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Proceedings Paper

Thermographic identification of wetted insulation on pipelines in the arctic oilfields
Author(s): Jonathan J. Miles; A L. Dahlquist; L. C. Dash
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Paper Abstract

Steel pipes used at Alaskan oil-producing facilities to transport production crude, gas, and injection water between well house and drill site manifold building, and along cross-country lines to and from central processing facilities, must be insulated in order to protect against the severely cold temperatures that are common during the arctic winter. A problem inherent with this system is that the sealed joints between adjacent layers of the outer wrap will over time degrade and can allow water to breach the system and migrate into and through the insulation. The moisture can ultimately interact with the steel pipe and trigger external corrosion which, if left unchecked, can lead to pipe failure and spillage. A New Technology Evaluation Guideline prepared for ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. in 2001 is intended to guide the consideration of new technologies for pipeline inspection in a manner that is safer, faster, and more cost-effective than existing techniques. Infrared thermography (IRT) was identified as promising for identification of wetted insulation regions given that it offers the means to scan a large area quickly from a safe distance, and measure the temperature field associated with that area. However, it was also recognized that there are limiting factors associated with an IRT-based approach including instrument sensitivity, cost, portability, functionality in hostile (arctic) environments, and training required for proper interpretation of data. A methodology was developed and tested in the field that provides a technique to conduct large-scale screening for wetted regions along insulated pipelines. The results of predictive modeling analysis and testing demonstrate the feasibility under certain condition of identifying wetted insulation areas. The results of the study and recommendations for implementation are described.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 April 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6205, Thermosense XXVIII, 62051H (18 April 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.669966
Show Author Affiliations
Jonathan J. Miles, James Madison Univ. (United States)
A L. Dahlquist, ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. (United States)
L. C. Dash, ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6205:
Thermosense XXVIII
Jonathan J. Miles; G. Raymond Peacock; Kathryn M. Knettel, Editor(s)

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