Pigging Systems Inspect and Maintain Pipelines without Disrupting Production

By: RK Energy

Pipelines are the main transportation method of the oil and gas industry. It’s essential for pipelines to be monitored and maintained in order to continue working effectively. A pigging system, which consists of PIGs and PIG launchers and receivers, cleans and inspects the pipeline without stopping the flow.

PIGs Separate Products within the Pipeline
PIGs are devices that are placed inside pipelines to clean, inspect and maintain them as they pass through. They are also used to separate products within the pipeline. They are usually cylindrical or spherical and sometimes bullet shaped.

There are two theories as to why they are called “PIGs”. One is that PIG is an acronym for Pipeline Intervention Gadget. The other is that the original PIGs were made from straw wrapped in wire and when they were sent through a pipeline they screeched against the walls creating a sound like a squealing pig.

PIG Launchers and Receivers
PIG launchers and PIG receivers are attached to an end of the pipeline and allow the PIG to enter and exit. They can be pressurized or released and then opened safely to insert or remove PIGs. They come with safety valves and a locking system to help prevent accidents. Most systems use two-way launchers and receivers that can work in either direction, as it is sometimes necessary to retrieve the PIG by the launcher if there is a clog in the pipeline which prevents it from getting to the receiver.

They are developed to be suitable to the needs of each pipeline and may be horizontal or vertical based on the requirements of the pipeline. Because every pipeline is different, there isn’t a set schedule for pigging a line. Two factors that may increase the regularity of pigging are the amount of build-up contained within a pipeline and deterioration from overuse.

Why is a Pigging System Important?

PIGs scour through pipelines to remove build-up and push it safely into the receiving catch. This process increases the movement and efficiency of the pipeline and avoids damage to the pipes.

Smart PIGs can examine and store information about the pipeline and provide data and locations in regards to defects or issues inside. The necessity to unearth functioning segments of the pipeline is greatly reduced because of this. It allows for close monitoring, including damage progression, of the affected sections.

Some PIGs can inspect the pipeline for welding defects, fissures, internal flaws and other problems as well as provide estimates of the interior layout of the pipeline.

Separation and Environmental Benefit
PIGs can separate different products such as diesel fuel, gasoline, fuel oil and other liquids within a pipeline. Alternatively, without PIGs, the pipeline would need to be cleaned out, often with solvents, between products or risk contamination, both of which result in waste.

PIG launchers and receivers are essential to a pigging system. Their safety valves, security locks, and ability to pressurize and release ensure that PIGs can be loaded and removed safely without risk of damage to equipment, the pipeline or workers.

RK Energy specializes in fabricating PIG Launchers and Receivers in our 110,000 square foot climate controlled facility. If you are interested in finding out more about RK Energy’s products and services, contact us at rkenergy@rkindustries.com.