It pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Each year, leaks cost the oil and gas industry millions of dollars due to fines, damages, lost product, and pipeline repairs. Despite increasing preventative efforts, pipeline leaks still happen.
As discussed in our last blog, pinhole leaks can go undetected by conventional leak detection systems (LDS). These small leaks can compromise the pipeline and release a significant volume of product over time.
PureHM’s SmartBall platform can ensure product containment beyond the detection limit of any other LDS. In this blog, we’ll explore five ways this tool benefits an integrity management program by providing complete confirmation of containment.
Proactive Confirmation of Containment
Get ahead of pipeline threats and build trust with stakeholders with proactive SmartBall inspections.
1. Interval inspections
High-profile pipeline failures have highlighted the severe consequences of a rupture or leak, and government and public scrutiny of energy pipelines continues to grow. Pipeline operators may choose to conduct regular SmartBall surveys to ensure their pipeline is contained and create a record of defensible containment data.
SmartBall is typically orders of magnitude more sensitive than conventional systems – detecting leaks at an industry-leading lower leak threshold of 0.03 gallons per minute (115 mL/min). This is possible due to the tool’s highly sensitive acoustic sensor and the fact that the inline tool is never farther than one pipe diameter from the leak when it passes.
Proactive interval inspections build goodwill with stakeholders, put you in good standing with regulators, and build your reputation as a pipeline integrity leader.
Interval inspections can be especially beneficial in high consequence areas, where a leak or failure could have detrimental effects on people and the environment. Operators may also consider regular inspections on higher-risk pipelines, such as those with a history of leaks or aging assets built with outdated construction methods or materials.
Visualization of an undetected defect that progressed into a leak
2. Threat monitoring
Pipeline repairs are costly. It can pay to check and monitor known threats for leakage. Stay tuned for the next blog in our series, which will cover threat monitoring in detail.
3. Gathering systems
In general, there is a lack of condition data on gathering pipelines because they are largely unregulated, and most of the time, they are unpiggable. SmartBall can assess unpiggable or difficult-to-pig pipelines. Close to 70 percent of pipelines in North America fall into this category due to challenges like tight bends, small diameters, and undersized valves. Using SmartBall, operators can gather critical pipeline condition data that would otherwise be unavailable.
Reactive Confirmation of Containment
Quickly react to potential changes in pipeline integrity with the lightweight SmartBall platform.
4. Following pipe repairs
Once a leak is identified, operators must take prompt action to repair the pipeline. There are a variety of repair options available from pressure containing sleeves to repair clamps. Despite the method selected, inspecting the line afterward reduces the risk of a faulty or ineffective repair.
Using SmartBall to confirm containment after a release is an excellent way to ensure the integrity of repairs and show stakeholders and regulators that current issues have been addressed.
PureHM recently partnered with a pipeline operator to inspect a line as part of their restart plan following a leak repair. SmartBall was used to prove containment at the repair location and demonstrated that the line had no other leaks.
5. After natural disasters
Extreme weather events pose a serious threat to the world’s infrastructure, and pipeline assets are no different. Hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes — these and other events can lead to river scour, soil subsidence, or ground movement that can cause a pipeline to leak or fail. To address these dangers, regulations are increasingly requiring inspections on pipelines affected by natural disasters.
SmartBall can quickly and efficiently survey a pipeline after an extreme weather event. The SmartBall platform is lightweight and can be delivered to site within days of a request. In fact, only one technician is required to complete an inspection, and the tool can be tracked remotely.
PureHM’s offices are strategically located across North America, so we can mobilize quickly in emergency situations. We also offer a range of SmartBall service models. These include single or recurring full-service inspections as well as a technology license that enables you to deploy the tool as needed, on your schedule.
Have questions about how SmartBall could help you? Let’s talk about your unique pipeline integrity challenges and find the most effective option for your pipeline network. Learn more and reach out to our expert advisors today.