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The name pig was originally applied to Go-Devil scrapers which were

devices driven through the pipeline by the flowing fluid trailing springloaded
rakes to scrape wax off the internal walls. The rakes made a
characteristic loud
squealing noise, hence the name "pig" which is now used to describe any
device made to pass through a pipeline driven by the pipeline fluid.
A large variety of pigs has now evolved, some of which are illustrated in
Fig.l. They typically perform the following functions:separation of
cleaning out deposits and debris
gauging the internal bore
location of obstructions
meter loop calibration
liquids' removal
gas removal
pipe geometry measurements
internal inspection
coating of internal bore
corrosion inhibition
improving flow efficiency


If pigging is required during operation, then the pipeline must be designed
with permanent pig traps, especially when the product is hazardous. As was
mentioned above, it is far better to avoid pigging if possible, but for some
operations it is the safest and most economical solution. Typical applications
for pigging in operational lines are illustrated in Fig.3, and include separation
of products, flow improvement, corrosion inhibition, meter proving and

Separation of products
Some applications demand that a pipeline carries a number of different
products at various times. It is basically a matter of economics and operational
flexibility as to whether a single line with batches of products in series is to
be preferred to numerous exclusive lines where the products can flow in
As with flooding and dewatering, a batching pig provides an efficient

interface between products, minimizing cross contamination. To ensure that

Pipeline Pigging Technology

Multiproduct lines
Removal of sand and Batching with
wax from oil lines inhibitor
Clearance of dirt and Water drop-out
condensate from gas removal

Fig.3. Pigging during operation.

Calibration of
flow meters

no mixing takes place, a train of two or three batching pigs could be launched
with the new product in between.

Wax removal
Some crude oils have a tendency to form wax as they cool. The wax
crystallizes onto the pipe wall reducing the diameter and making the surface
rough. Both effects reduce the flow efficiency of the pipeline such that more
pumping energy must be expended to transport the same volume of oil.
A variety of cleaning and scraping pigs is available to remove the wax; most
work on the principle of having a by-pass flow through the body of the pig,
over the brushes or scrapers, and out to the front. This flow washes tne wax
away in front of the pig. The action of the pig also polishes wax remaining on
the pipe wall, leaving it smooth with a low hydraulic resistance.
There are alternatives to pigging for this application. For example, it is
possible to add pour-point depressants to inhibit wax formation, or it is
possible to add flow improvers which reduce turbulence and increase the
hydraulic efficiency of the pipeline. For a given pipeline, the choice will
depend on the reduction in pumping costs against the cost of pigging or
chemical injection, if indeed there is a net gain. Regular pigging does,
Why pig a pipeline?
however, have the advantage that it proves the line is clear and there is no wax
build up which might cause problems for a line which is only pigged

Line cleaning
Similar arguments about improving pumping efficiency apply to any
products prone to depositing solids on the pipe wall. Gas line efficiencies can
be improved by removing dust or using a smooth epoxy-painted internal


Condensate clearance
In gas lines, conditions can occur where liquids condense and collect on
the bottom of the pipeline. They can be swept up by the gas to arrive at the
terminal in the occasional large slug, causing problems with the process
facilities. Slug catchers which are basically large separators are used to absorb
these fluctuations. However, it is normal to limit the potential size of the
condensate slugs by regular sphering, and thus reduce the size of the slug
catcher required.

Corrosion inhibition
Inhibitors are used to prevent the product attacking and corroding the
pipeline steel. In some cases, particularly in liquid lines, small quantities of
inhibitor are added to the flow. However, in other cases it is necessary for the
inhibitor to coat the whole inside surface of the pipe at regular intervals. This
is accomplished by retaining a slug of inhibitor between two batching pigs.
This method also ensures that the top of the pipe is coated.

Meter proving
In order to calibrate flowmeters during operation, a pig is used to displace
a precisely-known volume of fluid from a prover loop past the flowmeter.
Normally a tightly-fitting sphere is used for this purpose, and the run is
repeated until consistent results are obtained.