• 2 minutes Oil Price Could Fall To $30 If Global Deal Not Extended
  • 5 minutes The Inconvenient Truth Of Electric Cars
  • 8 minutes Iran downs US drone. No military response . . Just Destroy their economy. Can Senator Kerry be tried for aiding enemy ?
  • 3 hours Here we go folks, the wish of so many: Pres. Trump threatens to lessen US security role in Strait of Hormuz, unveils sanctions
  • 5 hours Climate change & Wildfires: More Wildfires To The Western U.S., Will Affect Tens Of Millions Of People
  • 2 hours Wonders of Shale - Gas, bringing investments and jobs to the US
  • 10 mins Magic of Shale: EXPORTS!! Crude Exporters Navigate Gulf Coast Terminal Constraints
  • 8 hours Hard To Believe: UAE Will Work To Defuse Middle East Tension
  • 3 hours The Plastics Problem
  • 9 mins The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint
  • 4 hours Looks like Trump is putting together a "Real" Coalition to protect Persian shipping lanes. Makes perfect sense. NO Fake "Coalition's of the Willing" UPDATE REUTERS Pompeo "Sentinel Program"
  • 6 hours Cherry Picking Climate Data
  • 10 hours Oil Demand Needs to Halve: Equinor
  • 10 hours Green vs. Coal: Bavaria Seeks Fast-Track German Coal Exit in Snub to Merkel Plan
  • 2 hours Is $60/Bbl WTI still considered a break even for Shale Oil
  • 4 hours Coal Boom in Asia is Real and a Long Trend
Alt Text

Oilfield Services Are Flexing Their Muscles

Oilfield service companies are beginning…

Alt Text

The 100-Year Old Wildcatter Poised For A Breakout

Noble Energy is an industry…

Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

More Info

Premium Content

Oil Pipelines To Be Inspected By Robots

The robots are coming to oil and gas. This message is something we’ve been hearing a lot lately, what with autonomous trucks, piloted by Canada’s Suncor, to automated drilling rigs, robots that collect seismic survey data, and even self-sufficient, remotely operated entirely submerged oil production platforms. And that list is likely to grow in the future.

Besides all these major robotic applications for the oil and gas industry, there are also robots that can conduct pipeline inspections from the inside. An array of four such robots will later this year be used to inspect a 40-year branch of the Trans-Alaska pipeline system at the Valdez terminal.

The robots were developed by a Russia-based company, Diakont, which says that its pipeline crawlers—Remotely Operated Diagnostic Inspection System or RODIS crawlers—supply highly accurate data and they do it in real time, which helps with timely decision-making. From a single access point, the company says, its robots can examine up to 1,800 feet of pipes with diameters ranging between 8 and 55 inches.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Alex DeMarban writes that the four robots, all with human names, by the way, will use lasers and a technology similar to ultrasound to check a 350-foot underground pipeline section for signs of corrosion. The pipeline branch feeds crude from the Trans-Alaska pipeline to storage tanks at Valdez.

This is not the first-time robots will be used for internal pipeline inspection, replacing the so-called smart pigs, or pipeline inspection gauges, that rely on magnetic sensors to detect corrosion and cracks. However, the smart pigs are quite long and cannot be used to inspect branches off the main pipeline.

DeMarban quotes a spokeswoman for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. as saying that in the last few years, the likes of Alice, Dee, Fiona, and Gary have been deployed to several underground branches of the Trans-Alaska pipeline that were never before inspected internally because of the impossibility of access for the smart pigs. All the robots need is a clean pipe, flushed with hot water and detergent or diesel fuel. Related: Is $75 Oil Still Possible?

The robots have retractable legs that allow them to basically circle the diameter of the pipeline, go into vertical sections and turn other corners. They are not wireless, however – they are connected to their operator by a cord via which the data they receive from their surroundings is transmitted. And here’s one fun fact from Diakont’s U.S. management: the three robots with female names got them because they are a bit smarter than the “male” one. They can crawl through changing diameters mid-pipe, the company’s director of pipeline services Brian Carlson told DeMarban.

Diakont says that its robots can be used for all sorts of pipelines, including offshore ones – an application that should have a bright future in light of all the worries around underwater oil and gas pipelines. A robot inspection could quench these worries—albeit temporarily—much better than a company statement full of verbal assurances.

Could all these robots one day combine into an almost completely automated supply chain? It’s not impossible. Automated rigs will drill the wells, extraction will also be automatic and so will field maintenance. How soon this will happen, however, is another question.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News