As part of a major pipeline expansion, two deactivated 24″ diameter pipeline segments with a combined length of 192 kilometres will be assessed and upgraded to operational status. These line segments include a 42 kilometre section within the North Thompson valley of British Columbia, and a 150 kilometre segment through the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia.

Reactivating the lines to operational condition is a multi-staged process, which will be partially guided by a National Energy Board Condition requiring the issuance of a certificate from an independent certifying body that the system is fit for service and meets all applicable requirements of CSA Z662, Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems. This certificate must be unconditional and remain in effect for a period of 5 years.

The need for unconditional certification of fitness for service drives the need for a comprehensive assessment of the pipeline condition using a broad slate of inline inspection technologies. Tools were selected for the assessment of deformations, metal loss, manufacturing anomalies and cracking. The lines were maintained with a low pressure nitrogen blanket for between 9 and 13 years prior to the start of the reactivation work and it was therefore not possible to run the tools using service fluid.

Several options were considered for propelling the inline inspection tools including nitrogen, compressed air and water slugs in compressed nitrogen or air. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and modelling was carried out to simulate the transport of the tools through each segment. The modelling needed to account for pipe elevation changes, wall thickness changes, valves, tool drive friction, acceptable tool velocity, and the pressure of the drive medium in the pipeline.

The modelling focused on the following constraints:

i. Ensure ILI data quality

ii. Ensure safety considering the potential presence of defects in the lines

iii. Minimize risk

iv. Minimize overall cost

These constraints guided a flow modelling/feasibility study for inspecting the lines with the 4 tools. The objective of the study was to determine the optimum configuration of propellant, inspection tools, and line segmentation while ensuring a safe, economical operation resulting in optimal data collection.

The paper will provide some background on the line segments being reactivated and pressure limitations that were adopted for ILI runs. The majority of the content will focus on the determination of tool drive technique, how simulation occurred and how the actual execution of the runs compared. Details regarding the challenges and troubleshooting required to successfully complete the integrity surveys will also be discussed in depth.

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