Axial Strain Inline Inspection has transitioned from an experimental to commercial technology that will develop significantly as the industry requires. Axial strain tool measures total elastic longitudinal strain on a pipeline including: imposed strains due to manufacturing; construction/cold bending; backfilling; and loading associated with abnormal forces such as ground movement and settlement. The technology is based on magnetostriction, which measures the permeability and magnetic induction of ferromagnetic materials. Magnetostriction is well understood, but the application of the technology to active pipelines is relatively recent. Currently, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) inline inspections (ILI) effectively identify areas of localized bending strains and can be used for monitoring of pipeline movements run to run, but they do not detect axial strain associated with either tensile or compressive loading. Currently, axial strain modules are mounted behind Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL) platforms and have either 4 or 8 probes that provide circumferential readings typically at 0.5 to 1 m intervals. Data is either considered “trend” or “calibrated” depending on whether representative test samples are available. Interpretations are provided by the vendor in the form of Axial Strain Variation which is the averaged value of a set of readings with the hoop strain component removed. Additionally, data from each probe is analyzed to establish the maximum and minimal longitudinal strains (εmax/εmin) with locations around the circumference of the pipeline. Given the potential complexity of locked-in strains, simple calculations using sinusoidal bending relationships do not apply. Therefore, curve fitting analysis is required to determine the circumferential strains. This paper includes operational learnings from the analyses of data from eight (8) Axial Strain ILI runs within variable terrain on some natural gas transmission and gathering pipelines in British Columbia by verifying strains due to known abnormal loading as well as identifying previously unknown features (landslides, in particular). In addition, sources of error, data anomalies, current limitations and potential improvements of the technology are discussed.

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