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Current News

First NIPSCO-led Pig Runs

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

“The significant part of these inspections is that this is the first ILI done by the NIPSCO team,” said Chuck Kanoy, director of transmission integrity management.

The gas line extends from the Illinois state line west of Lowell, IN, to just north of Kouts, IN. Before completing the pig runs, the team had to retrofit the pipe with a launcher and receiver.

The new features on the pipe make it ready for new assessment smart tools as technology advances. One example of a tool used in a gas pipe is the geometry tool. While running along the inside of the pipe, the geometry tool sensors measure any deviation from the normal internal diameter of the pipeline, such as dents, wrinkles, gouges or other geometric anomalies. Along with magnetic flux leakage (MFL) tool technology, these tools can diagnose threats of construction/manufacturing, corrosion, and third-party damage. These technologies were brought on site the week of Oct. 5 to complete the ILI assessment of this pipeline. The main goal behind the inspection and cleaning is pipeline safety.

“These inspections and tools are a strong enhancement for improved operations and maintenance (O&M) practices,” Kanoy said. “It’s a good way to monitor the pipelines and mitigate a catastrophic failure. We want to identify any issues with the line before they become uncontrolled events.”

Although a pig run might sound like something one would find on a farm, the term is used throughout the natural gas industry. “Some people say it stands for pipeline inspection gauge, and others say it’s called a pig run because the tool can make a squealing noise inside the pipe,” said Joe Craycraft, gas pipeline project engineer 2.

During this inspection, there were nine different runs, or nine different tools loaded, launched and received through the line. While the tools were being sent through, the team practiced speed control, keeping each tool traveling at a steady speed around 5 mph. The speed of the tool is important to be effective in cleaning, or in the case of smart tools, to be able to gather data effectively.

The pig run brought together multiple NIPSCO departments, including transmission integrity, gas maintenance and transmission, gas control, gas system planning and gas construction. “We have had strong communications throughout the process to keep everyone on the same page,” said Craycraft.

Now that the cleaning process is complete, the smart tools can be run through the pipeline. Once the tools are run through, the data will be analyzed by the integrity team to determine the appropriate response and if further action on the pipe is needed. Next year, the team will complete a pig run on the gas line that runs parallel to the one just inspected.


11-3-2015 9-17-57 AM