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После засыпки трубопровод проходит гидростатические испытания согласно нормам. На самом деле, испытание трубопроводов это больше, чем просто выявление утечки и проверка сопротивления. Испытания трубопроводов проводятся даже при отсутствии соответствующих предписаний. Цели таких испытаний различны:

- удалить все загрязнения изнутри;

- проверить, чтобы не было никаких закупорок или уменьшения диаметра трубопровода;

- убедиться, что трубопровод не поднимается под давлением из-под земли (эффект Бурдона);

- убедиться, что траншея выдерживает дополнительный вес воды, используемой при испытании;

- проверить с максимальной тщательностью наличие утечек;

- проверить сопротивление, убедиться в прочности трубы и сварного шва;

- полностью удалить испытательную воду (даже из небольшого участка под

пересечением реки);

- очистить и осушить (в основном для газопроводов) внутреннюю поверхность трубопровода, прежде чем заказчик пустит через него дорогостоящий продукт;

- закрыть трубопровод с обоих концов, чтобы исключить попадание посторонних материалов и воды.

- избежать коррозии;

- избежать загрязнения окружающей среды большими объемами ржавой

воды, использованной при испытаниях.


This section is about the inspection of high pressure cross country pipelines.

Installing a pipeline is much like an assembly line process, with sections of the pipeline being

completed in stages performed by different crews.

The construction process is “linear”, i.e. each operation follows the previous one without any

overlapping possibility. Alike for mass production in a factory, each operation is assigned to a

specialised crew or “spread” with specific equipment; everything is done so that the

construction proceeds smoothly without interference between the spreads. No need to say that

there is a lot of pressure on all the participants, including the inspectors.

For large constructions, there will be many inspectors, specialised each in a specific

discipline; civil work, welding, coating, … But very often a same inspector will have to check

all ongoing operations, requiring from him many various skills.

Cross country pipe laying spreads the operations over long distances; there might be a

hundred kilometres of rough track between the ROW gang and the backfilling. This is to be

considered when planning pipeline inspection.

Various types of pipelines

Pipelines vary mostly by the material they are built from; steel, cast iron, cement,


Indeed, the material dictates for instance:

- the diameter and pressure,

- the weight and the length of the components to be joined

- how to make curves and take-offs,

- the trench preparation,

- the lowering-in technique,

- the backfilling,

- the anti-corrosion system,

- the testing.

Obviously, the environment will dictate the material:

- high pressure + big diameter will require steel,

- low pressure + big diameter will be concrete of cast iron,

- Small diameters can be any of those and also accept polyethylene (HDPE) and ABS.

This guideline deals with welded steel pipelines for the long distance transportation of :

- liquid hydrocarbons such as crude oil or refined products (diesel, gasoline, jet fuel,…),

- gaseous hydrocarbons such as natural gas (methane) or refined products (ethylene,

propane, etc…)

- water (drinking, raw or sea)

- slurry (a mixture of water and coal or ore powder)

Pipeline Components

A pipeline is not just an assembly of pipe joints welded together. It is a system that constitute

a functional transportation system, like a road or railway network.

Many fittings, accessories and facilities are installed on a line for the operations of this

transportation equipment:

- flanges, bolts, gaskets, casings,

- valves, vents, relief devices,

- thrust blocks

- cleaning facilities: scrapper traps or pig traps,

- metering stations,

- compressor or pumping stations

- cathodic protection, insulating joints,

- line markers,

- monitoring and metering stations


Pipelines can measure anywhere from 6 to 60 inches in diameter, although certain component pipe sections can consist of small diameter pipe, as small as 0.5 inches in diameter. However, this small diameter pipe is usually used only in gathering and distribution systems.

