The prevention and remediation of many Flow Assurance problems requires timely knowledge about the internal depositional conditions of pipelines, sealines and tubings. This information plays an important role in the decision process during repair conditions and in the optimization and monitoring of prevention technologies. Most inspection methods require either the insertion in the pipe of special devices, with a significant intrinsic risk, or imply the possibility to move along the inspected pipe, which may be difficult, expensive or time-consuming in many onshore and offshore conditions. Recently, Eni has developed a non-invasive technology for the inspection of pipes (wells and pipelines/sealines) and the characterization of the transported fluids, which require access to only one end of the pipe together with the ability to generate flow rate transients, thus resulting in straightforward applicability to many operational settings. The use of flow rate transients, though long known in principle, has been exploited only infrequently by the petroleum industry. Such techniques, however, carried out by measuring and analyzing pressure signals induced by fast flow rate changes, constitute an extremely flexible, sensitive and easily applied methodology that can be readily applied in the field. In the last three years, Eni has performed many field applications of these non-invasive detection and inspection methods, in support of pipeline and well interventions made necessary by production upsets such as the build-up of deposits. Examples of the applications of this method include:

  1. rapid and effective localization of complete and partial obstructions in wells and pipelines,

  2. quantification of the profile distribution of organic/inorganic deposits in oil and gas wells,

  3. monitoring of the movement of pigs in sealines and

  4. the investigation of other characteristics of both pipes and the fluids transported.

The basic principles of the methods will be illustrated, together with case histories showing their application to onshore and offshore operations

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