An often overlooked aspect of technology development in the pipeline inspection world, though one that usually turns out to be the most critical to success, is the people involved.

Global energy demand continues to grow but that growth is slowing and mainly driven by emerging economies - led by China and India - according to the BP Energy Outlook 2035.

The United States has some of the largest and oldest industrial infrastructure in the world, including its natural gas, oil, electrical and communications pipelines and wires more than 85% of which is controlled by private industry.

Increasing oil and natural gas consumption in Asia-Pacific has made a significant contribution to the need for increased pipeline construction investment worldwide. The region is expected to surpass Europe to become a major growth gas market by 2015. Developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region, such as India and China, have been importing substantial quantities of crude oil and natural gas for domestic consumption and industrial use.

Keeping field equipment safe and reliable is vitally important to ensure ongoing operations at pipeline and gas installations. However, due to corrosion, devices for replacing and repairing equipment can rapidly become expensive, especially when the related system downtime is also considered. To address this problem, corrosion protection should be a prime focus in the field of electric actuation.

Integrity projects are complicated enough when they involve locating anomalies along a buried pipeline that will then need to be excavated, evaluated and repaired. That factor increases significantly when the pipeline involved is connected to a heavily traveled motor bridge over a busy commercial river, adjacent to an active railroad spur in a large metropolis like Chicago – in the dead of winter.

Surerus Pipeline Inc. is installing three 10-km pipelines at the Long Lake Kinosis project, just south of Fort McMurray, two of which use thermal traced technology.

On July 30, 2004, a natural gas pipeline operating at a pressure of 70 bar ruptured. The accident occurred at Ghislenghien industrial park, near Ath, Belgium about 30 miles southwest of Brussels, Belgium. Twenty-four people died as a result of the explosion and subsequent fire (mostly firefighters and the police), and 120-plus were hospitalized, most with severe burns.

The burden on labor capacity in oil and gas construction markets worldwide is becoming increasingly well-known. These strains affect projected project costs, and several large capital projects have already been delayed or canceled (see Shell’s Louisiana GTL plant as an example) as a result of rising costs and questionable long-term profitability projections.

Pipeline integrity managers routinely receive inline inspection (ILI) tool data, in some cases, for the second or third pig run on a particular segment of pipe. Integrity managers largely spend time on the first ILIs in classifying anomalies under Part 195 and Part 192 criteria, excavating these anomalies and repairing the pipeline as necessary, based on the findings.

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