Mainline pipes, the principle pipeline in a given system, are usually between 16 and 48 inches in diameter. Lateral pipelines, which deliver product to or from the mainline, are typically between 6 and 16 inches in diameter. Most major interstate pipelines are between 24 and 36 inches in diameter. Pipelines are produced in steel mills, which are sometimes specialized to produce only

pipeline. There are two different production techniques, one for small diameter pipes and one

for large diameter pipes. For large diameter pipes, from 20 to 60 inches in diameter, the pipes

are produced from sheets of metal which are folded or rolled (spiral) into a tube shape, with

the ends welded together to form a pipe section. Small diameter pipe, on the other hand, can

be produced seamlessly. This involves heating a metal bar to very high temperatures, then

punching a hole through the middle of the bar to produce a hollow tube. In either case, the

pipe is 100% tested before being shipped from the steel mill, to ensure that it can meet the

pressure and strength standards for transporting natural gas. Line pipe is also covered with a specialized coating to ensure that it does not corrode once placed in the ground. The purpose of the coating is to protect the pipe from moisture, which causes corrosion and rusting. Coating can also be applied on the inside of the pipes to protect them against corrosion and to reduce the friction loss. There are a number of different coating techniques. In the past, pipelines were coated with a specialized coal tar enamel. Today, pipes are often protected with what is known as a fusion bond epoxy, which gives the pipe a noticeable light blue colour.

In addition, as the coating is never totally perfect and will deteriorate with time, cathodic

protection is often used. This is a technique of running an electric current through the pipe to

ward off corrosion and rusting.


International pipelines include a great number of valves along their entire length. These valves work like gateways; they are usually open and allow the product to flow freely, or they can be used to stop the flow along a certain section of pipe. There are many reasons why a pipeline may need to restrict flow in certain areas. For example, if a section of pipe requires replacement or maintenance, valves on either end of that section of pipe can be closed to allow engineers and work crews safe access. Some valves are equipped with actuator that can be triggered by a sudden drop of pressure resulting from a major leak. These large valves can be placed every 10 to 30 km along the pipeline, and are subject to regulation by safety codes.

Compressor and Pumping Stations

To ensure that the fluid flowing through any one pipeline remains pressurized, compression

(for gas) or pumping (for liquids) is required periodically along the pipe. This is

accomplished by stations, usually placed at 40 to 100 km intervals along the pipeline.

On gas pipelines, turbine compressors gain their energy by using up a small proportion of the

natural gas that they compress. The turbine itself serves to operate a centrifugal compressor

that compresses and pumps the natural gas through the pipeline. Some compressor stations are

operated by using an electric motor to turn the same type of centrifugal compressor/pump.

This type of compression does not require the use of any of the natural gas from the pipe,

however it does require a reliable source of electricity nearby. Reciprocating natural gas

engines are also used to power some compressor stations. On gas pipelines, in addition to compressing natural gas, compressor stations also usually contain some type of liquid separator, much like the ones used to dehydrate natural gas during its processing. Usually, these separators consist of scrubbers and filters that capture any liquids or other undesirable particles (rust for instance) from the natural gas in the pipeline. Although natural gas in pipelines is considered ‘dry’ gas, it is not uncommon for a certain amount of water and hydrocarbons to condense out of the gas stream while in transit. The liquid separators at compressor stations ensure that the natural gas in the pipeline is as pure as possible, and usually filters the gas prior to compression.

Metering Stations

Metering stations are placed at take offs and at the boundary between states. These stations

allow pipeline companies to monitor and manage the products in their pipes. Essentially, these

metering stations measure the flow of product along the pipeline, and allow pipeline

companies to ‘track’ the product as it flows along the pipeline. These metering stations

employ specialized flow meters to measure the product as it flows through the pipeline,

without impeding its movement. Metering stations may be controlled by the state authorities for fiscal duties purpose.

What to look for?

This section describes briefly each pipeline construction step and for each one gives

indications for its inspection.


As for any other inspection, the inspector uses the approved design and specifications as a

reference for his inspection. Non conformities may only be raised against these requirements.

Before starting any inspection it is important to examine carefully all the requirements of the

design and verify that the contractor uses the last revision of these documents.

Among the many drawings issued for a pipeline construction, a special attention shall be

brought to the typical drawings.

The yards

Pipeline construction starts from the yards. This is where the construction equipment and the

pipes arrive, are stored and sometimes prefabricated and from where they are distributed.

Pre-construction survey

Before construction begins, surveyors check for environmental features along proposed

pipeline segments. Utility lines and agricultural drainages are located and marked to prevent

accidental damage during pipeline construction. This is done not only on the pipeline route

but also on all the site accesses and any other working area.

