Norway: TDW Offers SmartTrack Monitoring System for Use in Global Market
TDW Offshore Services (TDW) announced that, for the first time, it is offering its SmartTrack™ remote tracking and pressure-monitoring system for use in the global marketplace. Until now, this proprietary technology has been used exclusively by TDW to carry out pipeline pressure isolation operations in conjunction with the company’s SmartPlug® isolation system.
TDW has executed several hundred isolation operations with the SmartTrack system in a wide variety of pipeline contexts. The success of these operations demonstrates not only its ability to remotely track inline tools and monitor pipeline pressure, but underscores its versatility and reliability.
“The SmartTrack system is a critical component of our pressure isolation service capability,” said Enzo Dellesite, Director – Global Market Development Offshore for TDW. “It helps us to isolate pipelines successfully, whether the job is to facilitate pipeline repairs or clean a line choked with debris. Given its versatility and success in the field, we made the decision to make the SmartTrack system readily accessible to operators and service companies that want to avail themselves of the wide-ranging benefits it offers,” he added.
Responding to the challenges of a changing environment
As operators move into remote territories to unearth new sources of oil and gas, unique challenges in the installation and maintenance of complex pipeline networks arise. These challenges demand more innovative technology, such as remote-controlled systems to inspect the pipelines and to isolate pressure during repair operations. Critical to these isolation procedures is the ability to control, track, and monitor pressure isolation tools. TDW responded by developing the SmartTrack remote tracking and pressure-monitoring system.
The SmartTrack system can track a wide range of devices in almost any environment. For example, the system was used when four pigs were deployed to flood, clean and gauge a 63-kilometer gas export pipeline system in Kollsnes, Norway. To comply with ATEX requirements, every pig was equipped with a SmartTrack D116 ATEX-certified transponder. Another example of the system’s flexibility came in a pipeline cleaning and pressure isolation operation carried out offshore the United Arab Emirates. The high friction pig train remained in the line for seven days while maintenance was conducted. Working from an offshore platform 200 meters away, technicians reviewed a continuous flow of data from SmartTrack transponders attached to the pigs.
“We are delighted by how these operations, and countless others carried out offshore and onshore, have demonstrated just how effective the SmartTrack system is,” said Larry Ryan, Director of Operations for TDW Offshore Services. “In view of its performance in the field, we are confident that we offer operators the most reliable means of tracking and locating any sort of device within a pipeline, in any environment.”
A revolutionary tracking solution
Traditional pig tracking methods were limited by the frequency level of the signal emitted and the consequent demands on battery life. The high frequencies required to track pigs moving at high velocities shortened battery life, which significantly reduced the ability to track and monitor pigs travelling at higher speeds or for longer periods.
To overcome these limitations, TDW developed the SmartTrack system. Based on electromagnetic technology using extremely low frequency (ELF), the system creates two-way (bi-directional), through-wall communication between transponders and transceivers. This allows the operator to remotely track and monitor a pipeline pig or any other inline device as it travels through a pipeline, regardless of location. Transponders are normally mounted on the pig or inspection tool and given a unique identification code, which allows the location to be determined with pinpoint accuracy. Should the pig stop or become lodged in the line, it can be located quickly.
Transceivers are situated near or on the pipeline, and receive the transmitted signals before relaying them to a user interface. Using a personal computer or handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) onboard a surface support vessel or platform, an operator reviews the data, continuously tracking the pig’s progress.
Through-wall communication technology allows the transmitter’s signal frequency to be adjusted remotely. It can also be remotely set to dormant mode, and then turned on when work recommences. As a result, it offers much greater flexibility and longevity for operations that must be monitored for long periods or when the operation is halted due to poor weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
The beauty lies in the flexibility
The SmartTrack system can be used nearly anywhere to track any device within pipelines up to a thickness of 50mm. It is also an effective means of tracking specially designed pigs in sequences used to flood, clean, and gauge pipelines during pre-commissioning. For subsea operations, transceivers can operate in depths to 3,000 meters with a maximum cable length of 1,200 meters, and acoustic links can be established on transceivers contained within subsea skid packages.
The SmartTrack system received full ATEX certification for use in Zone 1 hazardous locations from Det Norske Veritas (DNV) in Norway. The Topside Transceiver and handheld PDA use Intrinsic Safety, while the Transponder D116 uses Flameproof Enclosure Protection. The three are ATEX-certified for use in Zone 1, gas group B.
Press Release, March 20, 2013