Drinkwater Products

Pigging in Pipelines

How Pigging in Pipelines Work and Types of Pigs 

Pigging in pipelinesPigging in pipelines is important: pipeline pigging is a form of pipeline maintenance that involves the use of pigs for cleaning and inspecting purposes. The process is implemented without necessarily interfering with the flow of product through the pipeline. The piping pig has many applications, such as oil and gas, lubricating oil, chemical plants, food, and pharmaceuticals.  Choosing the right pipeline pig for a particular application requires extensive experience, which we at Drinkwater Products offers.

When debris such as wax, black powder or iron sulfides obstruct pipelines, flow integrity will suffer and accidents may occur. It is possible to prevent these problems by using pigging in pipelines.

A process called pigging involves inserting devices called "pigs" into pipelines in order to perform pipeline cleaning and inspections. Regardless of the size of the pipeline, pipe pigging can be performed without interrupting the flow of material.

Pigs are installed into the pipeline at valve or pump stations whose valves and pipes have special configurations that allow pigs to be loaded into launchers. Product flow drives the pig through the line until it reaches the pig receiver, after which it will be removed from the line.

Intelligent Pigging in Pipelines

A smart pig is used to detect corrosion and other irregularities in pipelines through the use of an inspection probe.

Additionally, intelligent pigs perform advanced inspections while they traverse pipes, rather than simply cleaning them. In addition, smart pigs employ nondestructive testing procedures, such as ultrasonics and magnetic flux leakage testing, to check for erosion corrosion, metal loss, pitting, and hydrogen induced cracking, among other things. Moreover, the pipeline's diameter, curvature, bends, and temperature can also be measured. 

There are numerous advantages of smart pigging over traditional pipe inspection methods. By using this method, pipelines can be inspected and cleaned without interrupting the flow of product. The pipeline can also be completely inspected without having to have inspectors go down its entire length. Furthermore, it provides cleaning and inspection services at the same time, saving companies both time and money.

How Does Pipeline Pigging Work?

Pigging consists of three components: a pig, a launcher, and a receiver. The pig, which is typically a cylindrical object, is propelled through a pipeline by the product flow. 

The pig leaves the pig launcher from one end of the pipeline (launcher station) and the receiver retrieves it from the other end (receiver station). Pigging pipelines is a potentially dangerous procedure that should only be performed by professionals. 

Choosing the right pipeline pig for the job is crucial to achieving the best results.

Types of pigs for pigging in pipelines:

The utility pig

Utility pigs are used to clean and dewater, gas pipelines and crude oil pipelines. The utility pig sweeps the internal section of the line and removes debris and solids such as wax, black powder, bacteria and liquids that are blocking the flow of hydrocarbons. 

Pigs used for dewatering or sealing provide an airtight connection to flush liquid from the line or separate different in-line media and keep them separate during processing. 

Further subgroups of utility pigs include:

  • The Mandrel Pig is usually composed of a steel mandrel body with replaceable cups and discs (sealing elements). In mandrel pigs, special brushes remove debris from within pipeline sections. A key benefit of this type of pig is its cost-effectiveness - worn-out components can be replaced and a brand-new pig is created.
  • Cast Polyurethane Pigs - These are made of one solid piece of polyurethane.

  • Foam Pigs are made from polymer foam and can be embedded with solid abrasives such as brushes.

  • Sphere Pigs - Constructed of polyurethane or Neoprene, most spherical pigs are inflatable and filled with liquids, such as glycol or water, to retain their shape when subjected to extreme pressures, which often occur within gas pipelines.

Gel Pigs

A gel pig is composed of a variety of chemical substances, such as rigid polymers and high-viscosity gels. Gel pigs are usually used during pipeline commissioning or maintenance. These types of lines are ideal for so-called "unpiggable" pipelines with internal valves, sharp bends, or special structures that might cause pigs to get stuck.

It is not necessary to use a launcher and receiver system for gel pigs. Gel pigs often work together with other types of pigs in an effort to improve efficiency and reduce degradation of the primary pig components. Additionally, they can assist in the recovery of pigs stuck in pipelines.

Inspection Pigs

Smart pigs, also known as inspection pigs, are used to inspect the inner workings of gas pipelines before remedial work begins. Using ultrasonic sensors, RF modules, and pig gauge plates, these devices can measure parameters such as diameter, curvature, thickness, pressure, metal loss, and temperature. Modern inspection pigs can detect a wide range of issues in pipelines, such as leaks, cracks, wax accumulations, and corrosion, with a high degree of accuracy.

Specialty Pigs

Usually, these types of pigs, or "plugs", are used to seal off entire sections of pipeline while remedial activities are being conducted. Pipeline maintenance companies use specialty pigs to allow the flow of fluids through their pipelines to remain relatively unobstructed while they clean them.

The following are some advantages of partnering with Drinkwater Products:

  • Products of the highest quality backed by lifelong customer support;
  • We offer a range of pipe pigs and accessories from some of the leading manufacturers;
  • We have a broad inventory to make sure clients can find the pipe pigs they need.

When it comes to buying pipeline pigs or other pipeline maintenance solutions, Drinkwater Products offers a range of online options in order to make it easier for you. Oftentimes, products for pipeline pigging cannot be found locally, which is why our customers buy online. Drinkwater Products offers a wide selection of pipeline products of unparalleled quality and provides unmatched guidance during the selection process to help customers select the right product for their application.

Read similar topics: Pipeline Pigging , pigging pipeline procedures, Pigging of Pipelines

Snippet - Pigging in PIpelines

We sell PigginPoles, which are the safest way to retrieve pigs from pipelines. Rather than having steel hooks like some poles, PigginPoles are made of all aluminum, so they never create sparks.

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