There are hundreds of thousands of pipelines strewn all over the United States. They are critical to the functioning of the economy as they help in the easy distribution of various resources across the country. These can include resources such as water, gas, raw materials, chemicals, various liquid substances and most importantly, oil.
These lines are typically made of tough and durable materials such as steel, concrete, plastic, cast iron, etc. This is so that they can withstand pressure and any external elements or weather conditions around them. They are also equipped with different devices like valves and pumps to aid their functionality.
Additionally, they come in different sizes and transverse long stretches of land crossing cities and state lines while bolted together in sections. All of these allow for easily managing them. Each section can be worked upon without affecting other sections. You can learn about their importance here.
Pipelines are typically concealed in the ground. This is to avoid damage and vandalism which may lead to environmental pollution as well as accidents. Despite their tough designs, they can experience degradation and deterioration and will from time to time require certain repairs.
It is essential that despite all these, their reliability and integrity are ensured. When they have issues, it can lead to devastating effects from loss of livelihoods to something as severe as death. Therefore, to prevent this, regular and consistent maintenance and repair work must be carried out on them.
Furthermore, by doing this, owners of pipeline infrastructures can comply with federal regulations as well as industry standards. To ensure pipelines are in top shape always, different intervention services can be carried out in maintaining them.
Pipeline Intervention Services
These are services or activities carried out on pipelines to ensure their integrity and keep them reliable. These activities help to reduce incidences of downtime, accidents and environmental risks. Downtime could cost them millions of dollars and its effects will cascade down to several other businesses.
When there is an accident, it will not only lead to loss of lives but major problems for the company. These problems include lawsuits, settlements, revocation of licenses and so on. To avoid all these, pipeline companies ensure that they take steps to operate efficiently and keep their infrastructures in excellent shape.
Maintaining or repairing pipelines may be done in many ways. This is often dependent on the issue to be fixed or the type of maintenance required. Some of the techniques used include freeze plugs, leak repairs, and line stopping. Another common technique used is called hot tapping.
This refers to when connections are installed to pipelines while they are still active. When looking at it from a welding point of view, it is used for welding onto a piece of in-service equipment. It is a technique for repairing an area that has undergone corrosion or mechanical damage.
This is a usual practice where certain sections of a pipeline that is damaged require some modification. It is a process used for making a new connection to a pipeline while it is pressurized or in service. It is referred to as under-pressure drilling and can be done on a variety of piping.
Hot tapping makes use of a tapping or drilling machine, pressure-containing fitting and a valve for creating a connection. This does not in any way disrupt the flow of the contents in the pipeline.
Typically in hot tapping, a bolt-on or weld-on saddle is attached to it using a flanged outlet. A flanged valve is also attached to the saddle while a tapping machine is attached to the valve. This machine is used to bore into the pipeline.
When the tap is finished and the valve closed, the tapping machine is then removed making the new connection live. Hot tapping prevents dangerous gases and chemicals from been released into the atmosphere. As a result, you will avoid unwarranted design and planning costs.
Hot tapping is not ideal for use if the pipe contains any combustible mixtures or substances that may be decomposed by heat. Mechanical fittings can be used for hot tapping pipelines as long as they are designed to withstand the operating pressure.
Challenges with Hot Tapping
During a hot tap, issues may occur when necessary factors are not adequately considered. Factors such as the risk of burn-through, hydrogen cracking and unstable decomposition of a product can lead to problems.
A burn-through can occur when working on a pressurized pipe and the area underneath is not tough enough to withstand the pressure. The thicker the pipe wall, the less risk for a burn-through. For hydrogen cracking, the risk is high for hot tapping. However, this can be reduced by using low-hydrogen electrodes and carefully selecting the heat input.
If the product flowing through a pipe has an unstable decomposition, it can lead to violent reactions when heated under pressure. This can be avoided by taking precautions that prevent the internal temperature from exceeding a critical one. The critical temperature is contingent on the nature of the product flowing through the pipeline.
When it is deemed that a hot tap is required, you should find a company that meets your needs. A trusted company that renders hot tapping services can devise safe procedures using various techniques to handle these challenges. They can also advise on certain aspects of active service hot tapping and welding.
They should have trained technicians that have experience in hot tapping. The provider should also have their procedures for testing and maintenance of equipment documented before arriving on site. Furthermore, their equipment must be specific to hot tapping.
Pipelines are important infrastructures that must be in excellent conditions always. This is to prevent needless downtimes as well as environmental pollution and hazards. Consequently, they need to be maintained regularly and immediate repairs must be done when there is an issue.
There are several ways to do this and hot tapping is one of these. One major advantage is that you can work on the line while it is still in service without disruption.