Maintenance and Inspections

Key Takeaways

  • Pipeline operators utilize the latest proven innovations and technology to inspect pipelines.
  • Operators routinely inspect their pipelines using in-line inspection tools, which scan the inside of a pipe’s walls.
  • Pipeline companies take proactive steps to identify potential repairs before they become an issue.

How Do Operators Keep Pipelines Safe?

Technology is a main driver of continuous pipeline safety improvement. Ongoing safety improvement efforts include using new technologies to evaluate pipelines and other parts of pipeline systems, analyzing data, and sharing best practices as the industry drives towards the goal of zero incidents.

As part of regular inspection, operators use high-tech tools that can detect ever-smaller issues in pipelines and allow operators to schedule preventative maintenance long before an issue becomes a problem.

Operators also keep historical data about each pipeline, including what kind of steel it was made out of, who manufactured it, what coatings have been used and what products have flowed through it – information that is used to manage and maintain a pipeline’s integrity.

In-line inspection tools, or smart pigs, scan pipe walls like an MRI.

Pipeline technicians work in the field in communities where pipeline operate, conducting inspections, maintenance and cathodic protection readings. These technicians also serve as a point of contact for information for the community.

What are smart pigs?

The primary inspection method for pipelines is in-line inspection using high-tech devices called “smart pigs.” Like an MRI at a doctor’s office, smart pigs can use magnetic resonance or ultrasonic waves to identify issues long before they become a problem. Learn more about how operators use smart pigs to conduct preventative maintenance.

Smart pigs are placed inside a pipeline and travel through it, scanning and measuring a pipe’s walls looking for signs of dents, corrosion or cracking. The resulting data is then analyzed to diagnose issues and schedule preventative maintenance or repairs.

Discover how industry employees regularly inspect pipelines using smart pigs.

How Do Operators Prevent Pipeline Corrosion?

When steel is exposed to oxygen or water, the exterior of the pipe can corrode. Pipeline operators use several techniques to protect steel pipe from both internal and external corrosion. Operators coat the exterior of the pipe to guard against corrosion and direct an advanced corrosion prevention systems on buried pipe in a process known as cathodic protection. Coating and cathodic protection help to safeguard the integrity of the pipeline.