Advances in Mechanical Damage Management
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The threat to pipeline integrity arising from mechanical damage can result in leak or rupture when critical conditions are present such as plain dents, dents with coincident stress concentrators, wrinkles or buckles. Pipeline Operators, world-wide, have routinely employed in-line inspection technologies such as mechanical caliper, magnetic flux leakage and ultrasonic in-line inspection tools to assess mechanical damage. When the frequency of in-line predictions for mechanical damage is nil then condition discovery and remediation can be straightforward and safety insured with minimal impact to pipeline integrity resources. When significant numbers of mechanical damage conditions are reported by in-line inspection an understanding of the performance of those in-line tools for detection and discrimination of mechanical damage can be used to insure immediate and future safety while optimizing resources employed responding to the in-line tool predictions. Current in-line tools technologies are not able to provide claimed performance specifications for all mechanical damage conditions hence comparisons of assessment predictions with field results is the only way to determine true in-line tool performance. Significant applied research has been conducted to understand the capabilities of inspection tools to detect and discriminate mechanical damage. This paper reviews recent research programs and resulting developments of new direct examination technologies, specifically portable laser profilometry for mechanical damage and the application of direct measurement data for making repair determination and determination of true in-line tool performance. This paper also addresses the application of true in-line performance data to in-line tool mechanical damage features left in a pipeline in order to manage the risk of false acceptance of in-line tool predictions and justify re-inspection intervals.
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