For our industries, last year’s global pandemic came with many challenges, such as travel restrictions, quarantine, social distancing and more – all of which has resulted in delays and disruptions when it comes to the maintenance, inspection, repair and replacement of assets.
Despite all that, ROSEN experts in our South America region have successfully conducted a series of diagnostic and integrity assessments of two gas pipelines for our customer Compañia Mega in Argentina.
The project was completed on time, and our team was able to overcome many challenges that came up due to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions. Additionally, we were able to help the customer achieve a milestone: during the inspection, our experts ran several smart tools with different technologies, such as axial and circumferential Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL-A and MFL-C), and an Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) tool, which was unprecedented in the history of the Compañia Mega pipeline.
While the world is trying to adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19, our industries are working to develop procedures and practices that guarantee safe and reliable operation and reduce the risk of spreading the virus while still meeting client demands.
WORKING HAND IN HAND
Operating during pandemic times has become a great challenge for all industries, and the oil and gas industry is no exception. Nevertheless, working hand in hand on this specific case for our customer in Argentina, we were able to overcome those difficulties with great professionalism while continuously following the protocols and security regulations in place to execute challenging projects.
Compañia Mega was looking to inspect two gas pipelines in order to gain valuable information on the integrity status of their assets. The company had planned the inspection of the two 12-inch pipelines with a respective length of 273 and 327 kilometers. The project was scheduled to be carried out last year. Despite the pandemic, the execution did take place as expected.
Figure 1 – Field crew working on-site, following all the safety measures
Based in Buenos Aires, Compañia Mega is an Argentinian company dedicated to the separation and fractioning of natural gas and its components. In two facilities, the Neuquén separation plant and the Bahía Blanca fractioning plant, the company mainly deals with the products ethane, propane, butane and natural gas.
OPERATING UNDER STRICT SECURITY PROTOCOLS
During the execution of the project, our team faced several difficulties, including the global context of COVID-19, which coincided with the start of field activities. Therefore, additional tasks and protocols had to be considered, such as a mandatory quarantine in each province where activities were carried out (three in total, 14 days each: Río Negro, Neuquén and Buenos Aires).
ROSEN’s major concern is the safety, health and well-being of its employees and clients. Therefore, a special protocol was created to ensure that all employees would remain safe and healthy while working during the actual health crisis.
Figure 2 – Because of local restrictions, we implemented different protocols and established two separate work teams
Two Work Teams
As the Compañia Mega plants where the inspections were carried out are located in different provinces, our regional team had to deal with individual regulations. Traffic between the two provinces was restricted, and a mandatory quarantine was required after entering each province, so we implemented different protocols and established two separate work teams.
Field employees working in the respective facilities had to comply with both the client’s and ROSEN’s safety protocols during the inspection period. In this specific case, Compañia Mega’s rules for working on the premises were in line with the individual restrictions of the province. That meant, for instance, testing negative for COVID-19 prior to admission to the facility, informing authorities via email before entering the province, and for everyone to have their temperature taken, wear protective masks, regularly wash hands and use disinfectant hand sanitizer.
Finishing this project was considered a milestone for the customer, since all the cleaning and smart tool runs were carried out successfully – a goal the client had set for this year.
The services provided to Compañia Mega included project engineering (fitness-for-purpose and corrosion growth assessments), cleaning and calibration of the lines, high-resolution axial MFL inspection, high-resolution XYZ mapping, high-resolution circumferential MFL inspection, and an Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) crack detection inspection.
The information provided by ROSEN during a total of 13 runs in the Belisle/Bahía Blanca and many others in the initial Loma/Belisle section is vital for Compañia Mega to manage the integrity of its pipelines, conduct the corresponding maintenance and make the most efficient use of its assets.
TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PROJECT
- Since the client was not able to modify the dimensions of the launcher and receiver traps, the EMAT inspection was done according to the distance allowed by battery autonomy (100 kilometers for each pipeline).
- The reconditioning of the EMAT tool was carried out in Buenos Aires by ROSEN’S South American technicians with the assistance of our worldwide specialists.
- The reconditioning and second preparation of the cleaning and MFL tools were conducted on-site.
- Due to the presence of pyrophoric dust in the line, a fire truck was made available during the receiving activities, which would flood the barrel and prevent the development of a fire.
- Bulldozer and heavy-duty cleaning.
- Extended cleaning campaign, alternating the use of CLP (specialized pipeline cleaning tools) and heavy-duty cleaning.
- Duration of three to four days for each tool run per section.
- The speed variation prevented tools from exceeding 2 m/s².
As the pandemic continues, asset care should adapt to the challenges presented by elevating health and safety conditions, anticipating risks, and innovating with the needs of the market in mind. It should not, however, stop us from keeping pipelines running safely and reliably.