ABSTRACT

Inspection of surface and near-surface indications has been always a challenge in the oil and gas industry due to the limitations of the commonly utilized conventional Nondestructive Testing (NDT) methods and their implementation difficulties such as surface preparation requirements, reliance on operator skills, slow deployment and inability to archive inspection data. Keeping pace with industrial revolution (IR) 4.0, Nondestructive testing (NDT) methods have been evolving to be digitized by automated data evaluation and visualization of inspection results while improving detection capability, decision making processes and speeding up the inspection activities. This paper will discuss and analyze the trials conducted to validate the capability of the new digital generation of Eddy Current Test (ECT); namely Eddy Current Array (ECA), based on comparisons made against alternate methods. The paper will also illustrate the principles, applications and benefits of ECA technology. ECA technology shows significant potential as a replacement for conventional NDT methods, i.e., Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) and Penetrant Testing (PT) that are used for the inspection of surface-breaking and near-surface indications including Environmental-Assisted Cracking.

INTRODUCTION

In the oil and gas industry, solid metal equipment such as pipelines, pressure vessels, heat exchangers and valves are susceptible to surface cracks and discontinuities attributed to cyclic loading, process environment and severe operating conditions. These anomalies affect the safety, structural functionality, reliability, integrity and life cycle of the equipment. They could lead to catastrophic incidents if not detected timely, evaluated, monitored and properly repaired. Thus, fracture mechanics calculations in combination with structural integrity assessment is employed to estimate solid structure remaining life [1]. Consequently, such assessments gave rise to the importance of Nondestructive Examinations (NDE) and its abilities to detect and characterize surface discontinuity, providing useful information to the structural integrity assessment. This is evident by the inclusion of NDE requirements in all international standards and regulations that govern the entire equipment life cycle. For instance, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code B31.3 for Process Piping and the American Petroleum Institute (API) code 570 for piping inspection articulate meticulous guidelines on the utilization of NDE to detect anomalies. The API-577 code details all NDE requirements to verify weld soundness and detect weld defects [2], [3] & [4].

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