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Performance Characteristics of Current ILI Technologies for Mechanical Damage Detection
PRCI and our research partners Blade Energy Partners and PHMSA recently completed a comprehensive assessment of the performance capabilities of current in-line inspection (ILI) technologies to detect and characterize Mechanical Damage to operating pipeline systems. The project provided a comprehensive and in-depth review of the current status of ILI technologies including, but not limited to, Magnetic (Axial MFL, Circumferential MFL), Ultrasonic (UT), and Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducers (EMATs), and Geometrical (Caliper) methods in terms of their capabilities, limitations and potentials in detection, discrimination and characterization of various forms of Mechanical Damage. Assessment was completed for dents, dents with corrosion, and dents with cracks and gouges. The execution of this research reflected a collaborative effort between the ILI vendor community and pipeline operators to integrate field data with the data provided by ILI tools such as caliper, MFL and other mechanical damage tools and technologies. The project consisted of two separate phases of work, with Phase 1 focusing on information provided by ILI technology vendors, and Phase 2 providing further validation of ILI technology performance using ILI data and field inspection data provided by PRCI’s member companies that manage operating pipeline systems.
As a result of this research, improvements to in-ditch protocols for both measurement methods and data attributes were identified and recommendations are presented for future research in order to improve understanding of mechanical damage tool performance. PRCI is implementing research projects to address the gaps identified in the report as a continuation of its research program on mechanical damage and implementation of the PRCI Mechanical Damage Research Roadmap.