Nippon Steel Pipeline & Engineering (NSPE) is expanding the pipeline integrity assessment technologies that can be offered to pipeline owners and operators in Japan. As part of this effort, NSPE has been working with Intero Integrity Services (Intero) to introduce Intero's Pipe Explorer, a self-propelled pipe inspection robot, to Japan.
NSPE is a Japanese construction company and pipeline construction is one of NSPE’s main expertise. Japan is a country where earthquakes occur. The earthquakes have damaged many structures and lifelines, including pipelines. Japan also has dense population and relies on pipeline networks to provide reliable energy. Global standards, such as API standards, are globally used and applied to most of the gas industry. However, in Japan, original Japanese standards are used to protect and prevent underground gas transmission pipelines from damage. There is an increasing number of pipelines that have been in operations for many years in Japan. Under these circumstances, there is a need to provide pipeline owners with suitable technologies and methods to offer inspection technologies not only to detect pipeline defects, but also to evaluate the integrity and safety of their pipelines.
NSPE has been working since 2017 to introduce Intero's Pipe Explorer, provided globally as inspection technology for unpiggable pipelines, to Japan. After successfully completing the evaluation tests, the introduction was postponed for two years due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, NSPE and Intero completed an assessment of a pipeline segment for a Japanese pipeline operator for the first time in 2022.
This paper will provide an overview of Pipe Explorer technology and information of an evaluation test conducted for its application in Japan.