One of the great difficulties of the pipeline sector is the conduction of tests and research activities in pipelines. On top of the inherent risks associated to any evaluation, it is not easy to simulate extreme conditions in a pipeline in operation. The permanent compromise with the operations of transportation and distribution of products also makes stops and operational condition modifications at the pipeline a difficult task.
The facilities dedicated to tests also have high construction, operation and maintenance costs and only a few companies can afford such structure without unduly burdening their costs. The same applies for the availability of researchers and the building up of research and development structures.
On the other hand, the increasing technologic challenges created by the necessity of new field exploration lead the companies to undertake research and development activities as a means of keeping the competitiveness and exhibiting an outstanding market performance.
Created with the objective of meeting such needs and working as a shared research center, available for use by all the sector companies, being members or not, the Pipeline Technology Center (CTDUT) has been increasing its services offer to the pipeline community, trying to fill gaps and work as an independent institution and as a discussion forum for the industry.
A non-profit institution, open to the membership of any company of the pipeline sector, the center model was based on an initial bold conception that is proving to be perfectly adjusted to the reality and producing excellent results.
Located in Rio de Janeiro and e inaugurated in May 10th, 2006, from the initiative of its three founder partners – Petrobras, Transpetro e PUC-Rio –, CTDUT has, today, 45 associates, including several outstanding institutions in their field of activities.
The Technology Center counts on facilities fully dedicated to tests and trainings, available for the use by all the pipeline community and operation staff, specialized and trained to attend all the tests required by such facilities
“There is, at the CTDUT structure, a management capability to manage the research and development projects in which the institution participates”, considers the President of the Executive Board of the Pipeline Technology Center – CTDUT, Raimar van den Bylaardt.
“The audacity of the design is in the conception of a Science and Technology institution which integrates a wide network of researchers and that, on its turn, exhibits the agility and dynamism to incorporate these experts every time a specific knowledge demand arises”, explains. “The idea here is bring the best together, laboratories or people, without competition, but on a complementary way, aiming at optimize results with saving resources, beyond the boundaries of institutions and encouraging the associative and participatory work”.
By using this network approach, CTDUT promotes the participation of the community in its works at the most diverse segments of the sector, generating opportunities of interaction between them. A good example is the participation of CTDUT in the draft of the proposed Rules for Pipeline Safety Operation, being prepared by the National Agency for Oil, Natural gas and Biofuel (ANP).
CTDUT offers today facilities that make possible a series of testing procedures for supporting research and training, like Loop14, the Pig Tester and the Structural Integrity Laboratory, among others.
The test pipeline with 14" diameter and 100 meter length is equipped with flanged air reels, with inserted and mapped defects, allowing the performance evaluation of any type of PIG, including ultra-sonic and MFL (Magnetic Flux Leakage) pigs. The pipeline offers the possibility of training operators in all procedures related to the launching and receiving of PIGs, such as operation of control and blocking valves, opening and closure of PIG launcher and receiver covers. It also allows the training for intervention operations in loaded pipelines, oriented to maintenance activities.
The Pig tester, equipped with pipelines with diameters between 6” and 16” and PIG cradles, has known and mapped defects. It is equipped with a pulled engine, whose speed is controlled by a frequency inverter. It is used for tests that evaluate the efficiency of detection and calibration of instrumented PIGs, or any other equipment for defects detection, such as acoustic inspection of long range guided waves and can be assembled with pipelines of different diameters, according to test requirements.
On the other hand, the Structure Integrity Laboratory provides an adequate area for integrity tests (destructive or non destructive) of carbon steel or composite material pipelines, of any diameter, or equipment like valves or related equipment. It is fitted with a crane with 10 tons load capacity, hydrostatic pressurization pump up to 1000 bar, “bunker” with protection for high impacts, monitoring cameras for tests and masonry windows without glasses, appropriate for the testing environment. The area allocated for the tests has 74, 21 m² (4, 10 width x 2, 55 height x 18, 10 m length) with steel plates for superior protection.
“Among the activities carried out today, we have seven research and development projects with funds from CTPETRO – the Oil Sector Fund - through an agreement with FINEP (Financer of Studies and Projects) and financial partnership with Petrobrás,” says the executive manager of CTDUT, Arthur Braga. “Such projects are oriented to researches in leakages detection, studies of transients in pipelines, drag reduction, georeference and the development of techniques for internal coating of pipelines and are being conducted through partnerships with universities and research institutes (UFRJ, UFF, IME, PUC-Rio, UERJ e INT)”.
