Everyone knows that pigs will eat anything—that’s why farmers feed them slop. Pipeline pigs are no different, except that they don’t have cute, curly tails—they will clean up anything in their path.
Pipeline pigging is a common approach that oil and gas companies use to ensure that pipelines are functioning properly. Companies often need to “pig their pipelines” to clean out built-up debris along the line and ensure the line is running smoothly. It’s an important part of maintaining the integrity of the pipeline, which the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) requires in order to keep pipeline operations going.
“Ultimately it’s the responsibility of the company who owns the pipelines to keep them safe. Our role as the regulator is to make sure that they have plans in place to care for their pipelines and that they are following these plans,” says Dave Grzyb, a pipeline specialist with the AER.
What’s in a name
The origin of the term pig is a bit of an urban legend in the oil and gas industry. There are many stories that tell the history of pipeline pigs, but none can truly be authenticated.
Early versions of pigs were bundles of straw wrapped with wire that were forced into the pipeline and resulted in a squealing sound, hence the moniker. Other versions were rags wrapped in leather that came from pig hides.
Regardless of where they get their name, pigs play an integral role in caring for pipelines and helping to reduce pipeline incidents. While the AER doesn’t specify when or how frequently companies should pig their lines, many companies do it on a frequent, even as often as weekly, basis as part of their regular maintenance.
In addition to cleaning pipelines, there are electronic pigs that can be used to inspect the lines—that’s right, smart pigs. These inspection pigs take measurements and collect data about the condition of the pipelines. They look for things like corrosion, cracks and dents, or any misshapen parts of the line.
“Inspection pigs give a tremendous amount of useful data. It’s very important for companies to understand the extent of corrosion inside their pipelines to determine whether they need to be repaired,” says Grzyb.
Inspecting pipelines is a proactive way to detect any issues that could lead to an incident. Identifying potential problems early is the best way to help prevent pipeline incidents and protect what matters most to Albertans.
Leaving a comment? You should know this:
Add new comment
Fellow humans ...
Perhaps in our life time crude oil a product of nature & mother time like coal,
can both be left underground like money in the bank for old age ...and never used :
as battery powered cars and trucks charged up by sunlight or hydro electric power
will reduce demand for crude oil and its by products so that we do not need to further
dig out drill for these 2 gifts from mother nature that were there when we needed
them. Now mankind has realized that climate change happened on our watch and
fossil fuels are MEA CULPA !!
On a larger scale if we could convince President Donald Trump 1st that the earth is round
and not flat !.... then we might be able to convince and make him believe that global
warming and climate change are one and the same !
The wild fire (s) in California / Hurricanes one after another happen now for a reason .
It's is the laws of physics / fluid dynamics / thermal heat transer that can be
put down for all to read that explain Global Warming , as President Gore spoke so well about .
Itseems as if it is not in writing ... it never happened !
Dear Mother Nature has to now let the global warming "Genie " mankind released from the bottle
play havoc with our lives until a new balance if found somehow ?
Six billion humans stand to perish or survive in the outcome ! Will we on earth ; this space ship with 6 billion passengers and no captain as
Werner von Braun put it ... (when the world population was only 4 billion) ??
I don't sleep good at night anymore : thinking of things ! But I pray for mankind
and POTUS .. if not Donald Trump !
Sincerely Terry Hendrickson , The Pas , MB , CDN .. third rock from the Sun !
Hi is there an area that talks about how to store pipeline pigs ? Like to store them in bins when not in use . Thank you.
Electric cars...except the cobalt and other raw materials are an environmental and social issue. Oil isn't the best, nor the most environmentally friendly, but neither are the alternatives, and in some cases worse. Child labour and environmental damage that is beyond anything Alberta is doing.