The technology connection – learn more about pipelines


Today’s pipeline operators have a world of innovative technology at their fingertips, helping them keep their operations safe, environmentally-responsible, and efficient.

Here are five interesting facts about pipeline technology:

#1 Pipeline companies use electricity to help prevent pipeline corrosion

Small pieces of metal, or anodes, are placed at intervals along the pipeline and charged with a small electrical current. The current flows through the ground water to the pipeline, and directs corrosion to the anode rather than the pipeline.

This pipeline technology is called cathodic protection.

#2 Valves help pipeline operators control the flow of product

Block valves and check valves are placed at strategic intervals along the pipeline to monitor and control flow and pressure. When anomalies are detected they can alert control room operators instantly so that decisions can be made about appropriate action.

#3 Smart pigs detect leaks

Pipeline inspection tools known as smart pigs travel down pipelines, cleaning them or inspecting for anomalies. The tools can be equipped with a range of specialist technologies including the following:

    • Magnetic flux leakage detectors, which measure disturbances in the magnetic field that could indicate metal loss.
    • Caliper tools, which detect dents or depressions that could indicate the start of a weak spot in the pipe.
    • Electromagnetic acoustic technology, which can detect cracks in the pipe using sound waves.

#4 Electric field mapping (EFM) provides continuous pipeline monitoring

When a pipeline operator detects a section of pipeline that warrants further monitoring, EFM technology allows them to measure tiny changes in electrical current density. Collected from sensors mounted along the section, the data is then passed to control room operators.

#5 Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) technology never sleeps

Highly skilled technicians in pipeline control rooms monitor an array of data, supplied via SCADA control system software. Data is received and monitored, 24/7 from a variety of technologies including sensors, fibre optics, smart pigs, video surveillance and more.

Technicians have the skills to identify any anomaly that could pose a risk, and the authority to immediately shut down a pipeline if necessary.

This is just a small sampling of the technologies used by pipeline companies to keep their operations safe. Others include GIS, geohazard management and weld testing.

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