PRCI expands in-line inspection tools research program

September 2012, Vol. 67 No. 9

Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI) recently expanded and accelerated its comprehensive research and development program aimed at enhancing current in-line inspection (ILI) tools and developing the next generation of technology to ensure pipeline safety, integrity and reliability.

The PRCI ILI Research Program is directly aligned with the ongoing initiatives of both the natural gas and hazardous liquids pipeline industries to achieve the goal of zero pipeline incidents. This objective relies heavily on the performance of ILI tools and technologies. While the current ILI technologies provide high resolution data that forms the backbone of most integrity management programs, additional enhancements will be a key aspect for achieving the zero incident target, including improvements to sensors and sensor delivery platforms and data processing methods and techniques to better understand the signals/data being collected.

"Although pipelines continue to be the safest mode of transportation, it is imperative that the industry continues to innovate to ensure the integrity of these key systems to achieve our goal of zero incidents. This goal cannot be met without research and development delivering the next generation of solutions," stated Andy Black, AOPL president and CEO.

PRCI has begun the first focused project within the larger program with over a one million dollar investment to evaluate the ability of current ILI technology to determine the pipeline metallurgical "fingerprint." The project is using data from ILI tool runs to determine when there are changes in pipeline materials and/or properties. The analysis and evaluation will take into account a detailed review of historical pipeline manufacturing processes and chemistries as they relate to ILI data sets, as pipe milling and manufacturing processes have changed over the years. These data would help operators target areas where there may be discrepancies in their knowledge of the as-built system details and ensure that operators are meeting the requirements for confirming traceable, verifiable and complete records.