Pipeline companies continue to seek ways to improve the quality and efficiency of modifying and repairing pipelines. The focus is on improving the overall quality of the completed work, ensuring that all long term integrity issues are managed and that there will not be a need to return to the site. Many operators have found that when repairs or modifications were undertaken, failures occurred later causing environmental damage or situations where repeated work was required, both impacting landowners, public, customers and company profitability. Pipeline operators control and manage the construction of new pipelines to ensure that the highest quality standards are maintained. Over time these standards may be compromised due to the requirement for modifications and repairs.

Procedures must ensure that there is a proper balance between cost and quality, as in many instances these two areas are directly related to one another. There is a continued focus on reducing overall costs and the number of fittings that are left on the pipeline after repairs are completed. This, combined with the increased regulatory focus on pipeline safety will challenge the industry. Operators have found from experience that fittings are a known source of problems. Operators continue to modify work procedures to reduce the number of fittings that are left on the pipeline.

To date, reliability has been a major concern for operators when using internal pipeline isolation tools. The reliability of the first generation tools was compromised because they required large internal power sources, external controls and were very complex. With this new technology the reliability issue has been addressed.

A new technology has been developed that will allow an operator to carry out maintenance and repairs that will leave the pipeline in virtually the same state as new construction. The PAPlug (pressure activated plug) isolation tool is designed to allow operators to enhance the repair process while reducing over all costs. The development of the PAPlug focused on the use of a reliable energy source for setting and releasing the isolation tool. The energy source was found within the pipeline itself in form of pressure and flow.

The PAPlug has only three moving elements and is designed to be robust and reliable as there are no high maintenance seals, remote controls or large power requirements. All PAPlug operations use internal pipeline pressures which are readily available. The PAPlug can be operated multi-times per run allowing an operator to carry out a number of maintenance activities if required.

The PAPlug transmits internal pipeline pressures and/or temperature information to an above ground receiver allowing the operator to monitor status before and during isolation activities.

The PAPlug technology will allow the operator to select the optimum repair and modification process which include drain-up, pump around and nitrogen purge. The end result will be a repair that will leave the pipeline in new construction state.

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