Oil & Gas Pipeline Legacy Tracking Methods Incur False Positives

Over the past decade, the world has been gripped by many stories of pipeline failures, especially those with severe consequences to the environment and human life. These failures have resulted in billions of dollars in remediation costs, and understandably, this makes pipelines some of the most regulated assets in the world. The use of inline inspection (ILI) tools, such as pigs, is the most common form of pipeline integrity. Pipeline pigs are tools inserted into a pipeline and pushed along by the flow of product through the pipeline. The tool has multiple functions, and can be used to clean and inspect the pipeline, as well as to purge different products in a multiproduct pipeline. When these tools are operating in a live pipeline, it is important to know their precise location and speed, as they are very expensive to replace. A lost or stuck pig can obstruct product flow, causing unwanted service disruptions, or at worst, pipeline ruptures.

When tracking a pig through an oil or gas pipeline, it is often difficult to know if it has passed a tracking location, especially for inexperienced pig trackers. The majority of legacy tracking is done only with a standard geophone, a device which converts ground movement into voltage, and relies solely on the word of the technician tracking the pig. By using only a standard geophone, a technician cannot reassure an ILI vendor when the pig has passed a location. The geophone can give a technician many false positives; therefore, the technician’s word will not inspire much confidence in an ILI vendor.

Lack of experience can lead to tracking challenges

To be able to identify a pig passage with only the use of a standard geophone, an experienced tracker needs to reduce the likelihood of error. Many of the trackers who are sent out in the field are inexperienced and are unable to provide this. By solely relying on a standard geophone, field technicians can easily miss a pig passing through a station, and can lead to problems later in the run. Accurate pig tracking requires the right tools and defensible data. Remote tracking can be a more efficient system and provides more concrete data than legacy tracking systems.

Reliable tools and data

The Armadillo Tracks system uses multiple sensors to track every pig deployed into a pipeline. The sensors work simultaneously and record a snapshot of each pig passage. These snapshots prove when a pig has passed a tracking location and helps ILI vendors with benchmarking and reporting. With more reliable tools and data, vendors can have peace of mind knowing problems during a pig run will be minimized.

Technical map generated by Pure & Armadillo Tracks

To learn more about how remote tracking systems benefit ILI vendors and the other myths of pig tracking, download the White Paper here.

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