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Vinicius de C. Lima 1, José Augusto P. da Silva 2,
Rodrigo Antunes 3

Copyright 2019, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP

This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Pipeline Conference and Exhibition 2019, held
between 03 and 05 of September, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the
Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the
author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is
presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its
Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Pipeline
Conference and Exhibition 2019.


This paper presents PipeWay pre-commissioning caliper inspection experience in offshore

pipelines, mostly in the ultra-deep water pre-salt area of Brazil. Considered as an extreme
operation condition for a standard inline tool, PipeWay Caliper tools were designed and
submitted to high pressure 240bar (these equipment were tested up to 310bar); sea water as
pumping fluid (a conduct medium, any insolation failure in caliper cabling could generate
sensor loss); low temperatures down to 4oC; high autonomy (up to 5 months in stand-by mode);
and back loaded into a PLR (Pig launch and receiver offshore equipment). After the tool
loading, PLR+PIGs were deployed and connected into the pipeline to be inspected,
approximately 2000 meters deep, and pigs were launched and received by ROVs (Remotely
Operated Vehicles). Technical aspects of the tool, operation conditions, and acceptance tests
will be presented in this paper.

Keywords: Inline Inspection, Pipeline Inspetions, Pre-comissioning, Pigging, Caliper Pig.

1. Introduction

The inspection of pipelines in deep water presents technological challenges for pigging
activity; in fact, the requirement is for unconventional pigging techniques. The inspection tools
must work in a scenario of demanding parameters: high wall thickness, Wye connections,
hybrid lines, high pressure, low and high temperatures, among others. During pipeline
construction, pre-commissioning with Cleaning Pigs and Caliper Pig service are performed to
ensure the pipe delivery within acceptance criteria. Non-conventional pig launching
technologies are demanded, and a “Fist Run Success” is extremely important, due to high
offshore costs.
PipeWay had to design, develop, build and test a tool that will meet all the mentioned
extreme conditions and meet the “First Run Success” required by the client. Next it will be
discussed PipeWay experience with Caliper Pig service in deep water and pre-salt area in

Master, Automation Engineer – PipeWay Engenharia.
Master, Telecommunications Engineer – PipeWay Engenharia.
Mechanical Engineer – PipeWay Engenharia.
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2. Caliper Main Function and Tool General Information

The primary function of the Caliper Pig is the geometric inspection of the pipeline, to
identify any reduction in diameter or other geometric anomalies that may have occurred during
the life of the pipeline and / or its construction. The Caliper Pig is composed of several
mechanical components (pressure vessels, odometer, flanges, etc.) Polyurethane (cups and / or
disks), electronic devices, on board or not, (caliper sensors, joint, temperature sensors,
odometer, electronics, etc.). Generally composed in 2 (two) modules, as tool specification. See
Figure 1.
For an offshore job, the tool design and configuration is guided according to pipeline
characteristics to be inspected and operational conditions (diameter, length, fluid, bends, fittings
and specifications).

Figure 1 – Caliper Pig Assembled for an Offshore Inspection

3. Challenges for Caliper Offshore Construction Inspection

There are some challenges to inspect an offshore pipeline in construction with a caliper

 High Pressure Condition: operation pressure up to 310bars, not common in pigging

 Sea Water as pumping fluid: Sea Water is a conduct medium, any insolation failure
in caliper cabling can generate sensor loss. Only a few pig operators deals with sea
 Difficult access to the Pipeline Launcher and Receiver (PLR) and Pig Loading: The
Pigs are back-loaded (non-standard pig operation) onshore or on a vessel deck; The
PLR are subsea, deep water, and remote controlled, on vertical or horizontal
 Caliper pig re-run can delay the project schedule.
 Pig and Battery Endurance: Pig autonomy requested up to 120 DAYS.

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4. Description of Caliper Service Implementation

The Caliper Pig Service Implementation is divided in two principal phases:

Preparation and Operational.

Preparation Phase:

 Engineering And Fabrication

 Function Tests
 Calibration And Assembly
 Mobilization

Operational Phase:

 Inspection
 Data Analysis

Main technical aspects of the services are described below:

4.1. Preparation Phase

4.1.1 Engineering and Fabrication:

An inline inspection tool is selected according to project requirements as pipeline

specifications: pipe internal diameter, bends, wyes, wall thickness, operation conditions, pig
loading, tracking method etc. The tool is evaluated and any modification needed is designed
and approved by PipeWay Engineering department. After completion of project requirements
and tool design review, parts are manufactured according to the designed drawings. PipeWay
Design for a Caliper offshore project are:

 Tool Size Selection: Due to high wall thickness, greater than 1in, in some pipelines,
a smaller diameter tool could be selected with cups adaptations. I.e.: for an 18in Job,
a 16in standard tool is adapted.