The Center is also offering technology consultancy, through the education of specialized teams, to meet specific needs of the sector, providing high added content training for the community, staff training and consultancy for the implementation of ethanol pipelines, geotechnical studies for pipeline risk analysis, management plan as a function of the geotechnical risks identified, among others.
“Our facilities are perfectly suitable for training activities, qualification and certification of equipment and personnel, being capable of taking important role in activities for improving quality and reliability of pipelines, reducing the inherent risks associated with their use, which even being smaller than the risks associated with other transportation systems, are still existing”, he explains.
One of the customers of the Center is Clarion Technical Conferences who, in a partnership with Rosen and CTDUT, carries out practical trainings of PIG passage at the 14” Test Pipeline.
An eye in the future –
Who works with Research and Development must keep an eye in the future. Thinking about this, several projects are underway, for providing the Center with new labs and facilities in order to attend other sectors still not supported by the present facilities. The new facilities will bring more capability to CTDUT for meeting the pipeline community needs.
One of the projects is the industrial scale liquid hydrocarbons flow metrology laboratory, under development, which will have as main objective provide the country with basic infrastructure for the implementation of technology and knowledge in metrology for the mensuration of oil production.
With the implementation of the project at CTDUT, Brazil will join a selected group of countries that have flow laboratories using the proper operation fluid during the tests and calibration procedures, which will certainly provide autonomy and meaningful development of this area in the country.
Another important structure under construction is the 12” Test Oil Pipeline. The tests circuit was designed to support the research and development of new equipment, tools and systems for pipeline inspection and protection, tests with different operational flow conditions for the validation of developed simulation software, tests and certification of equipment and systems for control, protection, monitoring, inspection and maintenance of pipelines, besides the certification of processes and procedures of operation, inspection and maintenance of pipelines and for the training and qualificatio0n of pipeline operators and technicians.
With 2, 5 Km extension and 12 inches nominal diameter, the pipeline leaves the CTDUT area, goes along with existing pipelines and returns to the Center forming a closed circuit. The number of tanks designed for the pipeline allows its operation with oil, derivatives or water.
“For the same purpose but oriented to the transportation of Natural Gas, we will also have the 16” Test Gas Pipeline”, comments Arthur Braga. “The circuit will have similar characteristics to the test oil pipeline, contributing for the training of gas pipeline operators and allowing the conduction of technology tests. It will have 2, 5 Km length and will run on the same oil pipeline track, with compression space and guns in an area close to CTDUT”, explains the executive.
CTDUT starts up, in 2011, a pilot unit for cathodic protection tests
CTDUT will also starts up, by the first half of 2011, a pilot unit for Cathodic Protection Tests, Research and Evaluation of Anticorrosion Coatings for Pipelines in the country.
The Pilot Unit is being constructed in an approximately 1000 m2 area and will allow the conduction of tests and simulations of field conditions, through the installation of buried pipelines, lined with different types of anticorrosive coatings, protected by a cathodic protection system made out of rectifiers, anode beds and test points.
Budgeted at R$3,5 million, the facility became viable upon the signature, in October 2009, of a cooperation agreement with Petrobras, that will assume the costs of the unit by using the budget of the R&D (Research and Development) Investments Clause provided at the concession contracts.
External corrosion is one of the causes of leakages in buried or submersed pipelines. The protection of the structures against the corrosive process is presently made by the combination of the uses of Mechanical Coatings and Cathodic Protection Systems.
“With such structure we will be capable of simulate technical conditions pretty close the ones in the field, making possible the test of new technologies and new practices, besides the study of today existent situations in order to improve the comprehension of possible problems and their solutions”, explains Mauro Barreto, vice-President of CTDUT and member of the Brazilian Corrosion Association (ABRACO).
The main objective of the facility is to give support to R&D projects of companies, universities and technology centers. “The field of application of this technology is very wide, comprising from transportation companies and distributors to companies which have buried or maritime pipelines, besides the ones that offer services and equipment for cathodic protection”.
On top of that, the facility will totally meet the requirements of NBR 43:000.03-001 Standard (Criteria for the qualification and certification of cathodic protection professionals) from ABNT/CB-43 – Brazilian Corrosion Committee, being, therefore, fundamental for the adequate training of people to work in this area. ABRACO – the Brazilian Corrosion Association – is already getting ready for training and certification of professionals of the sector, forecasting the use of CTDUT facilities for the practical trainings and for the qualification tests.
Helena de Aguilar– Pipeline Technology Center – CTDUT
+55 (21) 2777-8524 / 9444-9585