Chevron Canada Resources recently completed a hot tap on the Simonette high-pressure sour gas transmission line near Grande Prairie, Alberta. The hot tap was required to bring on new production into the Simonette pipeline without shutting in existing production. The hot tap was completed under full line pressure and gas/condenstate flow during the winter with temperatures averaging −20°C.

The design pressure of the 12 “ Gr. 359 Cat II pipeline is 9930 kPa and the line operates at 8200 kPa. The gas in the main transmission line is approximately 2% H2S and 4% CO2. The gas being brought on through the 4″ hot tap tie-in was 21% H2S and 5% CO2. At the tie-in point the transmission line temperature was 3°C.

Safely welding on the pipeline under these conditions was a considerable technical challenge. In welding sour service lines it is critical that the final weld hardness be below Vickers 248 micro hardness. This can be very difficult to achieve when welding on a line transporting a quenching medium of gas and condensate. In addition, hydrogen charging of the steel from operation in sour service can lead to hydrogen embrittlement during welding.

Ludwig & Associates developed the hot tap weld procedure and extensively tested the procedure to ensure that suitable weld microhardness was achievable under pipeline operating conditions. As part of the procedure development the welder who would perform the hot tap was tested repeatedly until he could confidently and successfully complete the weld. During fieldwork, the welding was rigorously monitored to ensure procedural compliance thereby minimizing the possibility of elevated hardness zones within the completed weldment.

This paper will detail with the technical development of the hot tap welding procedure and the successful field implementation.

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