Oil & Gas Pipeline Operators Tracking Pigs From A Central Location

Every day, oil and gas pipelines transport critical resources that help fuel the economy, vital industries, and our communities. Without pipelines, it would take thousands of tanker trucks to transport these resources, which is impractical from both a safety and cost standpoint. Although pipelines are an extremely efficient means of transport, they also carry significant risk for owners and the communities they operate in. To ensure safe operation, pipelines are one of the most regulated assets in the world. The most common form of pipeline integrity is the use of inline inspection (ILI) tools known as smart pigs.

Pipeline pigs are inserted into a pipeline and pushed along by the flow of the product. The tools have multiple functions, and can be used to clean and assess the condition of the pipeline, as well as to purge different products in a multiproduct pipeline. Historically, technicians needed to be physically present to track a pig throughout the run, moving from site to site to track multiple pigs. This method requires a lot of driving and manpower, which adds risk to the run and can result in cost escalations if there are unexpected delays. In recent years, there have been developments in pig tracking which allow pigs to be tracked remotely.

During multiple pig runs, remote tracking is the most efficient method of tracking. It eliminates the need for field technicians to commute from location to location, as pigs are tracked from a central location start to finish. It also reduces the risk associated with having trackers out in the field and the environmental footprint by reducing the number of trucks on the road.

How it works

Before a remote tracking run, technicians temporarily deploy Armadillo above ground markers (AGMs) and remote tracking units. The AGMs are only activated before the run and do not increase project costs on unplanned standby days, unlike field technicians.

Cartoon drawing of a boss sending work to an employee over a wireless network

Once a pig has passed a tracking location, their progress is updated into the LiveMap software, which provides a live view of the pig’s position, velocity and estimated time of arrival for inline inspection (ILI) vendors and pipeline owners.

In some situations, such as single-pig or short distance runs, it is more efficient to have trackers in the field, but using remote tracking during multi-pig runs can significantly reduce costs and increase tracking reliability.

Click here to get your price estimate on a remote tracking inspection run.

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