Surveying and stacking the right-of-way (ROW)

The right-of-way is a narrow strip of land that contains the pipeline(s) and is where all

construction activities occur. Prior to any construction, it is surveyed, cleared of brush and

trees, and levelled to give workers and equipment access to build, inspect and maintain the

pipeline. The route is surveyed and the proposed centreline staked. The outer boundaries of the

construction corridor are staked also (stacks have different colours, typically with a 50m

spacing). The proposed centreline of the pipeline is not in the centre of the construction right-

of-way, but offset to one side. The overburden (excavated material) will be placed on the narrow side of the construction corridor. On the wider side, there is room for two vehicles to pass and a work area for laying and welding the pipe. Depending the type of terrain crossed by the pipeline, the ROW does not have the same width along all the route. The width also largely depends on the diameter of the pipe, as this diameter conditions the size of the construction equipment. Typical widths are from 6m for a 3” pipeline to 20m for a 24” line. At the end of the construction, a narrow band of the ROW may be kept for the maintenance of the pipeline. This is generally not the case in valuable agricultural land.

Right-of-way Preparation

Temporary Fence installation

A fencing crew follows the staked centreline of the pipeline, and installs temporary gates and

fencing where the right-of-way crosses a landowner’s fence. Prior to cutting a fence, it should

be braced at the boundaries of the construction corridor for a minimum width that would

allow construction equipment to pass prior. The bracing allows a fence to be cut and still

maintain integrity of the overall fence. Temporary gates are installed across the width of the

construction right-of-way to allow the ditch to be excavated, as well as provide room for the

pipe and construction equipment to pass.

Timber Clearing

The right-of-way crew clears the right-of-way of all shrubs and trees. Smaller timber are

properly disposed of or cut and stacked on the right-of-way for use by the landowner for

firewood, if appropriate. Special attention is brought to merchantable timber if this has not

been taken care of by the landowner prior the construction begins.

Clearing and grading

After temporary fencing and timber clearing have been accomplished, a crew removes

stumps, shrubs, topsoil and small trees. When the work is done along a hillside, the topsoil

should normally be placed on the uphill side to prevent mixing with other excavated material

during later stages of construction. The right-of-way is then be levelled to allow construction

equipment room to work. In areas along the sides of hills (“side hilling”), two levels may be

necessary. One level would contain the ditch and material removed from it. The second level

would accommodate the pipe fabrication area, as well as construction equipment and passing

lanes. This technique reduces the amount of material that must be displaced during the

temporary construction phase of the work. Access points to the site require a special attention as a lot of heavy equipment will use this passage. Damage to the public road network should be avoided as well, many small country roads or tracks being not used to see so much traffic.


After the construction zone is cleared and levelled, trenching machines begin digging the

trench where the pipeline will be buried. In agricultural areas and before trenching, the

topsoil is removed from the work area and stockpiled separately. This is generally part of the

ROW preparation. Materials removed from the ditch would normally be placed adjacent to

the topsoil pile or on the opposite side of the ROW, depending the availability of space.

The depth of the trench can vary, the minimum cover being defined by the regulation (for

hydrocarbon pipelines at least) or the owner’s specifications. The total depth of a trench

depends on:

- the diameter of the pipe,

- the minimum cover required by the regulation (typically 0.8m),

- additional cover required in special locations (road, river, railway crossings) to protect

the pipeline,

- increased depth to accommodate soft backfill before the pipe is laid (in rocky soil),

- to decrease slope on top of hills.

Pipeline layouts will define for each location the minimum design depth of the trench.

The most effective and economical solution is to use a trenching machine. A trenching

machine is capable of cutting through all types of soils except areas that have very large

boulders or rocks. It cuts the trench and side casts the soil. Track-mounted excavators are normally be used to dig the ditch in hilly or mountainous terrain. Extra ditch depth is dug to ease the transition of the pipeline at the bottoms and tops of hills, at water crossings, road crossings and railroad crossings. This requires additional temporary right-of-way width to accommodate the extra material excavated for the ditch. Trenching machines equipped with special blades are also capable of trenching through soft rock. Other equipment called rock saws can cut through rock to the desired depth. Only in rare occasions would blasting be used to trench through rock. If blasting is required, the charges are shaped to limit the amount of outward explosion. To limit the amount of debris spread, heavy mats can be placed over the charges. Special crushers are used to transform the rocks in coarse sand that can be used to prepare the bottom of the trench and the backfill material in contact with the pipe.

