(Newsletter, Feb., 2024)

Welcome to our monthly newsletter focusing on an essential aspect of pipeline maintenance and operation: pig launchers and receivers. These devices play a critical role in ensuring the integrity and efficiency of pipeline systems worldwide.

Pig Launchers and Receivers

Understanding Pig Launchers and Receivers

Typically, pig launchers are installed at the beginning of a pipeline section, allowing pigs to be inserted into the line, while pig receivers are located at the end of the section to capture and remove the pigs from the pipeline.

Location Along the Pipeline

Pig launchers and receivers are key components in pipeline systems used for the launching and receiving of pipeline inspection gauges or “pigs.” These pigs are devices inserted into the pipeline for various purposes such as cleaning, inspection, or maintenance.

Operation of Pig Launchers and Receivers

  1. Pig Launcher Operation:
    • To launch a pig into the pipeline, the launcher’s closure door is opened after ensuring that the pipeline segment downstream is isolated.
    • The pig is loaded into the launcher barrel, which is then pressurized by the product flowing into the launcher.
    • Once the pressure is sufficient, the closure door is quickly closed, trapping the pig inside the launcher.
    • With the closure door securely shut, the product flow is resumed, and the pressure pushes the pig into the pipeline.
  2. Pig Receiver Operation:
    • As the pig approaches the receiver, the closure door of the receiver is opened, and the product flow is diverted away from the main pipeline and into the receiver.
    • The pig enters the receiver, and once it is fully captured, the closure door is closed to prevent the pig from re-entering the pipeline.
    • The product flow is then redirected back into the main pipeline, and the pig is safely removed from the receiver for inspection or maintenance.

Designing and installing pig launchers and receivers

Operation of Pig Launchers and Receivers
It’s crucial to adhere to various regulations and standards set forth by regulatory bodies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), American Petroleum Institute (API), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Here are some key regulations and standards to consider:
  1. Department of Transportation (DOT):
    • 49 CFR Part 195: This regulation governs the transportation of hazardous liquids by pipeline. It includes provisions for pipeline integrity management, inspection, maintenance, and construction standards.
    • 49 CFR Part 192: While primarily focused on natural gas pipelines, this regulation includes requirements for pipeline design, construction, and operation, which may be applicable to certain aspects of pig launchers and receivers.
  2. American Petroleum Institute (API):
    • API RP 14E: Recommended Practice for Design and Installation of Offshore Production Platform Piping Systems. While specific to offshore platforms, it provides guidance on piping system design principles that may be relevant to onshore pipeline systems.
    • API RP 1110: Recommended Practice for the Pressure Testing of Steel Pipelines for the Transportation of Gas, Petroleum Gas, Hazardous Liquids, Highly Volatile Liquids, or Carbon Dioxide. This standard outlines procedures for pressure testing pipelines, which is relevant during the installation of pig launchers and receivers.
  3. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
    • 29 CFR Part 1910: General Industry Standards. While not specific to pipelines, these standards include requirements for workplace safety and health that may apply during the construction and installation of pig launchers and receivers.
    • 29 CFR Part 1926: Construction Industry Standards. Similar to Part 1910 but specific to construction activities, these standards may also apply to aspects of pipeline construction and installation.
  4. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA):
    • 49 CFR Part 192 Subpart I: This section of the regulation covers requirements for pipeline facility construction, including standards for materials, design, fabrication, installation, inspection, and testing.
When designing and installing pig launchers and receivers, it’s essential to consult these regulations and standards to ensure compliance with legal requirements and best practices for pipeline safety and integrity. Failure to adhere to these regulations could result in penalties, safety hazards, and environmental risks. Therefore, thorough knowledge and application of these standards are crucial for pipeline operators and designers.

Common Components

PIG Launcher
  1. Valves: Valves are crucial for controlling the flow of the product and allowing the pig to enter or exit the pipeline safely.
  2. Pig Signalers (Pig Sig): These devices indicate the passage of a pig through the launcher or receiver, providing essential information about the pig’s movement within the pipeline.
  3. Gauges and Instruments: Pressure gauges, temperature gauges, flow meters, and other instruments help monitor pipeline conditions and ensure safe operation during pigging operations.
  4. Pressure Relief Devices: These devices protect the launcher or receiver from over pressurization, ensuring the safety of the equipment and personnel.
  5. Bypass Lines: Bypass lines provide a pathway for product flow when the launcher or receiver is offline for maintenance or pigging operations.
  6. Isolation Valves: Isolation valves are used to isolate the launcher or receiver from the main pipeline for maintenance or repair purposes.
  7. Vent and Drain Connections: These connections allow for the release of trapped air and drainage of liquids from the launcher or receiver during operation and maintenance.
  8. Instrumentation Ports: Instrumentation ports provide access points for connecting monitoring and control devices to the launcher or receiver.

Checklist for Project Teams

  1. Pressure Ratings: Determine the required pressure ratings for the launcher and receiver based on pipeline operating conditions and regulatory standards.
  2. Pipe Size: Specify the pipe size compatible with the launcher and receiver to ensure proper fit and functionality.
  3. Weld Standards: Define the welding standards to be followed during fabrication and installation to guarantee structural integrity and safety.
  4. Launch Barrel Sizing: Determine the appropriate size of the launch barrel based on pig dimensions and operational requirements.
  5. Closure Door Requirements: Specify the type and design of closure doors required to meet operational needs and safety standards.
  6. Material Specifications: Define the materials to be used for construction to ensure compatibility with the product being transported and environmental conditions.
  7. Coating Requirements: Specify coating requirements for corrosion protection and longevity of the launcher and receiver.
  8. Accessibility and Maintenance Considerations: Evaluate accessibility for maintenance tasks such as pig removal, inspection, and routine maintenance.
  9. Compliance Requirements: Ensure that the design and construction of the launcher and receiver comply with relevant industry standards and regulatory requirements.
  10. Emergency Shutdown System: Determine if an emergency shutdown system is necessary and specify its requirements for safety and operational purposes.

Developing a Scope of Work

Utilize the checklist above to help start developing a comprehensive scope of work defining the project’s needs and specifications. This document can then be used to develop a Request for Quotation (RFQ) and help to ensure that all parties understand the project requirements thoroughly.
We hope this newsletter provides valuable insights into the importance and functionality of pig launchers and receivers along pipelines. Need help developing a scope of work for your next project, give S&S Technical a call

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