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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 l.jpg

Pipeline Engineering - PE

Developments in Mechanical Production Cleaning of Pipelines

Robin Brinham

PPSA Aberdeen Nov. 14th

Agenda l.jpg

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 l.jpg

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 l.jpg

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 l.jpg

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 l.jpg
Progressive Cleaning gathering the appropriate dataPhase 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 l.jpg

    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 l.jpg

    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 l.jpg
    Factors Affecting Cleaning Tool Design especially critical:

    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 l.jpg

    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 l.jpg

    Many recent developments are incremental: designs does not guarantee success

    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 l.jpg

    Large trunk line with heavy wax deposits designs does not guarantee success

    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 l.jpg
    Mineral Extraction designs does not guarantee success

    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

    Conclusions l.jpg

    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