In the classic film Back to the Future, Marty McFly accidentally goes back in time, returning to 1955 when his parents were teenagers. To get “back to the future”, his future, he must make sure that his parents meet and fall in love. Of course, there are hijinks along the way that threaten his very existence. With each misstep, he notices his siblings start to disappear from the family photograph he carries in his pocket, as he changes the course of history.
Why do we have pressure calculations and how do they relate to In-Line Inspections (ILI)? Let’s start with why. This comes down to three main reasons: PHMSA requirements, sorting through ILI report “noise”, and to estimate response time.
An In-Line Inspection (ILI) is really just a snapshot of the current condition of your pipeline on a specific date. Depending on the technology used and when the pipeline is inspected, different “views” of the pipe’s condition are created. Which means no single ILI will give you the true condition of your pipeline.
This is where run comparisons come into play. Run comparisons help QC new data building confidence in the results, increases the value of each run, and provides data for deeper and more accurate analytics using the comparison results.
There are a handful of options when it comes to doing an ILI run comparison; completing it in-house, outsourcing to an ILI vendor, outsourcing to a service provider, or maybe your organization just doesn’t do it. Trying to decide what is best for your organization? We’ve got your benefits and drawbacks of each.
Always expanding to meet pipeline operator and industry needs, we’re delighted to announce the formation of an In-Line Inspection (ILI) services team! We’ve always dabbled in select ILI services, and now it’s time to utilize the full potential of our knowledgeable staff. The team is dedicated to supporting operators with all things ILI-related including general ILI support, interpretation of results, tool validation, raw data review, data alignment, run comparison, corrosion growth, and data management and integration. Lead by team manager, Phil Tisovec, the team possesses diverse ILI, GIS and data management experience; see what each member brings to the table!
I was speaking with a pipeline operator a while back who had just completed an anomaly dig that cost upwards of 1 million dollars. The reason for the dig was to investigate a metal loss anomaly reported by a recent In-Line Inspection (ILI). The pipeline company’s business rules, in the form of their Integrity Management Program (IMP), dictate that metal loss anomalies meeting certain depth or safe pressure calculations must be dug up and repaired. With that kind of money at stake for a dig, or any dig for that matter, the focus quickly turns to how accurate the ILI vendor made the call. Here we’ll look a little more under the hood to understand the genesis and inherent variability of ILI reported features.
In my previous blog Boxes: The Origin of Your Pipe Listing, I covered some of the basics of where features reported by ILI come from. To recap, the ILI tool does not detect anomalies. It records data which is processed and interpreted by software and human beings. Pipeline features and anomalies are then annotated with boxes which contain attributes describing the feature. Each box becomes a reported item in the resultant pipe tally or report.
In a perfect world, these ILI-generated features will match exactly the features expected on the pipe. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and real money is at stake adding to the pressure on ILI vendors and operators to get it right.
If you’ve ever performed an Inline Inspection (ILI) for a pipeline, you are likely familiar with the typical product of the survey which takes the form of a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is usually referred to as a pipeline listing, master list, pipe tally, or similar and is a tabular dataset where each row is a feature reported by the ILI vendor. As seen in the example below, numerous columns are populated with data describing each feature such as: distance from launch, feature description, dimensions, and much more depending on the operator’s reporting specifications.
There is quite a lot of work that leads up to the generation of the listing including prepping the line, running the ILI tool, processing the data, analyzing the data, and generating the report. Inline inspections can cost anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more!), the results of which ultimately culminate into one final deliverable: the pipe listing. I sometimes joke that an operator can say “I spent tons of money on an ILI run and all I got was this spreadsheet.” Rather than review the entire process, for now I want to focus just on that (expensive) pipe listing.
Each row of a pipe listing contains a reported feature or anomaly, but where does that information come from? Is it accurate? Can I trust it? So many decisions are made based on the information reported in the pipe listing so I think it warrants a closer look at its building blocks.
In today's pipeline industry, resources are scarce but the work to be completed is overwhelming. With ongoing surveys, new construction, acquisitions, and inspections, pipeline operators are producing more data than ever but have fewer resources than ever to manage it.
That's where we come in. Integrity Plus offers onsite and temporary staffing services to help with ILI alignments, data capture, centerline corrections, job books, and many other GIS data management services. Our team is trained on the latest applications, local, and available to operators who need supplemental staff immediately.
The oil and gas industry this year has certainly had its ups and downs with people and companies moving, combining, coming and going. Every year brings a new set of challenges, and our goal this year is to meet them head-on to help lighten the burden on our customers. We plan to do this through re-imaging how to manage ILI data, building support for spatial data models, and integrating with ESRI ArcGIS Online.
Corrosion, erosion and other forms of material degradation can cause critical damage to pipelines, potentially resulting in safety hazards and costly repairs. Having up-to-date and accurate pipeline inspection data, such as in-line inspections (ILI), is important to maintain the integrity of a pipeline.