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Olympus releases industrial instrumentation for oil and gas pipelines

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article image The lightweight iPLEX RX videoscope from Olympus

The use of pipelines for production and distribution is widespread in several industries. For instance, pipelines in the oil and gas industry are used as gathering systems joining wells to process facilities, and also as distribution systems delivering products to refineries and markets. Pipelines vary from simple steel tubes to state-of-the-art spiral-wound, flexible lines, with diameters ranging from 50 millimetres to two metres.

Oil and gas pipelines are installed in onshore as well as offshore locations by welding together lengths of pipe and laying them at the desired location. Whether buried or exposed, all pipelines are exposed to a range of physical, climatic and chemical environments that can cause corrosion. The economic impact of all types of corrosion and the resultant degradation of infrastructure such as pipelines, oil rigs and towers, represent an annual cost of many millions of dollars to the industry.

Internal pipe maintenance and cleaning is usually conducted by sending a scrubbing device or 'pig' through the pipeline at regular intervals. Sophisticated pigs fitted with cameras and sensors can also inspect the integrity of welds and the internal condition of the pipe.

Olympus offers an extensive range of inspection and measurement systems, many of which have been developed by the company specifically to simplify the inspection of corrosion in pipes and vessels. The company had recently displayed and demonstrated part of its inspection, non-destructive testing (NDT) and measurement instrument range at the 2015 Australasian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference (AOG) in Perth.

NDT refers to any analysis technique that can assess the properties of materials or components without causing damage or permanently altering the article being inspected, saving both money and time. Olympus has been developing RVI technology for many years and expanding its application to a range of markets. It has become a critical technique within the oil and gas industry to minimise confined space entry as well as enable viewing of small areas previously not accessible.

Colm Kinsella, Industrial Sales Specialist with Olympus explains that the range of analysis, testing and imaging instrumentation featured at AOG this year illustrates the company’s commitment to the development of new technologies for maintaining pipelines, and related oil and gas infrastructure.

Pipeline maintenance is conventionally based on scheduled inspections at set intervals, but typically results in unnecessary shutdowns of plant or production lines. Implementation of risk-based assessment, where the statistical likelihood of a problem occurring is determined, allows the inspection intervals to be amended in accordance with operating conditions and parameters.

Inspection to determine the internal condition of equipment is deemed non-intrusive if there is no requirement to remove a component or open the equipment; this can also help companies avoid costly plant shutdowns. Inspections are conducted using the NDT methods of Ultrasonic Testing (UT), including ultrasonic corrosion mapping, Radiographic Testing (RT) and Time of Flight Diffraction ultrasonics (ToFD).

Olympus’ new Dual Linear Array (DLA) probe for corrosion inspection offers many advantages over conventional ultrasonic dual element transducers. The DLA solution improves productivity through features such as larger beam coverage, faster scan speed, and C-scan imaging with increased data-point density. The pitch-catch technique used by the DLA probe provides better near-surface resolution and pit detection in corrosion survey applications.

The Dual Linear Array probe adds a new low-cost entry-level inspection capability to the company's existing HydroFORM and RexoFORM corrosion solutions, especially when combined with the OmniScan SX.

The growing trend of overseas fabrication and component sourcing has increased the use of X-Ray fluorescence analysis as part of QC/QA programmes in Australia. One example is the high demand for Positive Material Identification (PMI) at dock receiving bays using the Olympus Delta Professional handheld XRF analyser.

The RollerFORM phased array wheel probe is another tool that can be combined with an OmniScan SX to inspect structures such as pipelines and complex steel structures including rigs and towers. The probe uses zero-degree ultrasonic beams for manufacturing and maintenance inspections. The unique tyre material of the RollerFORM has been designed to guarantee high-quality, immersion-like ultrasonic testing in a durable, handheld instrument.

Olympus’ Nortec 600 is a compact, durable unit that is ideal for industrial quality assurance in construction, oil and gas production and exploration. Featuring a rugged housing to suit a wide range of harsh operating environments, the Nortec 600 can be used to identify surface cracks under paint and is critical for any loadbearing structure from cranes and gantries to offshore rigs.

The iPLEX RX videoscope is one of the lightest and most compact videoscopes available, and is an invaluable tool for inspectors seeking superb image reproduction in difficult applications and locations with limited operator access.

According to Graham Maxwell, National Key Accounts & Technical Manager at Olympus, their AOG experience was fruitful with attendees very knowledgeable about inspection, testing and measurement technologies. 

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