As pipeline assets age and future production environments become increasingly challenging (sour, arctic, microbiological corrosion), there is a need to continually advance tools to ensure pipeline integrity. Onshore and offshore pipeline repair methods present challenges such as cost, personnel exposure, simultaneous operations, and remote environment. For these reasons, there is value in development of advanced tools for pipeline integrity management. This paper discusses the need for and potential of internal pipeline repair systems to remotely repair damaged pipelines. A laser-based internal pipeline repair methodology is presented along with discussion of the repair incentives.
The breadth of the oil and gas (O&G) industry has necessitated major investments in pipelines for the transportation of its fluid products. The integrity of these pipelines is a primary consideration for both financial and environmental reasons. Difficult scenarios include deep water and arctic pipelines, unpiggable lines, older pipelines, and lines buried under roadways or rivers (Burkhardt et al., 2008, Laursen et al., 2010). The criticality of integrity management is further escalated by exploration and development of resources in more challenging and environmentally-sensitive locations, changes in regulatory requirements, and enhanced resource recovery techniques that necessitate the prolonged use of pipelines beyond their originally intended design life. This makes it increasingly important for the industry to develop and deploy advanced tools for pipeline integrity management. While outside influences such as external corrosion and mechanical damage can challenge pipeline integrity, one of the serious risks is internal corrosion. The inherent corrosivity of many transported fluids can reduce wall thickness or potentially induce cracking. A 2002 study stewarded by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers International (NACE) indicated that corrosion leads to an estimated cost of $7 billon to monitor, replace, and maintain gas and liquid transmission pipelines in the United States alone (NACE, 2002).