Pigging is undertaken for a variety of purposes; most of them related to the health and operation of the pipeline. Cleaning pigging ensures that a pipeline has acceptable flow conditions for transportation of the fluid or gas in question. Batching pigging maintains the purity of product and permits a single pipeline to be used to transport different products. In-line inspection or diagnostic pigging has been adopted by the industry as the method for assessing the health and integrity of a pipeline.
The existing infrastructure of pipework and pipeline networks is old – getting older – and is constantly being extended. Pipeline operators face an enormous challenge – not to mention legal responsibility – to keep these systems in safe working order and to avoid accidents.
As a technical activity, pigging is an evolving and advancing discipline. The Pigging Products & Services Association (PPSA) was founded in 1990 with the aim “to promote the knowledge of pigging and its related products and services by providing a channel of communication between the members themselves and with users and other interested parties”.Article continues below…
The most important aspect of the Association’s activity, and of our members, is service. Every pipeline is, somehow, individual. Nearly every pig run is similarly unique: the pig is chosen for specific performance characteristics, the run is prepared, results of the run are assessed and data saved. The cyclical nature of maintenance and pigging means that all present and future activities are conditioned by what has been done in the past.
The PPSA currently has more than 100 members; the collective experience and knowledge of this membership base is available to the industry. All aspects of pigging are represented in the PPSA’s membership from a variety of companies, technologies and individuals. The PPSA has proven itself a valuable resource for pipeline operators around the world as a source of information and reference to reputable suppliers.
The Association has a panel of industry experts, with experience in all aspects of pigging. These are individuals with long and extensive experience, and who are not associated with particular member companies. Pipeline engineers with specific problems are able to address questions to the PPSA through a free-of-charge technical enquiry service and obtain a first approximation evaluation and recommendation of a solution.
Growing in numbers
Not only does the PPSA’s list of members continue to grow, but the Association is active in more and more countries worldwide. Over the next few years, the Association plans to participate in events in a number of new regions such as Asia-Pacific and South America. In addition, PPSA’s presence in Europe and North America – traditionally the Association’s base – will increase.
The oil and gas industry faces a demographic crunch – none of us are getting any younger. The PPSA seeks to encourage young engineers to learn about pigging and pipelines and so this year, the Association will be offering student memberships and will endeavour to establish contacts with universities around the world.
The PPSA seminar, now an established annual event, takes place in Aberdeen, United Kingdom, every autumn where the Association brings together pipeline operators and PPSA members to discuss pigging related topics of current interest.
Over the next few issues, articles by PPSA members will present solutions to difficult pigging and pipeline integrity issues that will be of broad interest to pipeline engineers. These include articles on ‘pipeline isolation and weld (joint) testing’ and another on ‘improving ILI crack inspection – new enhancements to ultrasonic crack detection ILI tools’.