Alberta Oilfield FAQ: What is Pipeline Pigging?

The province of Alberta is known not only across Canada but also around the world for its oilfields. While the oil produced in Alberta reaches so many, so few actually understand the work that goes on behind the scenes – more specifically, the work that goes on within the pipelines. One major component of the work that goes on within the oil industry is pipeline pigging.

To give you a better understanding of this element, we’ve composed this Alberta Oilfield FAQ: What is Pipeline Pigging?

Q: What is Pipeline Pigging?

A: Pipeline pigging is the process by which “pigs” are sent through the pipelines to conduct various maintenance tasks.

Q: What is a “Pig”?

A: A pig, in this regard, is a tool most commonly made of foam and in the shape of a bullet. Pigs can range in size and material, depending on the type of job needing to be done, and the size of pipeline being worked on. Some Alberta manufactures such as Apache Pipeline boast very high quality pigging equipment.

Q: What are the Most Common Uses of A Pig?

A: There are a variety of reasons that pipelines may need to be pigged. The most common uses of a pig include: cleaning the pipeline, flushing fluids from within the pipeline, recording the physical aspects of the pipeline (ie: size, uniformity, etc.), and inspecting the condition of the interior pipeline walls. All of these processes help to ensure optimal production from each well.

Q: What are the Different Types of Pigs?

A: There are 3 main types of pipeline pigs.

  • Utility Pigs are used to clean debris from the pipeline
  • In-Line Inspection Pigs are used to gather information about the pipeline
  • Specialty Pigs are usually used to block off portions of the pipeline

Q: How does Pipeline Pigging Work?

A: A pig is launched via a pigging barrel, also known as a pig trap. This pig trap is a funnel-shaped, angled portion of pipe that leads the pig down into the main pipeline. The pig is then propelled through the pipeline by the pressure of the well. This is done without interrupting the flow of product. At the end of the pipeline, the pig reaches the receiving station, where it is removed from the pipeline.

As it is used for a variety of maintenance tasks and provides unique collections of information regarding the pipelines, pigging is one of the most common and important aspects of the pipeline industry. We’ve highlighted this process because of how influential Alberta’s oilfields are and how important pipeline maintenance really is – it is crucial to pipeline safety, production optimization, and equipment advancements.

Hopefully this ‘Alberta Oilfield FAQ: What is Pipeline Pigging’ has given you a better understanding of the pigging process and why it is such a prominent and necessary procedure within the industry.

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