 Back-up Sensors (double as standard): A back-up sensor flange was added to a

Caliper Standard tool, doubling the number of caliper sensors in two sensor flanges.
The goal is to improve the tool reliability and first run success in an extreme
operation condition requested in these projects. With a back-up sensor flange,
PipeWay Caliper run can be validated even with an entire sensor flange loss.
Another sensor failure situation, the run can be validated with two adjacent sensor
loss, as the tool has 1 back-up sensor per spot. See figure 2.

 Turn-On Special Set-up (Safe Mode): Clients required a tool with long lifebattery,
in some cases, extremely long life, as will be described in the two cases present in
this paper. Common turn-on system in the market, as contact and pressure switches,
could not be used. In most cases because the PLR are not sealed, so the Caliper Pig
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will be in contact with seawater and high pressure of column water at all time.
PipeWay designed a low power control board to turn-on the caliper with the
odometers. Turn-on Position, Quadrature and filtering algorithms were
implemented to avoid false pig start.

 Back Load – Special Conical Cups Design: Due to the PLR construction a
connection to the pipeline, the Pigs should be back loaded to the PLR. There is no
gate for a standard pig loading. See figure 3. As PipeWay Caliper Pig has sensors
inside the conical cups, the measuring method was not changed, and a special cup
was design to permit the backward movement without collapsing. The PLR ID and
transitions are carefully studied for this implementation.

Figure 2 – Caliper Offshore Double Sensors Flange

Fig. 3 – Offshore PLR and Load And Launch Direction.

4.1.2 Function Tests

In order to improve the tool reliability and first run success the following function tests
is performed during the caliper preparation:

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 Caliper Turn-On and Acquiring Test: Test the caliper electronic acquisition, caliper turn-on
simulations, download and data integrity check, with PipeWay Caliper Software

 Sensors, Electronic and Battery Housing Pressure Test: Electronic Housing and Battery
Housing are introduced inside a pressure chamber and submitted to the operational pipeline
pressure and the run time period plus contingency. Seal and Mechanical Integrity are tested.
The Caliper sensors are introduced inside a pressure chamber with salt water and submitted
to the desired pressure (operation pressure + contingency) and low temperature (8ºC
approximate) for a time period of the Pig Run plus contingency. Seal and Sensors function
are checked, and a test report is generated

 Pig Backload + Movement on Vertical Position: To test the Conical Cups back movement
function, the Caliper Pig is back loaded inside a sample pipe with the same characteristics
of the PRL. See Fig. 4 for an example of a conical cup design failure during back load test
(design was reviewed and retested successfully). The pipe then could be brought to vertical
position and kept for a time period to verify if the Caliper original position. Caliper vertical
movement should be avoid to prevent a premature launch with the cleaning pigs.

 Final Function Test and Certificates: PipeWay standard form test is filled in order to verify
mechanical visual check, sensor function and caliper configuration in accordance with the
project requirements. Certificates are generated for each test.

Figure 4 – Example of a Back Load test with a conical Cup failure.

4.1.3 Calibration and Assembly

Seniors engineers and technicians are involved in the calibration and assembly process,
following PipeWay quality procedures.

4.1.4 Mobilization

Due to the high costs of an offshore hour (vessel), main spare parts are mobilized with
the Caliper as Recorder + Batteries housing, Sensors Set assembled in their flanges, Odometers
Set, Cables, Cup and etc. Almost a second pig without the steel body.
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4.2. Operational Phase

4.2.1 Inspection

The inspection process is implemented in accordance with the predetermined

operational conditions.

 Preparations before the Operation with the Caliper Pig: In order to clean the pipeline and to
prevent any debris and/or malfunction that could damage the tool, endangering the whole
process of inspection and/or hindering the further inspection data analysis, a train of
cleaning pigs is launched. Generally off brush pigs and a gauge plate pig on front of the
Caliper which will clean and prevent that any debris which can mask the caliper readings.
Also the Caliper Pig is not able to pass through a restriction non uniform greater than 25%
of the diameter OD, so the client must certify that the line do not have any restriction close
to this limit to avoid a stuck pig.

