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CATHODIC PROTECTION MONITORING

AND THE CP SNAKE SYSTEM

CONTENTS
1

THE CP SNAKE SYSTEM

1.1 What it provides .....................................................................................................................1


1.2 What is measured ..................................................................................................................1
1.3 How monitoring should be performed ....................................................................................1
1.3 How monitoring should be performed (continued) .................................................................2
1.4 System Description ................................................................................................................2
1.5 Theory of Operation ...............................................................................................................4
1.6 Data Processing.....................................................................................................................4
2

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

2.1 Mounting the System .............................................................................................................5


2.2 Technical Specifications ........................................................................................................5
2.2 Technical Specifications (continued) .....................................................................................6
2.3 The Reference Electrodes .....................................................................................................6
2.4 Calibration..............................................................................................................................9
2.5 System Accuracy ...................................................................................................................9

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THE CP SNAKE SYSTEM

1.1

What it provides

The CP Snake is a subsea-deployed CP survey system designed for use on offshore


pipelines. It is a complementary system to ROV deployed survey methods and works
particularly well in shallow water, on buried pipelines, or in areas of high current
velocity. The CP Snake runs on the ocean-bed, and measurements of the cathodic
protection potential are made at discrete locations along the survey section. Results are
produced as the survey proceeds.
1.2

What is measured

The prime consideration of the CP Snake survey is the cathodic protection potential of
the pipe, measured with respect to a standard reference electrode at the pipe surface.
Standards have been created which specify the minimum acceptable potential for
cathodic protection to have been achieved on the pipeline.
The British Standards Institution Code of Practice for Cathodic Protection (BS 7361:
Part 1:1991) quotes potentials of -0.8V for aerobic conditions and -0.9V for anaerobic
environments, with respect to the silver/silver chloride reference electrode. NACE1
Standard RP 0675-88 Section 5 also quotes potentials of -0.8V for aerobic conditions,
and stresses that in abnormal conditions other protection criteria should be applied.
Where special steels, or other metals, are used the problem of hydrogen embrittlement by
over-protection should be considered.2
While the potential value is the main criterion, the CP Snake also measures depth, GPS
location, and 2 levels of lateral field gradients simultaneously.
1.3

How monitoring should be performed


Transverse Survey

Measurements of cathodic protection potentials should ideally be made at the pipe


surface. In practice this has to be as close to the pipe surface as possible. Measurements
at a distance from the pipe are not valid, and can be dangerously optimistic. For this
reason, we use the transverse survey (normally used to locate the position of a pipeline).
The multi-electrode system built into the CP Snake allows it to measure the cathodic
protection potential at each crossing with the pipeline. Data collected from other
instruments provide additional information on the location of the pipeline. A fix number
is recorded with each transverse survey along with navigation data, magnetic field and
depth.
The interval between survey passes is normally between 150 and 250 meters. This can be
expanded or contracted based on data quality and protection levels on the pipeline. If the

1 (American) National Association of Corrosion Engineers (Subspection is a sustaining member)


2 British Standard BE EN 12473:2000
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1.3

How monitoring should be performed (continued)

pipeline has been retrofitted with discreet anode sleds, it is only necessary to make survey
passes at sled locations and mid points to verify protection adequacy.
At least one contact measurement is required on the pipeline during the survey (more the
better) typically a calibration for every 15-16 Kms of pipe is required to ensure optimal
accuracy of the survey. Test points, risers or direct pipeline or pipeline appurtenance
contacts may be used as calibration points.
This data is used to produce a plot of potential variation versus distance.
The vast amount of data collected during a survey should, for convenience, be stored and
recorded using a computer. This allows easy access to the data, and presentation in
graphical or tabulated form, depending on the requirements of the pipeline operator.
Calibrations

The system is calibrated before the start of each transverse survey.


1.4

System Description

The CP Snake system contains the following equipment:

CP Snake containing reference electrodes, a depth transducer and a magnetic


gradiometer.

Remote Reference Electrode.

Data Receiver.

Computer and Data Storage System.

CP Snake
The CP Snake is constructed of rugged, flexible tubing, approximately 8m in length.
There are three systems operating on the CP Snake:

The depth transducer is located at the head of the CP Snake and is used to ensure that
the CP Snake is on bottom during transverse survey passes.

There are four electrodes fitted to the CP Snake. The first three cells are attached at
1m intervals along the body of the CP Snake. They provide accurate measurements
of the pipeline crossings points and remote variation readings at those crossings. A
fourth auxiliary cell is located adjacent to the front cell as a back-up.

The gradiometer is located at the rear of the CP Snake and provides additional
verification that the pipeline has been crossed.

Remote Reference Electrode


The remote electrode provides a 'remote earth' against which potential variations, local to
the pipe, are measured. It is usually deployed from a buoy which trails behind the survey
vessel.
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1.4

System Description (continued)

Data Receiver
The primary task of this unit is to provide the communication link between the subsea
systems in the CP Snake and the on-line computer.
Communication with a navigation computer is achieved through a serial interface on the
computer.
Computer and Data Storage System
The computer is the system organizer. Interactive software allows our engineers control
of the system operation, which ensures relevant cathodic protection data is recorded.
By interfacing directly with the navigation system, position data can be recorded
simultaneously with cathodic protection potential information. Data received from all
sources is encoded and recorded on hard disk then backed-up on removable storage
media. This allows for convenient access to recorded data, and for easy transfer of data
to our suite of processing programs.
The computer is able to produce plots of potential variation, coarse and fine field
CP magnetic
Snake field. In addition, the system will export potential variation,
measurements, and
depth, position data, and crossing number for each pipeline crossing.