Pipe hauling and stringing

Once the pipeline’s path has been cleared sufficiently to allow construction equipment to gain access, sections of pipes are laid out along the right-of-way, ready for welding, a process called ‘stringing’. The pipe sections are commonly 12m or 24m long. The 24m long sections are made at the yard by welding together two 12m standard section; this is called double-joining. The joints made at the yard may be coated at the yard or left as such for subsequent coating with the line joints. Pipes are specific to their destination and the hauling contractor uses the pipeline layout drawings to string the right pipes at the right place. Indeed, certain areas have different

requirements for coating material, pipe thickness and even pipe material and diameter.

Pre-coated pipe joints are hauled to the right-of-way on stringing trucks. The pipe are

unloaded from the trucks with a side-boom tractor or the crane mounted on the truck and

placed end-to-end alongside the ditch so they are accessible to construction personnel.

Pipe stringing may occur concurrently with trenching. In some cases, pipe stringing may

occur ahead of the trenching, but it normally follows the trenching crew (to avoid damages to

the pipe by the heavy earth moving equipment). In cases where the trench is to remain open for extended periods (over night or longer) it is sometimes barricaded to reduce any safety hazard.

Where water and road crossings are to be accomplished, the appropriate pipes are stockpiled

on one or both sides of the crossing so they are to the construction crews that would follow.

Depending on access and terrain, the trucks off-load the pipe and then turn around and return

to the pipe lay-down area. In cases where there is a narrow construction corridor, the trucks

have to make a continuous loop by driving a significant distance up the corridor, then off-load

the pipe and follow the corridor a significant distance to exit the corridor.

Bending the pipe

A pipeline must cross over hills and curve around special places. A hydraulic pipe-bending

machine bends individual joints of pipe to the desired angle at locations where there are

significant changes in the natural ground contours or where the pipeline route changes

direction. The pipes to be bent, the location of the centre of the bend on the pipe joint and the

angle are defined by the surveyor after stringing. Bending data are marked on the pipe joints.

The bending is limited to making many small bends along the length of a pipe joint until the

desired bend angle is obtained. Doing so, the pipe retains its strength and remains circular

where it is bent because of the characteristics of steel and the bending techniques used.

The bending technique should be qualified before production (maximum angular deviation for

each stroke, distance between strokes, distance from the ends of the pipe, for each

diameter/thickness, material).


After the stringing and bending are complete, the pipe sections are aligned, welded together,

and placed on temporary supports along the edge of the trench, waiting for NDT and lowering

in. This step is repeated a number of times until multiple pipe joints are joined to form a pipeline

section which will be lowered in in one shot. Such sections may be as long as 2 km or more in

clear areas. Automatic welding machines (external and internal) are used where possible and some hand welding also takes place, generally for repairs and special points. As for mass production on an assembly line, the various welding phases are performed by specialized crews, having each their specific equipment. The purpose of this organization is to produce as many welds per day as possible (expensive operation). The equipment and staffing of the welding spread depends on the diameter, thickness and welding procedure. A typical set-up looks like the following: the pipe gang follows the pipe stringing and bending crews. The pipe gang uses one or two side booms to set the pipe up on wooden frames (skids) to support the pipe off the ground and line up the pipe with the contour of the trench. Pipe ends are aligned and clamped in place,

using an internal pneumatic clamp or an external mechanical one. Once the pipe is fixed and proper alignment has been achieved, two welders perform the first pass (root pass). Immediately after the first pass, the next group of welders applies the second bead or hot pass. The hot passers can number anywhere from 2 to 4 welders with their helpers. The completion of the root pass (1st pass) and the hot pass (2nd pass) is the primary function of the pipe gang. Production from the pipe gang is expected to be 500m to 2000m per day, depending on weather and terrain. The firing crew is the largest crew, and consists of 8 to 12 welders using welding machines mounted on pickup trucks. The welding crews follow and place the remainder of the weld material into the joint, including the final “cap” weld. When completed there are a total of four or five layers of welds on the pipe joint. All welders that work on a joint have unique identifying codes. The codes are marked on the area adjacent to the pipe so complete records of the welding are maintained.

