Since bringing an entire pipeline system into a lab for inspection is impossible, engineers have combined the know-how of GE Healthcare, GE Oil & Gas, BP, and the applied marine technology company, Oceaneering International, to safely inspect miles of underwater pipeline that sits under more than 4,400 pounds of pressure.
Read: Treating Pipelines Like Patients
For the equipment to function at extreme depths, the team needed a way to equalize the pressure in the housing with the extremely high subsea pressures, which required a redesign of the detector. To help the pressure equalization process, a new housing was also developed, which the team filled with liquid.
“Our radiography devices are enabled by a delicate piece of glass the thickness of a quarter, and we’re operating at temperatures close to zero degrees Celsius and at pressures approaching 4,500 PSI,” explains Shana Telesz, GE radiography product manager. “Operations are performed remotely from more than a mile away while surrounded by moving water.”
The equipment is deployed with a diver, and operated remotely from the surface. Digital X-ray technology allows instant transmission of images to the surface so operators can make immediate decisions about their equipment.
According to the team, a 12-inch pipe can be inspected with a total X-ray on-time of close to two minutes. Currently, the Subsea X-ray is commercially available and performs reliably at 2,000 feet.
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