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World Pipelines: Laser Sharp Validation

World Pipelines CoverSince it was introduced in 2005, many pipeline operating companies have been struggling to come to terms with standards like API 1163. The standard calls for constant improvement in pigging results, using both current and historical data to validate tool results. Pigging companies and pipeline operators are finding it very difficult to confidently validate tool data using current methods of verification. This results in much larger margins of error for the ILI tools and ultimately requires more verification digs in order to confidently validate ILI tool results.

Challenges

One of the major challenges to accurate tool validation is that when the verification data disagrees with the ILI log data, pipeline operators cannot say for certain where the error resides. It may be that the technician located the wrong anomaly or included a large area of superficial corrosion that fell outside the tools detection threshold and were therefore not identified in the log. In reality, the only time that the ILI company and the pipeline operator are inclined to say with absolute certainty that the results have been accurately verified is when the ‘as found data’ agrees with the ILI log. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to make any valuable refinements that might improve accuracy of a tool.

Pigging companies initially validate their tools in a closed shop environment and establish a margin of error that is used for their reporting. In order to confirm that a tool is in fact operating within the  prescribed parameters, verification digs are conducted. ILI tools have improved a great deal over the last few years but there has not been much progress in operators’ ability to verify the results in the field until recently.

 

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