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Pipeline Integrity Allies

The use of scratchers and smart pigs allow CLH to keep its network of more than 4,000 kilometres of pipelines in the best conditions of cleanliness and safety.

Scratchers: inner pipe cleaning

CLH carries thousands of litres of oil products a day through its pipeline network. This constant transit caused an accumulation of microparticles from the fuel inside the pipes. To prevent excessive concentration from affecting the quality of the fuel or the integrity of the pipeline, the company uses scratchers which are tools that help clean and keep these infrastructures in the best conditions.

The concept is quite simple:

The fuel carried drives the scratcher thanks to a few cups that adapt to the diameter of the pipe like a glove (there are different models depending on the size). This contact between the rubber and the walls “scratches” them, dragging out any particles and solid remains in the way.

Smart pigs: technology to ‘see’ the pipeline

The simplicity of the scratchers fully contrasts with the complexity of smart pigs, which are sophisticated machines used to obtain sharp photographs of the inside and outside of the pipelines. They’re the basis for all sorts of transport network maintenance work as well as a source of essential information to guarantee its integrity.

Just like scratchers, they’re driven by the fuel and, as they move forward, the many sensors fitted along the pipeline collect data on the conditions of the steel and lining, among other parameters. A subsequent study of these parameters makes it possible to determine the conditions of the pipeline with great accuracy which assists with preventive maintenance.

Interesting Facts about Pigs:

They travel at the operating flow rate with an ideal range of between 0.5 and 2 metres per second. At maximum speed, they take about 14 hours to travel 100 kilometres.

The company uses the RBI (Risk Based Inspection) method based on risk monitoring to plan its inspections. An average of 800 kilometres of pipeline are checked every year.

There are different types of ‘pig’ technology, each of which specializes in specific pipeline anomalies and they’re used based on the maintenance needs.