Pipeline strain monitoring using inertially-equipped pipeline inspection tools was developed in 1986 and is now an established method to identify pipe movement and associated bending strain. These pipeline inspections, however, are limited by the operating range of the electronics used in the inspection tools; these tools cannot be used for high-temperature pipelines that require strain monitoring. Suncor required that a high-temperature tool be designed and built for their 60 km Hot Bitumen (HotBit) pipeline from Firebag to Fort McMurray. Suncor approached various In-line Inspection providers to design an inertial mapping tool that would operate at temperatures to 150°C.
Suncor selected Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI) for this development project based on their reputation and their historical development with respect to pipeline strain monitoring. This paper outlines the development process chosen for this project, the various technical challenges that were overcome, and presents the results from the In-line Inspections performed at three temperatures spanning 120 degrees.