Posted by Vidisco, March 02, 2023
The oil and gas industry relies heavily on inspection for quality assurance, while ensuring that all equipment is running reliably and safely. With regulations such as ASME and API, oil platforms, refineries, power stations, and oil and gas pipelines must be constantly checked for corrosion, erosion, or any imperfections that could lead to dangerous conditions, critical failures, or worse, catastrophic incidents.
Inspection is carried out through Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Techniques. NDT is a critical process that can be used to evaluate, analyze, and test the properties of materials without causing any harm or damage. Infinitely important for upstream and downstream oil and gas companies, NDT must be carried out efficiently and accurately to ensure smooth operation.
Challenges of NDT for the Oil and Gas Industry
The need for accurate and reliable analysis in the oil and gas industry cannot be stressed enough. Mistakes, unclear images, or missed imperfections could lead to detrimental consequences. Unfortunately, pipe failure in refineries and oil wells can be quite common, especially in equipment that may be aging or consistently used. NDT ensures that potential problems are found before leading to a crack, leak, or something worse. Fixing problems before they arise leads to smooth operation and minimal downtime, both necessary at plants and refineries that run around the clock.
With such importance on this process, inspection managers must closely evaluate kilometers of pipeline. Pipeline may be coiled in cramped areas or curved into corners that are difficult to examine. Inspectors must adequately check every millimeter of pipe to ensure they don’t miss anything. They then must make authoritative decisions about whether maintenance or any other preventative measures are needed.
Equipment used for NDT must be portable and simple to operate, otherwise, inspection could take days to complete. Additionally, if equipment requires printing images for inspection, this can lead to bottlenecks as inspectors wait to see the inspection results. If images are unclear or show possible faults, they may need to be done, prolonging the inspection process. Some equipment that uses x-ray (DR) technology may also require site closures during inspection to reduce exposure to employees, also causing production delays.
Oil and Gas Standards for (DR) NDT
NDT is not optional. Today, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) maintain standards and recommended practices for the oil and gas industry. These standards are increasingly being applied internationally and some have been adopted by ISO. These standards cover every aspect in this sector, from drill bits to environmental protection. Several standards apply to Digital Radiography NDT.
The API NDT standards include:
- API RP 580-Risk-Based Inspection – The main purpose of API RP 580 is to provide a systematic approach to identifying and assessing the risk of failure in equipment and determining appropriate inspection intervals.
- API 510-Pressure Vessel Inspection Code – used for in-service inspections of pressure vessels that are already in operation.
- API 570-Piping Inspection Code – used for inspecting and assessing the condition of piping systems in operation, identifying and evaluating defects or degradation that may lead to failure or loss of containment, such as corrosion, erosion, cracking, or deformation.
- API RP 572-Inspection of Pressure Vessels – used to establish the minimum requirements for inspection of pressure vessels, including the types of inspections, intervals between inspections, and the qualifications of inspectors.
- API RP 577-Welding, Inspection, and Metallurgy – The purpose of API RP 577 is to provide guidelines and recommendations for ensuring the quality and reliability of welded equipment used in the industry.
- API 653-Tank Inspection: Repair, Alteration, and Reconstruction – The purpose of API 653 is to provide guidelines and requirements for ensuring the integrity and reliability of ASTs (aboveground storage tanks) over their service life.
Why use NDT (DR)?
Not only is it required, but NDT can also save companies a lot of headaches. NDT testing detects cracks in pipelines, welding issues, surface corrosion, and other material flaws. It can also measure pipe wall thickness, which could change over time due to pressure during use. DR NDT is a non-invasive examination method that provides important data about pipes.
There are many NDT methods for conducting inspections. Inspectors can use Visual NDT, by inspecting the pipes with their own eyes, a flashlight, or a camera. There is also Ultrasonic testing, which uses high-frequency ultrasonic sound waves to detect internal flaws. Electromagnetic NDT is another method that uses electrical currents and magnetic particles for examination. Another method is digital radiography (DR), which uses gamma or x-ray technology to generate photographs of piping. Each method has its own benefits and challenges, so every oil and gas company must decide what works best for them.
Digital Radiography (DR NDT / X-Ray)
Today, many oil and gas companies use Digital Radiography (DR) for NDT inspection. This method saves time, money, and provides instant and accurate imaging. DR technology uses x-ray imaging to scan equipment. Because it is digital, images are displayed immediately, allowing for on-the-spot inspection. Files can also be transmitted for higher level inspection and analysis as needed. In the case of kilometers of pipeline, DR technology can automatically stitch together multiple images to display the entire pipeline and every crevice. Any image that is unclear or requires readjustment, can be reshot immediately.
Vidisco is a leading provider of portable DR (NDT) solutions for the oil and gas industry. The company’s testing systems are compact, easily transportable, and simple to set up. Battery operated and wireless, the system can scan pipeline for up to eight hours on battery life and unlimited time while plugged in.
The system also uses low doses of x-rays, meaning inspection only requires small area closures. This ensures minimal operation disruptions during inspections.
In the oil and gas industry, where safety, reliability, and efficiency are paramount, Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), particularly Digital Radiography (DR), has emerged as a crucial tool. NDT plays a pivotal role in ensuring the integrity of equipment, pipelines, and facilities, complying with stringent industry standards like those set by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The challenges in this sector, from aging equipment to the need for meticulous inspections across vast pipelines, demand a method that is efficient, accurate, and non-invasive. Digital Radiography (DR) NDT meets these criteria, offering real-time imaging, instant data transmission, and the ability to stitch together extensive pipeline scans seamlessly.
Vidisco, as a leading provider of portable DR solutions, exemplifies the capabilities of this technology with compact, transportable systems that minimize disruption during inspections. In the oil and gas industry, NDT, especially DR, is not only required but also a cornerstone of safety and operational excellence, saving companies from potential setbacks and ensuring the continued reliability of their operations.
If you can’t afford slowed operation due to the inspection process and current inspection services, Vidisco’s DR NDT technology could be right for you. You can learn more about our solution and how we can customize it for your needs here.