 Caliper Pig Operation: To launch and receive the Caliper Pig a PLR, Pig Launcher and
Receiver equipment is used, as figure 3. The Caliper Pig is introduced, among cleaning Pigs
and gauge plate pig, which will be launched in accordance to client procedure. All valve
maneuvers, Pigs Bi-Directional and calculations for a safe distance between the Pigs,
including Caliper, is implemented and it is a responsibility of the client. The Caliper Pig
loading and Removal is executed by a canister attached to the PLR hub and tubes to push
equipment backwards, using also other equipment such as chain block or a hydraulic and a
pulley system, into move the Pig to the end of the PLR. See figure 5. After introduction of
the pig into the PLR, client operating procedures is performed, for the coupling off the line
to be inspected, who could be located approximately 2000 meters deep, and then other
procedures in sequence to launch and receive the Pig, remotely operated by ROVs. The
train of Pigs are received in a PRL in the end of the pipeline, then and brought back to the
vessel deck, and unloaded backwards (cleaning and caliper), see figure 6.

Figure 5 and 6 – Examples of a Caliper Pig Offshore Back Load and Unloa.

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Event Report Criteria:

 Ovality greater than 5% (difference between the largest and smallest external
diameters measured in any pipe section) in any extension;

 Dents, with any extension, which produces reductions in diameter higher than those
defined below:
 2% of the diameter, for pipe with nominal diameter greater than 12 ";
 0.25 inches, for pipe nominal diameter of 12" or smaller;
 Diameter reductions of any dimension, which are stress concentrators, such as notches,
punching, gouges and scratches;
 Diameter reductions of any extension in weld.

Reports Type and Timing:

 Field Report: 24 hours after transfer of caliper (Quality of data recorded by the pig
 Preliminary Report: 5 working days after run validation
 Final Report: 45 working days after the data arrives at Pipeway analysis.

5. PipeWay Caliper Offshore Inspection Experience, Cases Of Study And Lessons


PipeWay inspected 12 offshore pipelines in construction, from 10” up to 20”, from 2011
to 2019 in Brazil:

(Pipeline#, DN, Extension, Caliper Pressure Tested, Run Time Duration, Run Date)

 Pipeline-1: 12”, 15km, 200Kg/cm2, 27.3h, feb2010

 Pipeline-2: 12”, 14.5Km, 200Kg/cm2, 17.9h, Mar2010
 Pipeline-3: 12”, 13Km, 200Kg/cm2, 24.8h, Dec2010
 Pipeline-4: 12”, 13Km, 200Kg/cm2, 98.3h, Dec2010
 Pipeline-5: 10”, 9Km, 200kg/cm2, 33h, Jan2011
 Pipeline-6: 18”, 151Km, 75-310Kg/cm2, 3607.6h, Apr2012.
 Pipeline-7: 18”, 51Km, 300Kg/cm2, 270.3h, Jul2013 (Pre-Salt Area).
 Pipeline-8: 18”, 22Km, 300Kg/cm2, 51h, Sep2013 (Pre-Salt Area).
 Pipeline-9: 18”, 19Km, 300Kg/cm2, 125h, May2014 (Pre-Salt Area).
 Pipeline-10: 20”, 5.5km, 300Kg/cm2, 286.2h, Jul2015 (Pre-Salt Area).
 Pipeline-11: 18”, 15.5km, 300Kg/cm2, 176.9h, Aug2015 (Pre-Salt Area).
 Pipeline-12: 18”, 7.9km, 10Kg/cm2, 81h, May2019.

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5.1 Case Study Pipeline-6: Extreme Tool Autonomy

Pipeline + Operational Characteristics:


 Depth: 87m
 Extension: 151km
 Pressure 262,5 Kgf/cm² (27Kg during the commission, +262Kg as re-run during TH
 WT: 0,75”/ 0,688”
 Operation Speed: 0.2m/s e 1.0m/s
 Pump Fluid: Sea Water
 Pig Loading: Back-loading on a PLR
 Pig Extension: 2000mm (according to the PLR and Pigs Train Length)
 Pig Autonomy: 125days Autonomy
o 120 days in Stand-By (OFF)
o 120 hours Run Autonomy (ON)

Operation Base case: Caliper loaded in the PLR onshore, with 120 days in stand-by
mode. PLR (with Pigs) and Pipeline laid in seabed/ offshore. 120days after the pipeline
end connection, Caliper was launched for a 60h run.

