Hydrostatic testing has historically been the accepted approach to detecting critical pipeline flaws. While hydrostatic testing is an alternate approach to ensure the reliability of a line, it is not ideal due to the possibility of damage to the asset as well as the interruption in the product flow.
As ILI is the most efficient pipeline integrity management tool, an operator published a request for proposal (RFP) to develop and provide a solution that delivered a step-change in crack inline inspection (ILI) performance for challenging seam-weld geometries. End-user expectations were defined, allowing vendors to propose a solution they believed would be most likely to deliver on those expectations.
The RFP included a series of aspirational goals for feature characterization in a range of seam welds, flaw types and morphologies, operational characteristics, and management of human factors. While accuracy and consistency for characterization of the types and severity of cracking in a pipeline was the primary goal, the operator also expected a new technology to fit within or improve upon the operational envelope of the currently available ILI crack tools.