By Andy Choi
The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has employed the Explorer Robotic Inspection tool from Pipetel Technologies for inspecting its gas pipelines.
Pipetel's Explorer 6/8
This self-propelled robotic tool has replaced the conventional inspection tools previously used by the company. The tool dubbed as “smart pigs” has been successful in inspecting pipelines, which seemed ‘unpiggable’ as there wasn’t enough propelling force for the tool to move through the pipeline.
The SoCalGas Company had approached Pipetel for providing inspection solutions as part of the pipeline integrity management program. The company entered into a contract with Pipetel for conducting inspection on a section of pipelines, which were categorised as unpiggable. The inspection results were provided through their Datatel analysis software. The inspection of a pipeline having a diameter of 8 in. was conducted using Pipetel’s Explorer 6/8 inspection tool, while the pipeline was functional without interfering with their service. The robotic tool can move in both directions and is self-propelling. Using conventional tools was ruled out as there wasn’t enough flow through the pipelines to propel the tool. Additionally, a cased segment of the pipeline which was under a railway track was also inspected. The development work of the Explorer inspection tool was financially aided by NYSEARCH and The North East Gas Association. It was also supported by the Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Operations Technology Development.