How Do Pipeline Cleaning Services Work? – NiGen Pipeline Cleaning
Over time, the integrity of pipelines that transport oil and natural gas might be compromised. There are a lot of causal factors that negatively affect the integrity of gas pipelines throughout their useful lives including water vapor (which leads to corrosion and internal cracks), scaling, and deposits (which can restrict the flow of products through the lines).
Pipeline cleaning services refer to the periodic maintenance efforts aimed at keeping gas pipelines clean, dry, and free of obstructions.
Pipe cleaning companies such as NiGen offer maintenance services to downstream oil and gas operators.
Different Types of Pipeline Cleaning Services
Oil and gas operators employ several techniques to maintain their pipeline networks. Common pipeline maintenance tools include pipeline pigging systems, scrapers, and hydro jets.
Pipeline jetting uses hydro jetting systems (high-pressure fluid blasts at pressures of several thousand PSI) to scour the insides of gas pipelines for buildup such as sludge, scale, rust, grease, and many other types of debris. The hydro jets contain a range of nozzles suited to particular operations and can maintain small and large pipelines (2″ – 50″ in diameter).
Hydro jetting is a safe and environmentally-friendly technique able to dislodge the toughest buildups and restore optimum flow integrity with minimal downtimes. Some advantages of pipeline jetting are water savings, easier access planning, and position tracking.
Pipeline scraping involves running a pig scraper tool through a pipeline. Pipeline scraper tools are mechanical devices which can be pulled through the pipeline to dislodge stubborn buildup along the sides of the walls. A key benefit is that they do not require water pressure or fluid flow for their operation.
One of the most well-known tools for carrying out gas pipeline cleaning services and for flow assurance is the pipeline pig. The device was so named for the squealing sound it made while traveling through a pipeline and is also a backronym for ‘Pipeline Inspection Gauge.’ A typical pipeline pigging system consists of the pig, a launcher, and a receiver.
The pig itself is a hollow, cylindrical device that fits tightly into the launcher and is retrieved by the receiver. A pressure differential across the pig drives it through the pipeline. A key benefit of pipeline pigging is that it can be carried out without interrupting the flow of product through the pipeline. They are also a cost-effective option compared to other types of maintenance services and can clean extensive lengths of pipelines.
The pigging engineer is responsible for carrying out a pigging operation. He/she must consider a number of factors before selecting a pig for a particular operation. This includes pipeline diameter, flow conditions, the task the pig will perform, and the layout of the pipeline network.
Some common types of pipeline pigs are utility pigs, inspection pigs, and specialty pigs.
Utility pigs are used to remove dirt, debris, and other buildups from the insides of pipelines as well as manage water accumulation due to condensation. The pigs travel the length of the pipe using the force of the pipeline fluid or electrical power. Common types are mandrel pigs, solid cast pigs, foam pigs, and spherical pigs.
Inspection pigs or ‘smart pigs’ are pipeline cleaning tools also used for pipeline integrity inspection. Smart pigs are embedded with electronics and utilize ultrasonic or magnetic resonance imaging to monitor internal pipeline conditions like thickness, temperature, and diameter.
Specialty pigs (also known as plugs) help to isolate pipeline sections for maintenance. The plug keeps the pressure on either side of the pipeline constant while it is being worked on. Specialty pigs come in a range of sizes with varying materials of construction.
Hard-to-pig or ‘unpiggable’ pipelines cannot be maintained or inspected using conventional pigging techniques as they contain obstructions such as sharp bends, varying diameters, and special valves which cause restricted access that could lead to a stuck pig. These types of pipelines can only be maintained using special pigs known as gel pigs.
Gel pigs are special pig types used to maintain hard-to-pig pipelines. They are made of rigid/semi-rigid structures and do not require a launcher and receiver system for operation. Gel pigs are suitable for pigging pipelines with sharp bends, varying diameters, and can also dislodge other pig types stuck in pipelines.
Trust NiGen for All Your Pipeline Management Needs!
Due to the high-pressure conditions present in gas pipelines, pigging operations must be carried out by only competent and experienced professionals.
NiGen offers pipeline maintenance services based on over two decades of expertise in the pipeline maintenance industry. Equipment available for rent or purchase includes container nitrogen generators, high-pressure booster, rotary screen air compressors, desiccant air dryers, and more.