Effective purging of air out of a pipeline section before commissioning by direct displacement with natural gas has been safely practiced for decades with the recognition that flammable interfacial mixing zone between the driving gas (behind) and the air (ahead) is inevitable. In cases when the purge velocity is below a threshold dictated by the gravity current velocity (defined in AGA Purging Principles and Practices, 2001), natural gas being lighter than air can in fact ride over air being the heavier gas and short circuit the flow path to the vent at the other end of the pipe section, thus trapping behind pockets of air that could potentially introduce risk of internal explosion with subsequent damage to the pipe section and pose a safety issue to field personnel. Therefore, maintaining the purge velocity above this threshold by a good margin has been a common practice in the purging procedure to-date. In fact, maintaining the purge velocity above the threshold can be controlled by the injection press or flow, where tools and dynamic purging models have been successfully developed and proven to be useful. However, AGA recommends that the drive purge gas pressure be limited to 689 kPag (100 psig) in the inlet purge line to the pipe section to avoid the risk of detonation. In some cases when the inlet purge line is relatively small compared to the main pipe section, this limit on the purge pressure would result in gas/air interfacial velocity much lower than the threshold velocity, hence stratification will occur. This paper provides insight into the possibility of increasing the purge pressure above AGA limit to avoid stratification, while conforming to the safety aspects related to detonation. A purge model is developed to overcome the shortcoming in AGA purge software that limits the purge pressure to maximum of 689 kPag (100 psig). Field trial was conducted to validate the model which demonstrated, as a proof of concept, a successful purge procedure with purge pressure = 5517 kPag (800 psig) in NPS 1.5 purge line to purge nitrogen out of NPS 42, 5.8 km section of a pipeline.

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