Mexico’s Energy Reform has opened up various interesting and unique opportunities for energy infrastructure. A CO2 pipeline project that was recently completed in southern Mexico provides a perfect example of how to breathe new life to deteriorated pipeline infrastructure — infrastructure that would have typically been written off. By coupling a unique pipeline inspection method with a novel lining system, two 28-kilometer (17 mile) pipelines were rehabilitated in record time and in a cost-effective manner. The project consisted of two 12 and 18-inch (300 and 450 millimeters) CO2 transport pipelines that had been out of service for 22 years and that are a central component for a high-profile fertilizer project. Replacing these deteriorated assets with a new transport pipeline was not an option due to time, environmental, permitting and budgetary constraints. The rehabilitated system had to offer a minimum 25-year service life required by the owner.

To put this aging infrastructure back into service, it was essential to assess the condition of the pipelines with a high level of accuracy and precision which would allow for the rehabilitation of the pipeline and installation of an interactive liner to extend the system’s serviceable life for a minimum of 25 years. The challenge, however, was that these pipelines were non-piggable by traditional methods.

By using a tethered MFL and Caliper ILI solution, the pipelines were each inspected in 13 separate sections with the level of detail necessary to assess the condition and suitability of the rehabilitation strategy selected for the project. Fast-track scheduling constraints required 24-hour data analysis turnaround of reports identifying and discriminating areas of modest and significant corrosion as well as deformations including areas of significant weld slag which could complicate the installation of the liners.

Once high-quality data was available, pinpoint repairs were possible with a combination of carbon fiber reinforcement and steel pipe replacement. Afterwards, the pipelines were internally lined with a patented process that effectively provides a double containment system. A grooved liner and the host steel pipe create an annular space that is pressurized with air and remotely monitored. The system is able to detect even a small pressure drop in the annulus that would occur in case the integrity is breached, or a pinhole develops in the steel pipe. With the grooved liner, external repairs can be conducted while the line continues to operate without interrupting CO2 service to the plant.

By applying these novel solutions, the rehabilitated pipelines will transport carbon dioxide to a revitalized fertilizer plant in a safe and efficient manner for the next 25 years.

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