Tests Highlights:

 Electronics + Turn-ON system tested in 14 days. Cycle tests with 48 turn-on events
to check turn-on device, Supply Current, autonomy and electronic function.
 Sensors: 2h@75Bar Salt Water – Ambient Temperature (~30oC - Rio de Janeiro)
 Sensors Spare: @310bar Salt Water – Ambient Temperature (~30oC - Rio de
 Battery and Electronics Housing: 24h@310bar – Ambient Temperature (~30oC -
Rio de Janeiro)

Operation Highlights:

 Caliper turned on: 16/nov/11

 Tool Autonomy: 15/mar/12 (120 days)
 Pipeline Construction delayed
 Caliper launched: 13/apr/2012 (150days)
 Caliper Received: 15/04/2012 (152days) - ON
 Caliper Inspection approved

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5.2 Case Study Pipeline-10 – High Pressure and Turn-On in a Specific Position.

Pipeline + Operational Characteristics:


 Depth: ~2,200m
 Extension: 5,5km
 Pressure ~250Bara (~230Bara during the commission)
 WT: 1.200”
 Operation Speed: 0.2m/s e 1.0m/s
 Pump Fluid: Sea Water
 Pig Loading Back-loading on a PLR – Vessel deck.
 Pig Extension: 2000mm (according to the PLR and Pigs Train Length)
 Pig Autonomy: 30days Autonomy
o 30 days in Stand-By (OFF)
o 90 hours Run Autonomy (ON)

Operation Base case: Caliper loaded in the PLR offshore, on the vessel deck.
Approximate 10h run with 230Bar sea water pressure. The Caliper Pig will be loaded
with a train of cleaning Pigs, PRL connected to pipe in Vertical Position. Caliper should
turn-on at the PIG Stopper to avoid a premature pig turn-on, if the pigs moves during
the cleaning pigs launching due weight and differentials pressures (polyurethane discs
was added in to the caliper to increase friction). The Caliper Pig is fitted with sealing
disks in order to avoid movement inside the PLR during deployment and installation, as
well as during the launch of other pigs.

Tests Highlights:

 Electronics + Turn-ON system tested in 3 days. Cycle tests with turn-on events to
check turn-on device in the position requested, Supply Current, autonomy and
electronic function.
 Sensors: 72h@300Bar Salt Water – Low Temperature ( approximate 8oC)
 Battery and Electronics Housing: 72h@300bar – Low Temperature ( approximate
 Back Load and Vertical Movement test. Pig loaded in a pipe section with same PRL
dimensions to test conical cups function and caliper movement in vertical position.

Operation Highlights:

 Caliper turned on: 02/jul/15

 Caliper Autonomy: 04/aug/15
 Caliper launched: 14/jul/15
o 13 days stand-by at 225 Bar in Sea Water
 Caliper Received: 14/jul/15 (13 days) - ON
 Caliper inspection approved

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6.0. New Challenges for Caliper Offshore Construction Inspection

Recently new challenges for pre-commissioning pipeline inspection were requested and
PipeWay has solutions for then:

 Higher Pressures, up to 699bar (10140 PSI): considering the Caliper Pig inside the
pipeline during Pressure Test to minimize operational costs. The tool must support
the condition.
 Wrinkle detection: Caliper Pig should detect wrinkles as a Caliper PIG’s
Requirements (I-ET-0000.00-0000-295-P9U-001), a direct contact sensor tool were
selected to detect and size the wrinkles.
 Significant ID transitions: uniform reductions of 36% of Internal Diameter were
requested, for small dimeters pipes. Standard tools could not deal with such ID
transition. A tool who could deal with this reductions were selected.

7.0. Conclusion

PipeWay has been inspecting pipelines under construction since 1998, and its Caliper
tools was successfully adapted for the deep water inspection with extreme environment. In the
last years, challenges were overcome, lessons were learned and customers perceived PipeWay
as a reference in Caliper inspection offshore.

9. References


Rev.H, ABR/2008, Petrobras.
CALIPER PIG´S ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA, I-ET-0000.00-6500-295-PPS-001, Petrobras
Operational Procedure Caliper Pig (Caliper Offshore), PipeWay