In a Nutshell:

Pipeline cracks require a rigorous and structured approach in which decisions are transparent and can be justified with evidence to manage the uncertainties. This article explains how experts from ROSEN South America are successfully leading and conducting several crack-detection services by using the latest inspection technologies, including EMAT and UTCD.

As pipelines age, cracks become a threat of increasing significance. Cracks manifest in a variety of locations and formations. Therefore, effective pipeline integrity for cracking requires structured decision-making that depends on accurate in-line inspection (ILI) results and other related services. In order to support operators in South America with solutions that answer to their individual requirements, the ROSEN Group has adapted a flexible and comprehensive approach: the Pipeline Integrity Framework for Cracking.

Figure 1 – ROSEN’s Pipeline Integrity Framework for Cracking offers a holistic and comprehensive approach to address the threat

Figure 1 – ROSEN’s Pipeline Integrity Framework for Cracking offers a holistic and comprehensive approach to address the threat

Cracks threaten pipeline integrity, and pipeline cracks are not all the same. RoCD (ROSEN Crack Detection) identifies a variety of crack formations, including cracks in the pipe body and cracks located in the complex geometry of girth welds and seam welds. Our technologies detect cracks with a very small physical footprint. It also addresses manufacturing defects and cracks caused by environmental factors.

ONGOING CRACK PROJECTS IN SOUTH AMERICA

Nowadays, this type of inspection is being implemented in South America with a significant local human component developed by experts from the region based on the individual needs of the customer. Here is an overview of some ongoing projects to demonstrate the capabilities of our local expert teams, as we are close to our customers with our locations in South America.

COLOMBIA

Project 1: In case of their assets transporting diesel, jet fuel and gasoline for cars with a length between 40 km and 42 km, a Colombian client identified geohazard flaws, i.e. movement of the pipeline due to unstable terrain, in some of their assets. After carrying out comprehensive field verifications, the data showed the presence of cracks.

  • Our solution: RoCD UT-C inspections
  • Customer benefit: Additional offline processing options are possible as no data is “thresholded” out and additional contextual information about the surrounding pipe joint is available to the analyst. Higher-resolution crack-profile data and increased detection capability for intermittent cracks; significant advantage for run comparison in the future, as it allows the analyst to compare anomalies in the new data set with the same anomalies (vs. not having the data) in the old data set.

Project 2: For this project, the length of the five crude oil pipelines to be inspected ranges from 33 km to 188 km. The complete system has been in operation for more than 20 years. Although the client has managed to closely monitor possible geohazards, they did find some small cracks in certain areas, including dents. As a consequence, the customer raised the need to confirm the integrity of the pipeline due to cracks.

  • Our solution: To tackle this case of corrosion, our experts will carry out RoCD UT-C inspections, fitness-for-purpose (FFP) assessments and a crack-growth analysis.
  • Customer benefit: We suggested this solution for the customer to obtain a comprehensive integrity management plan supporting the immediate and future integrity of the pipe. Because of our extensive knowledge of all Colombian hydrocarbon transportation systems, thanks to years of collecting experience and information, we can perform high-quality diagnoses.

BRAZIL

Project 1: A client indicated that their main pipeline threats are related to cracks, as the lines had a high level of erosion. To tackle pipeline cracking, our ROSEN experts in Brazil inspected the customer’s iron ore assets of 108 km, 175 km and 242 km in length.

  • Our solution: UT-C and integrity assessments.
  • Customer benefit: This solution provides the operators with the diagnostics of their assets, enabling them to extend the operational life and plan a proper maintenance program. In this case, each day their pipelines are not in operation represents a day without revenue generation.

Project 2: A client detected the presence of cracks in their gas pipelines. In order to ensure the safe operation of their assets, they reached out to ROSEN for consultation, assessment and recommendation. The six inspected pipelines varied in length, ranging from 9.5 km to 132 km.

  • Our solution: Our local experts recommended electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT) and integrity assessments (FFP corrosion, FFP crack-growth assessment and pipeline movement).
  • Customer benefit: EMAT ILI technology has matured and is now a reliable pipeline inspection solution. Our Pipeline Integrity Framework for Cracking brings together the right expertise, processes and technologies for continuous learning, reduced uncertainty and improved decisions.

ARGENTINA

Our client, the biggest company dedicated to the transport of natural gas in South America, pointed out that one of the key areas for handling the integrity of their pipelines is taking care of cracks. Therefore, they contracted our local experts to inspect more than 5,000 km of their natural gas pipeline network.

  • Our solution: EMAT-C, RoCD UT-C, crack detection services and a variety of integrity assessments (including bend strain, dent stress and fatigue).
  • Customer benefit: Nearly ten years of experience working together with this particular client, a long track record of inspection results, a collaborative environment and continuously implemented improvements have yielded comprehensive knowledge about the transportation system and resulted in safer pipelines overall.

WHY RoCD?

Our RoCD services help pipeline operators to identify cracks at a very early stage; hence, data is critical. RoCD also puts cracks and other pipeline anomalies into context. This allows a high level of confidence when estimating the remaining life of the asset.

Offering the RoCD EMAT crack-detection service, the RoCD EMAT coating evaluation service and the option to combine them with other ROSEN services, ROSEN is considered a strategic solution provider in the crack-detection field.

Carrying out an RoCD inspection can improve overall performance in terms of identifying critical features, minimizing unnecessary excavations and understanding the extent of a cracking problem.

HOW DO WE DO IT?

ROSEN uses the latest generation of crack-detection tools to find axial and circumferential cracking in pipelines. Using liquid-coupled ultrasonic crack detection – UTCD – or dry-coupled electromagnetic acoustic technologies – EMAT – our RoCD Service provides reliable crack detection and accurate crack sizing.

The technology also establishes appropriate baseline standards for the successful and effective management of pipeline integrity. Our proven tool configurations maintain data quality while supporting individual operational pipeline requirements.

TECHNOLOGY HIGHLIGHT

Here is an overview of the technologies we use for crack detection:

EMAT-C Technology

  • Patented measurement principle for high-resolution electromagnetically generated ultrasound
  • Highly dependable detection and accurate continuous sizing of crack anomalies
  • Reliable detection of coating disbondment, a precursor of cracking
  • Application across all pipeline products, e.g. natural gas, LNG, crude oil and gasoline

UT-C Technology

  • Advanced axial and circumferential UT technology based on ultrasonic shear wave generation
  • Increased sensitivity for crack detection by special probe design and high resolution
  • A-scan, B-scan and C-scan

MFL-C Technology

  • Circumferential magnetic flux leakage (MFL-C) technology
  • Precise long-seam categorization and assessment using magnetic saturation
  • Extra-high sensor density and high sampling rate support crack identification and exact location

Learn more about pipeline cracks.