One of the primary flow assurance challenges in the production of hydrocarbons is the prevention of pipeline blockages. Blockages can occur from a combination of improper system design, improper selection of piping and insulation materials, production chemistry aspects, inadequate or improper commissioning, startup and operating procedures, deviation from the proven operating procedures, changes in the operating conditions, intervention operations and improper maintenance procedures. The nature of the blockages can vary from "not-so-severe" to "hard-to-remediate" depending on the type of blockage.
While prevention is the best strategy, pipeline blockages do occur and it is very important to identify the cause and nature of the blockage along with its location to a reasonable level of accuracy and the operating limitations dictating the best suited remediation strategy. The criticality of blockage resolution largely depends on proper identification of the type and location of the blockage/s.