North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

SEP 2018

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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30 North American Oil & Gas Pipelines | SEPTEMBER 2 018 napipelines.com the 3 million miles of U.S. gas transmission/distribu- tion lines were installed before 1970. 5 That leaves pipeline operators increasingly manag- ing a combination of new and legacy assets, both of which present unique integrity inspection demands. Older pipelines can have laminations through entire pipe joints. Modern manufacturing practices make those kinds of defects rare, but no buried pipeline can be made immune from every potential problem. Newer pipelines have mill test reports with certi- fied chemical and physical specifications. On older systems, carbon equivalency (CE) testing with opti- cal emission spectrometry is used to obtain a positive material identification. CE percentage determines a pipe's potential for cold cracking during welding, which is critical when repairing live loaded lines. Whether dealing with pipelines built five or 50 years ago, the NDT service provider must be method- ical in searching for "symptoms" that could signify larger problems and identifying root causes. Smart pigs provide a good indication of what to anticipate, but NDT technicians should expect the unexpected and gather as much information as possible to give engineers actionable information for operational decision-making. New tools are being introduced every day to help NDT technicians accomplish that task faster to mini- mize pipeline downtime, with better end results. A case in point is 3-D laser mapping with dynamic referencing technology that generates exact digital replicas of the pipe and any material defects. While these kinds of technologies are enabling exciting new capabilities and efficiencies, they also challenge the NDT services provider to continually update inspection procedures and training programs to keep up with new developments and adapt to pipeline companies' evolving inspection standards and ever-changing regulations. Pipelines can be dangerous assets. Periodically tak- ing measure of their structural integrity is critical to safe operations. Cole Morehead is owner and president, and Eric Germann is pipeline integrity manager for Clifton, Kansas-based XCEL NDT LLC. New tools are being introduced every day to help NDT technicians accomplish that task faster to minimize pipeline downtime, with better end results. A case in point is 3-D laser mapping with dynamic referencing technology that generates exact digital replicas of the pipe and any material defects.

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