Data Logging

Remote Cell
GPS on Vessel

CP Snake

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1.5

Theory of Operation

Remote Electrode
The remote electrode technique for non-contact pipeline surveys has been used for many
years.
The theory of operation is based on the fact that at a large distance from the pipeline, the
potential variation versus distance along the pipeline is very small. If the potential of an
electrode held close to the pipe at different locations is measured against the remote
electrode (ideally, 25 metres or more from the pipeline), a plot is obtained of the pipe
potential variation.
In order to find the true potential of the pipe, a local contact measurement is needed
(using a stabbing probe or a test post). This gives the offset potential of the remote
electrode, and so the true origin of the potential plot can be drawn.
The front electrode on the CP Snake is used in conjunction with the remote electrode to
measure potential variation.
1.6

Data Processing

Data collected from the CP Snake and the GPS is used to produce a potential profile.
Each time the CP Snake crosses the pipeline a remote maximum and remote minimum
value are recorded along with a latitude and longitude. Calibrations made before the start
of each crossing correct these remote values, which are then used to calculate a potential
variation value at the crossing points.
The GPS data recorded at the crossing points is converted from latitude and longitude to
an approximate Eastings and Northings. The distance between each crossing point is
calcuated and a KP database is created from this data.
Contact measurements made on the pipeline provide absolute pipeline potentials; these
potentials are plotted and the potential variation is 'overlayed' between these points.

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PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

2.1

Mounting the System

The CP Snake system can be deployed from most survey vessels. The most important
requirements being the ability to:

provide a stable platform to deploy the CP Snake

operate in shallow water.

The remote electrode is deployed so that it does not delay or hinder normal CP Snake
operation.
The data recording and monitoring system is usually located in a control room area,
where communications with the corrosion engineers are available.
A portable or permanent winch is required to deploy and recover the CP Snake the winch
must have the following specifications as a minimum.
Drum Diameter:
Performance:
2.2

36 inches
Bare drum rating of 6,000 Lbs. Line pull @ 0-200 FPM

System Components

CP Snake
For deployment from the survey vessel using a winch. Incorporates umbilical, depth
transducer, magnetic gradiometer, reference electrodes and subsea connectors.
Reference Electrodes

Head Buoyancy

Tow Umbilical

Body Hose

Head Unit:
Depth Transducer
Flexi-Ballast

Magnetometer

Signal Conditioner
Junction Box

Overview of CP Snake Mk. VI

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Signal Conditioner /
Junction Box
Depth Transducer

Umbilical Connector

Strain Cord

Strain Cord Anchor


Di-Pole Magnetometer

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2.2

System Components (continued)

Remote Electrode
For suspending over the side of the vessel, through moonpool or remote buoy.
Incorporates subsea connector.
Surface Receiver
Provides an interface between the computer and the sub-surface electrodes. Contains
decoding, error detection circuits and isolation.
Computers and Peripherals
PC with hard disk and removable media storage, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and RS 232
interfaces.
Software
Subspection has a suite of proprietary software designed and maintained specifically for
cathodic protection surveys.
The processing software also provides a choice of formats for the final results (for
plotting onto pipeline charts or incorporating into the client's database).

Typical real time plot from a transverse-crossing, shown on an interactive operator panel

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2.3

The Reference Electrodes

General Construction
The reference electrode assembly has been designed to promote the long term stability of
the silver/silver chloride reference electrode.
The silver/silver chloride reference cells used are both mechanically and electrically
robust. They present a large area of active silver/silver chloride to the electrolyte so that
potential accuracy from cell to cell may be tightly controlled.
In order to exclude the possibility of impurities and contaminants in the sea water (the
most usual measurement environment) causing electrode instability, the silver/silver
chloride reference cell is sealed within its own housing in extremely pure sodium
chloride solution. The solution concentration is chosen to match that of the surrounding
sea water to minimise liquid junction potential errors.
Connection of the silver/silver chloride reference cell to the measuring circuit is through
underwater plugs and sockets.
Electrical contact to the environment is through a porous disc, which provides a low
resistance path to the measuring environment. The porous disc is held in a rubber
pressure-compensating diaphragm. This allows the reference electrode assembly to be
used at any depth, without collapsing air bubbles allowing contaminated seawater into the
cell through the porous disc.
Accuracy
Manufactured cell to cell offset is better than 100 microvolts, and the long term accuracy
is better than 1 microvolt per 24 hours.

Ref. Capillary

Saturated PC
Ag/AgCl Reference
Strain Cord

Secondary Bridge
Flex Ballast Modules
Magnetometer Cable

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2.4

Calibration

We check all the equipment and its calibration against a known standard, (maintained by
Subspection Ltd.), before mobilization.
Independent calibrations of the silver/silver chloride reference electrodes against suitable
reference standards may be carried out, as specified by the client or specifying authority.
Because the CP Snake equipment is self-checking (there are three independently
mounted electrodes, which are continually compared one with another), the system
performance is automatically monitored, and a high level of confidence in the accuracy of
the results is assured.
System offsets are measured at the end of each pipe traverse and at other times as
convenient to the operator.
The consistency of the calibration procedure means that we can produce accurate
comparisons with previous data stored in our archives.
2.5

System Accuracy

The overall repeatability of the combination of electrodes and electronics is:


Absolute potential levels:

1 millivolt.

Remote electrode potential:

0.1 millivolt.

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