Oil and Gas companies invest millions of dollars in establishing pipeline networks to transport oil, gas, and bi-products across vast distances. These pipelines are highly crucial to their operations in terms of their basic functioning, safety, and compliance with the various industry regulatory norms involved. 

There are two critical milestones in the initiation of pipeline operations; the first is the pre-commissioning phase, and the next is the commissioning stage. 

Pre-Commissioning Phase

This refers to the phase of preparatory work to ensure the pipelines are fit to use and are tested thoroughly to meet the desired performance standards. Pipelines perform different functions based on the type of material they carry, the distance, size, and location. Pre-commission helps with a series of audits to ascertain if the pipelines meet the stipulated specifications for the project and are designed with the required safety parameters. It also involves numerous tests to ensure hygiene of the system and the process before commissioning. Since these pipes carry highly volatile and flammable substances at high pressures, they are at a high level of risk. This implies that pre-commissioning is a rigorous process requiring all the critical validations. Failure to ensure the minimum standards can result in serious non-compliance with regulations and put the operations at risk right at the start. 

Pre-Commissioning and Commissioning

The difference between pre-commissioning and commissioning is that pre-commissioning is the pre-operations stage for testing and performance validation, while commissioning refers to the activation process. Third parties often conduct these pre-commissioning services to ensure the pipes are satisfactory. During commissioning, the objective is to take the installed pipeline network to the desired performance level. Using pipeline commissioning checklists to manage every detail of the process, crude oil, gas, and oil products are introduced into the pipeline from the origin point. The pipeline is filled to begin moving the product to its destination. Commissioning activities are possible only after a sign-off on the entire pre-commissioning process. During commissioning, a lot of initial data is generated and analyzed; this data becomes very critical in later stages of operations and helps the pipeline operator optimize transportation efficiency, develop performance prediction readings, and manage the flow to enhance the life of the pipelines. 

Pre-Commissioning Checklist

Pre-commissioning is an extensive process involving several inspections and tests. Here are some of the important ones.

Delivery Inspection

This is conducted when the pipes arrive from the manufacturer or supplier to check if they meet expected quality standards before being installed. Basic checks include validating if the end caps are in place to protect the internal areas of the pipes, if the pipes have the correct wall thickness and flanges, and if red oxide paint has been used where needed. Inspectors also check if the pipelines are dry inside and are intact with no scratches and damage. 

Storage Inspection

Technicians also check the storage area where pipes are lodged before installation. The storage area must be clean, free of dust and moisture, and well protected from the elements. The site must also be well ventilated to avoid high humidity, potentially damaging the pipes.

Storage of the Pipework

A few vital points must be inspected when the pipes are moved into the storage area. For instance, they must be stored so there is no overstacking or piling beyond a point. The pipe must not have other heavy material stored on top, and the ancillaries must be stored securely. Pipes must be kept at a raised level to avoid being affected by any water accumulation and also to allow sufficient ventilation underneath. Inspectors also ensure that the connection caps are in place to protect the flanges during storage. 

Pre-Installation Inspection

A pre-installation inspection is also part of the commissioning process. It involves checking the readiness of the bracketry and, if it has the required load-bearing capacity, proper spacing, and if the area is clean, dry, and free of dust. Pipework has to be protected from concrete debris, cement particles, and dirt. In addition, inspectors check if all connections like bolts and gaskets are available for bolting pipework. They also inspect to ensure sufficient room around the pipework, enabling easy access for maintenance workers and service equipment. 

Pre-Commissioning Inspection

Before the pipeline is commissioned, several detailed checks are conducted. Inspectors check if the pipelines are installed in line with the drawings and project specifications and if the pipes have space to expand and contract without causing damage to the installation or the surrounding infrastructure. They ensure that drain valves are in place to enable seasonal draining and that the pipelines are insulated and vapor sealed as per specifications. Pipes are also inspected to validate that they have the required seismic restraints, are installed with the right amount of pitch, have the needed gaskets and properly rated ancillaries, and allow for draining and venting. During this phase, other tests like magnetic weld testing and ultrasonic weld testing are conducted, and the installation is cleared for minimum quality standards. 

General Pipework Checklist

The pre-commissioning and commissioning stages involve Detailed Checklists; Commissioning process flowcharts; Plant commissioning procedure documents; Equipment commissioning procedure checklists to ensure infrastructure and processes are of required standards.   

Fielda – Dynamic Checklist for Pipeline Pre-Commissioning Procedures

Fielda’s checklist for pipeline pre-commissioning offers inspectors the flexibility to adapt them as required depending on the project at hand. Create project-specific workflows dynamically to suit the unique requirements of the company’s operations so that multiple teams (inspection teams, tools, resources, and logistics) can coordinate more effectively. In addition, Fielda has offline data capture capability, a critical feature required in the oil and gas industry where pipelines are often in off-grid locations with limited or no internet connectivity. Its GIS functionality also helps inspectors accurately map, visualize and monitor assets across the pipeline network, giving them the needed intelligence to plan, schedule, and conduct inspections faster and with significantly less effort.