What’s out there? Variety, disparity and unknown quantities, that’s what. Pipelines come in many forms: multi-diameter, made from different materials, running multiphase contents across kilometers, underwater, underground, over landscapes hot and cold. They may have facilities for pig launching and recovery. Or they may not. They may be lined with different materials. They may operate at low pressures or at very high temperatures. And yet a common denominator is pigging – and pigging is central to most pipeline integrity management systems (PIMS) throughout the lifecycle of a pipeline. The key drivers for pipeline pigging typically range from operational pigging for liquids or wax management to planned in-line inspection (ILI) – and are an integral part of an overall integrity assurance program.
But for a lot of operators, pigging is very often a non-routine or infrequent operation, making it an unfamiliar task to them. And where pigging requirements are deemed non-standard or more complex, there can often be disagreement on the best way to proceed. Launching and recovering the pigs is not always straightforward, either.
It is therefore often necessary – before commissioning a pigging operation – to consider the range of options available. This is in order to develop an effective project execution plan and to demonstrate and predict the viability and cost of a chosen option. In addition to the obvious risks and immediate practical challenges, it is often also necessary to address some significant external factors as contributors to the full lifecycle costs of a pipeline.
Thus, the many aspects that need to be considered when preparing and executing complex pigging operations at times present major technical or operational challenges to operators, accompanied by real (or sometimes perceived) risks and significant economic barriers. The challenge is to analyze all factors in an objective and experienced way, to make an informed decision – and to act on it.
ROSEN’s in-house expertise is centered on a dedicated team of specialists focused on supporting operators in preparing and managing complex pigging operations. Our pigging consultancy team provides operators with a one-stop shop, bringing together everything needed to complete a successful inspection project. From initial analysis to reviewing all options to delivering the inspection itself, we have it all covered.
The pigging consultancy team encompasses:
- Operational pigging experience and know-how
- Pipeline integrity expertise
- In-house flow assurance consultancy
- Risk and safety management professionals
This team is further enhanced by being embedded in the wider ROSEN group, with direct access to ROSEN’s unrivalled pig design, analysis, manufacturing and testing capabilities. Plus, operational colleagues inside ROSEN routinely manage complex pigging operations around the globe.
By adopting a system-level approach, ROSEN’s pigging consultancy is able to propose practical “turn-key” pigging strategies, supporting each phase of a pipeline’s lifecycle to ensure maximum value from each pigging operation while minimizing operational risks.
We work closely with operators to define the key integrity drivers for a pigging program, identifying compatible technology or infrastructure solutions in order to deliver a practical and cost-effective campaign.
The ultimate aim is to ensure that:
- Selected technologies are suitable for the challenge
- All options have been reviewed
- The best options have been put forward
- Risks to campaign execution are identified
- Contingency strategies are also identified
- Campaigns are within the capability of the operator
Discuss and assess the operator’s requirements. This must cover the entire issue but can include launch and recovery options, the prior pigging history and the pipeline’s physical disposition, deficiencies and geometry. Several other factors may be significant, including limitations in the pipe’s design and construction (variable bore, minimum bend radius and other in-line fittings), operating conditions (pressure, temperature and flow) and the presence – or likelihood of – deposits such as wax and liquids.
Depending on the review, a standard inspection tool may be available, but it is often necessary to implement a strategy – and custom-build a tool – that addresses any and all complexities of the pipeline system. Based on an assessment of perceived integrity threats, a range of inspection technologies can be considered to detect and size all significant anomalies. A bespoke tool can include technologies for crack detection, loss of wall thickness and geometrical irregularities.
Accurately costing a campaign is critical to choosing between options. A robust cost model should account for the global impact of a campaign over the full project life-cycle. Some costs are not immediately obvious. Although there is a propensity to minimize the campaign duration, many installations have personnel restrictions that may restrict parallel working.
Some campaigns can be very difficult to cost at the feasibility stage and should therefore contain appropriate contingencies or be based on analogous jobs done at other times. Contemplation of ancillary support services, possible chemical injection and sub-sea intervention costs are all advised, and a scoring system deploying traditional risk assessment techniques can help identify the appropriate pigging solution for a particular job.
The ROSEN approach to pigging feasibility and optimization enables engineered solutions to be proposed with confidence, removing uncertainty and consequently reducing risk. In a high-value industry, effective cost and risk control still plays a vital role. Our consultancy’s aim is to assess those costs and risks and to make our contribution to the profitable, safe and efficient running of a pipeline asset.
Clear and significant benefits to the operator are offered through ensuring:
- Reliable and cost-effective confirmation of piggability
- Confidence that an engineered solution is available
- Cost savings are realized during all lifecycle phases
- Risk reduction during pigging project execution
- Assurance of pigging and operational readiness