The ROSEN Group has recently conducted a series of diagnostics and integrity assessments on a hot oil pipeline in Ecuador. In this specific case, the goal was to gain valuable information on the integrity status of 400 km of pipeline, across 34 segments, with varying diameters. This would mean a RoCorr MFL-A and RoGeo XT/MD service would be applied over a 3-year timeframe, and over 70 individual inspections would be required. This brief project overview explains some of the challenges and solutions provided.
Although initially this seems like a “regular” inspection job, this pipeline network presented a unique challenge: the medium itself. The product being transported was hot oil, which made the internal pipeline temperature higher than 85°C. This presented a challenge because the equipment and tools for these procedures are generally applied at much lower temperatures. With a primary objective of identifying metal loss, it was decided that the best technology would be axial magnetic flux leakage (MFL-A); in addition, a geometry inspection would be completed using an extended mechatronic caliper (XT) and mechanical caliper technology (MD).
Once all the information on the asset and operating conditions was apparent, a custom plan needed to be developed to best conduct the inspection. One possible option was to reconfigure the sensors to resist the higher heat; these were internally tested at the ROSEN Technology and Research Center in Lingen, Germany.
As a second solution to minimize risk and ensure success, the engineering team suggested the usage of cold water batches to keep the temperature around the tools under control. Sending batches of fresh water in front and behind the tool was the solution. Because the product being transported – crude oil emulsion (directly from the well) – consisted of 95% water and 5% oil, the water batches would not affect the product negatively. No sealing tools to separate the batch from the product were required. This process was also tested prior to the actual inspection.
It is often the case that multiple options are available for successfully completing an ILI inspection. The true value of experience and partnership becomes essential when it comes to finding the ideal method. In this particular scenario, the ROSEN Group, together with the operator, chose to apply both solutions. Since multiple inspections would be needed, a combination of the two approaches was determined to be the most beneficial choice.
In order to truly understand the current condition of any asset, simply collecting diagnostic data is not sufficient. Therefore, once the data had been successfully collected, the ROSEN integrity team went on to conduct various integrity assessments, including corrosion growth analyses and fitness for purpose assessments. This allowed the operator to understand not only the current condition of the assets but also their predicted future condition, allowing for more proactive and efficient decision-making.