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Pipeline Engineering - PE. Developments in Mechanical Production Cleaning of Pipelines. Robin Brinham PPSA Aberdeen Nov. 14th. Why Pig a pipeline? Production Cleaning Process Data Gathering Phase 1 Proving Piggability Phase 2 Progressive Cleaning Factors Affecting Cleaning Tool Design

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pipeline engineering pe

Pipeline Engineering - PE

Developments in Mechanical Production Cleaning of Pipelines

Robin Brinham

PPSA Aberdeen Nov. 14th

Why Pig a pipeline?

Production Cleaning Process

Data Gathering

Phase 1 Proving Piggability

Phase 2 Progressive Cleaning

Factors Affecting Cleaning Tool Design

Designing the Right Cleaning Tool

Case Studies


why pig a pipeline
Pigging is an operation to remove debris or

unwanted deposit build up in a pipeline

Build up of deposit can:

restrict fluid flow/increase pressure

damage pumps

prevent chemicals accessing pipe wall

encourage corrosion

prevent assessment of pipeline integrity

Planned pigging program is essential to overcome the above

Why Pig A Pipeline?

Wax removed from a 14” line using a dual module tool

production cleaning process
Data Gathering

Develop Pigging Program/Design the Tool

Implement the Production Cleaning Program

Phase 1, prove piggability

Phase 2, progressive cleaning

Production Cleaning Process

Solid Works based pig design

(computer modelling can be used

to help confirm tool can traverse the line)

data gathering
Effective Production Cleaning depends critically on gathering the appropriate data

Nature/quantity of debris

Handling eg NORM, black powder etc

Line Conditions:



flow rates

product chemistry

Line Features/Geometry

Bends, ‘Y’s’, ‘T’s’, valves, id changes,

Pigging History

Data Gathering

Heat damaged PU cup

progressive cleaning phase 1
Progressive CleaningPhase 1

For infrequently pigged lines it can be critical to prove piggability.

  • Low density followed by higher density foams of increased diameter
  • Risk of wax candle (esp. <12”)
      • Once plugged d/p may harden wax consistency
  • Consider the use of chemical additives for wax dispersion prior to cleaning

Foams of different diameter and coating

progressive cleaning phase 2
Progressively increasing the “aggressiveness” of the tool minimises the risk of blockage

Tool design will generally consist of a metal body with discs and/or cups attached or both

In the final stages they may have studs, pins, scraper blades or metal plates attached

The removal of highly abrasive deposits e.g. black powder or sand particularly in gas lines often involves the use of pick up gels

Pingers/Transmitters are often used to help confirm tool location

The art is to remove enough but not too much of the debris during any one pigging run

Progressive Cleaning Phase 2

Studded Cups

factors affecting cleaning tool design
Out of the many factors affecting pig design three are especially critical:

Pipe Size

Effectiveness of attachments eg brushes in small ID’s

Higher frictional resistance on the PU for small ID tools

Weight stress for larger ID tools (friction, compression set/static stress..)

Pipe Length

Additional friction wear and possible heat build up

Bend Radius

Pig length, body tube diameter, sealing length

Factors Affecting Cleaning Tool Design

56” tools, 54% weight saving using Aluminium.

factors affecting cleaning tool design9
Factors Affecting Cleaning Tool Design

Other factors include:

  • Medium used to propel tool
  • ID changes
  • Valves, Y’s, T’s etc
  • Subsea or Cross Country
      • extra sub sea features eg manifolds, pigging loops etc
  • Pig Trap Design

Dual diameter, unbarred “T’s”…

designing the right cleaning tool
Each pipeline is different, use of ‘standard’ tool designs does not guarantee success

In many cases a bespoke approach is required:

Gather the data

Design the tool

Build the prototype

Test Loop trial

Finalise Tool design

Client witnessed trial

The overall objective to maximise tool effectiveness and to minimise risk

Equal ‘Y’ test loop arrangement with 5D back to back bends

Designing The Right Cleaning Tool
what s new
Many recent developments are incremental:

Towing module for brushes etc

Annular cleaning heads

Brush redesigns

A new innovation is the Automatic Multiple Pig Launching System(AMPL)whereby depressurising the launcher will arm the next cleaning tool ready for launch

What’s New?

AMPL pigs in launch cassette

waxy crude oil
Large trunk line with heavy wax deposits

Cleaning to be affected along considerable length and at elevated temperature

Substantial sand inclusion

Tool needed to be robust with careful choice of PU grade

Waxy Crude Oil

Cleaning tool after receipt, low flow,

check valves..

mineral extraction
Mineral Extraction

Minerals (Zn/Pb) extracted from powdered ore then residue mixed with cement and piped underground for mine roof support

  • 4.5km, 8” line used intermittently
  • Residue paste settled/set restricting line
  • Used progressive macerating pigs to remove hard sludge (5” to 6.5” in 0.5” increments).
  • Sludge removed in sections (too much to remove all at once)
  • Complete removal of all sludge achieved

Metal ‘cutters’ to break up sludge

Sludge layer breaking up

To effectively clean lines it is essential to gather the requisite information

Using a ‘standard’ pig will frequently give unsatisfactory results (every line different)

The potential cost of inadequate pipeline cleaning can be very high