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Pipeline Pigging Technology

Pipeline Pigging Technology

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Published by: api-3869181 on Dec 01, 2009
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Based on successful decommissioning of other pipelines, and in order to
meet the tight schedule, it was decided that the decommissioning process
would be carried out by using nitrogen to displace the ethyiene at normal
operating conditions. The nitrogen/ethylene interface would travel at 1.1 m/s
(2.5mph) to maintain fully-turbulent ethyiene flow and to reduce the inter-


Pipeline Pigging Technology

Fig.l. Pipeline schematic with modifications.


Ethylene pipeline cleaning

interface length of contaminated ethylene. To expedite the process,
decommissioning was done in three stages with three nitrogen injection
points (see Fig.l). Nitrogen injection would begin at the south end of the
pipeline; as the interface passed the next injection site, the previous section
was shut in, depressured, and prepared for capital work. Due to the amount
of nitrogen involved in decommissioning, it was necessary to use three
nitrogen service companies, each with one injection point.

Capital works

In order to clean and inspect the entire 180-km line in a 28-day period, the
pipeline had to be separated into four sections. The section lengths were set
at 75km, 51km, 35km, and 19km, based primarily on the amount of polymer
expected in each section. The deposition problem was considered to be more
severe at the north end of the line, which is furthest from the plants, than at
the south end, so the section lengths decreased proportionally. Each section
had its own launch and receive traps, as well as facilities to separate the
polymer from the nitrogen. Four simultaneous pigging operations proceeded
on a 24-hour-a-day basis.
For capital works, Novacorp was retained to design, procure, fabricate and
install all additional pig trap sites complete with polymer-separation systems.
The receive sites had separation facilities to remove any debris from the
nitrogen stream as it was vented to the atmosphere. These consisted of a
separator/knock-out drum, pressure let-down valve and final filtration bags
(see Fig.2).

Cleaning and inspection

Cleaning commenced immediately upon completion of the capital works
for a section. All cleaning and inspection tools were propelled by nitrogen,
with their speed governed by a control valve at the receive sites. The
proposed schedule of cleaning and inspection runs is shown in Fig.3; this
selection of pigs was designed to progressively remove the polymer debris
from the pipe wall and successfully carry it out to the separator and filter bags.
The cleaning programme assumed the majority of polymer would be
removed during the 1400-kPa (200-psO runs when the separator was in
service. The separator would then be by-passed for all inspection runs,when
pressures were 3500kPa (500psf).
The four sections were totally independent for cleaning. Each had dedi-
cated resources with operations proceeding 24 hours a day.


Fig.2. Filter detail

Nitrogen for the four sections was supplied by three nitrogen service
companies trucking nitrogen from three nitrogen production facilities.


Once the pipeline was cleaned and inspected, it was recommissioned as
quickly as possible with minimal loss of ethylene product.
The final recommissioning procedure was as follows:

1. The pipeline pressure was increased to 300-350psi (2100-2500kPa)
by venting or injecting nitrogen (whichever was required) to pre-
vent subcooling (of piping and valves) and to decrease the potential
for ethylene decomposition.

2. Ethylene was introduced through a sacrificial by-pass valve while
maintaining 7500kPa supply pressure to the south end users.


Pipeline Ftyging Technology

Ethylene pipeline cleaning



Scout Pig (25% gauge plate)


Pressure bypass with flexy conical cups


Pressure bypass with standard conical cups and one disc


Pressure bypass with hard ^onical cups, two discs, magnets and brushes


British Gas brush tool at 200 psi


British Gas brush tool at 700 psi



Enduro Caliper / Bend Tool


Profile Tool


British Gas Corrosion Tool

Fig.3. Proposed selection of pigs.

3. Nitrogen was vented at BV10 (north end) to maintain pressure at 300-
350psi in the pipeline. Vent streams were analyzed continually for
ethylene with portable gas chromatographs.

4. Monitoring continued until product-quality ethylene was seen (less
than 300ppm N^. The flares were activated at 6% ethylene and
stopped when product ethylene was seen.

5. At this point, flaring was stopped to allow pipeline pressures to
increase to normal operating pressures.

6. When the differential pressure was less than 200kPa (30psi) the
isolation valves were opened and the pipeline put back into service.

Safety and public relations

All 300+ workers involved in the project completed a thorough project
safety indoctrination which detailed all the project safety rules and safety
guidelines. The project goal was to have no recordable injuries.
A paramedic crew was contracted to patrol the pipeline 24 hours a day in

case of injury.

All landowners along the pipeline were contacted by mail three months
prior to the project commencing, informing them of the project. Two weeks


Fig.4. Interface log.

prior, visits were made to the landowners within a one-mile radius of a work
site to highlight any work activities which affected the area, and to answer any
questions and concerns they had.

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