Pipeline Safety and Integrity: The Pipe Pig

The Advantages of Natural Gas
June 18, 2013
Natural Gas Storage and Infrastructure
August 12, 2013

Pipeline Safety and Integrity: The Pipe Pig

At Snelson, you’ll frequently hear us talking and writing about safety and integrity being a core value and we mean it. It might sound like nice words on a web page displayed with our awards, but let’s dig deeper into the topic if you’ll pardon the pun.


The Pipe Pig and Natural Gas Pipeline Inspection

A major component to safety and accident prevention takes place during the in-line pipe inspection. Regular inspection is not only required, but necessary part of the process to ensure the on-going integrity of the pipeline from start to finish. Build-up in the line can cause issues in the flow while cracks, corrosion, or other flaws can be even more damaging.

At Snelson, we consider it our responsibility to take the lead in proactively identifying any potential environmental and safety health concerns.

A pipeline inspection gauge (or pipe pig) is used to clean the insides as well as gather data about the pipeline walls. We want to be aware of any potential corrosion which would be a red flag and require maintenance.

The pig is installed at the beginning of the pipeline and uses the flow of the natural gas to move through the system to the other end. This process is efficient in terms of time and money because there is no need to restrict flow of the product during the inspection.

The technology that captures this data is encased within the tool so as not to be in direct contact with the natural gas. Because it can’t communicate with the outside world while inside the natural gas pipeline, the data is stored internally until it is extracted from the pipeline at the end of its route.

After completion of the route, the data is analyzed for possible location-specific defects and appropriate measures are taken to fix them.

Successfully Preventing Accidents

A few key things make this process successful in preventing accidents. For one, because of the location-specific data, Snelson can pinpoint the possible defects without having to dig up more pipeline than is necessary.

As well, we can monitor progression and rate of change in the pipeline walls in order to take appropriate action preventing environmental damage.

Other factors that come into play are the size of the pipe compared to the environment. Large-diameter pipeline is typically buried and is constructed far from metropolitan areas. Smaller-diameter pipeline is used to distribute the gas to the consumer because it is lower volume and lower pressure, reducing any safety risks.

Multi-diameter pipelines have been developed to help natural gas pipeline construction companies test their entire network.

Snelson has years of experience in building launcher and receiver pigging facilities for the natural gas industry and in using pigs in the construction process as required by the project and client. Safety is of utmost importance in everything we do at Snelson, and we do all possible to provide the highest quality work, work done with pride and integrity.