While In-line Inspection Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL) tools have been used for many years to successfully manage corrosion related threats, small pinhole-sized metal-loss anomalies remain a significant concern to pipeline operators. These anomalies can grow undetected to develop leaks and cause significant consequences. The physical dimensions of these anomalies, their proximity to and/or interaction with other nearby anomalies can challenge MFL’s detection and sizing capabilities. Other factors such as tool speed, cleanliness of the line and incorrect assumptions have an impact as well. For pipeline operators to develop effective and efficient mitigation programs and to estimate risks to an asset, the underlying uncertainties in detection and sizing of pinholes need to be well understood.

By using magnetic modeling software, the MFL response of metal-loss anomalies can be determined, and the effect of a number of factors such as radial position, wall thickness, depth profile, pipe cleanliness and tool speed on MFL response and reporting accuracy can be determined. This paper investigates these factors to determine the leading causes of uncertainties involved in the detection and sizing of pinhole corrosion. The understanding of these uncertainties should lead to improvements in integrity management of pinhole for pipeline operators.

This paper first investigates the physical measurement methodology of MFL tools to understand the limitations of MFL technology. Then, comparisons of actual MFL data with field excavation results were studied, to understand the limitations of specific MFL technologies. Finally, recommendations are made on how to better use and assess MFL results.

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