The integrity of new pipeline projects is critical to Saudi Aramco to avoid any short or long-term impact on the supply of energy. During construction activities, pipeline internal welding inspection is carried out in compliance with international and Saudi Aramco requirements. The visual inspection of internally cladded girth welded pipes requires extra care to avoid any improper field fabrication errors during welding, especially at the root pass area. Such errors can limit the inspection capability and compromise the integrity of pipeline network with possible degradation of corrosion resistance at/near the weld rot, resulting in premature failures. Currently, projects utilize conventional tools such as borescope which is time consuming with limited inspection capabilities (up to 150 meters inside the pipe) and system maneuverability at inspection locations.
The Saudi Aramco Inspection Department enhanced their active inspection technology program and collaborated with a local technology developer. They trialed a wireless crawler robot, which is a high resolution remotely operated robot capable of inspecting internal girth welds with 5000 meters travel capability inside the pipes. The robot can inspect internal girth welds in the field, and inside pipelines with internal diameters of 6 inches and above, and wirelessly transmits the visual inspection results to the outside control room for a timely assessment and critical decision making. The internal visual inspection with wireless crawler robot will help in improving the project progress, reducing repair costs, by identifying defective welds before coating application.