Joint Coating

Line pipe, normally mill-coated or yard-coated prior to stringing, requires a coating at the

welded joints and at areas damaged by handling operations. After the welds have been X-rayed, the coating crew cleans the exposed steel at the joint between the pipes and applies a protective coating to it. The coating is commonly a heat-shrinkable polyethylene wrapped around the pipe. Heat is applied to the coating material to shrink it around the joint and form a tight, impervious

covering on the joint. After the coatings have been placed, an inspection crew checks the entire pipeline for nicks and abrasions in the coating with a high-voltage testing device, the holiday detector. The High Voltage Detection Technique locates flaws in insulating coatings on conductive substrates. A power supply within the instrument generates a high DC Voltage which is supplied to a suitable probe. An earth voltage return lead from the instrument is connected to

an uncoated area of the metal of the test substrate. As the probe is passed over the coated surface, a flaw is indicated by a spark at the contact point with an audible alarm in the detector and a visual alarm in the probe handle. The probe can have the shape of a brush or a spring that surrounds the pipe and is rolled all along the line.

Lowering in the pipe

Once the pipe is welded, bent and coated it can be lowered into the previously dug trench.

This is done with specialized construction equipment acting in tandem to lift the pipe

relatively uniformly and lower it into the trench. Care is taken to avoid damaging the pipe and

its exterior coating. The pipe is lowered off the skids into the ditch by a team of several side-boom tractors. All rocks are removed from the bottom of the ditch prior to the lowering operation. In any areas of rocky terrain, sand-filled bags would be placed in the bottom of the ditch to protect the pipe and coating from damage from rocks. After the pipe is laid in the trench, the wooden skids are picked up and moved ahead to reuse.

Backfilling the trench

Before testing the pipeline, the ditch is backfilled. Sometimes the excavated soil is used to fill

the trench and sometimes other selected backfill is used. The trench is backfilled using a

backfilling; no foreign materials are permitted in the trench.

Backfilling requires special attention in the following areas:

- in steep slopes (where the soil is generally rocky), the backfill material used to prepare

the pipeline bed and which is in contact with the pipe may be easily washed away.

Indeed, the trench is working like a drain and over the years the backfill will tend to

slip down the hill. To avoid this, special arrangements are made to stabilize the backfill in place (sand bag walls for instance) and to evacuate the water under control (drain pipe, diverters).

- when crossing underground structures or in any case when the minimum cover cannot

be achieved, special measures should be taken to provide the same level of protection:

backfilling with concrete, concrete slabs, etc… More than in normal cases, the backfill around the pipe should be properly compacted to provide the necessary strength to the line against static and dynamic pressure from loads crossing the trench.

- The above also applies when for some reasons the normal cover could not be achieved

due to construction problems: collapsing of the trench during the lowering in operation or river crossings (when the crossing is in open trench, the backfill of this trench shall be stabilized against erosion from the river).


After backfilling, the pipeline is hydrostatically tested following applicable regulations.

Actually, pipeline testing is more than just leak detection and resistance checking. Pipelines

are tested even when there is no applicable regulation. Indeed, the purposes of this “testing” operation are multiple:

- remove all debris from the inside;

- verify that there is no obstruction or diameter reduction;

- make sure the pipeline will not come out of the ground under pressure (Bourdon


- make sure the additional weight of the test water can be supported by the trench;

- check for leaks with maximum accuracy,

- check for resistance, verify the strength of the pipe and the weld,

- empty totally the test water (even this little tiny pocket under this river crossing)

- clean and dry (mainly for gas pipelines) the internal surface of the pipeline before the

client introduces valuable product into it,

- close the line at both ends to avoid any introduction of foreign materials and water.

- avoid corrosion;

- avoid polluting the environment with the huge quantities of rusty test water;

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