Hot tapping, also known as pressure tapping, is the process of making connections to an existing pipeline, network or pressurised vessel without having to empty it beforehand.
In effect, the process enables the container that is being operated on to continue functioning as normal, meaning that downtime can be avoided and pipelines can continue throughput with the minimum of interruption.
Hot tapping is used to make repairs where corrosion or other types of physical damage have occurred to a particular system, but it can also be applied for modification or upgrade work.
The oil and gas transmission and distribution industries will often need to make new connections to pipelines in order to expand or modify existing systems. When the complications of working in extreme environments with volatile materials (often under pressurised conditions) are taken into account, the process has previously been both dangerous and expensive.
Shutting down a portion of the system in order to make safe working conditions has been necessary prior to the introduction of hot tapping methods, and as well as economically damaging downtime there will also be negative environmental aspects such as methane emissions to take into account.
Hot tapping allows a new pipeline connection to be made while the network remains in service.
Hot tapping in itself is not a new process, but recent innovations in design and technology mean that it is now more effective than before. Hot tap procedures are now used routinely on small jobs, and larger taps greater than 12 inches are becoming increasingly routine.
Developments in hot tapping machinery are also changing how and where pipelines can be tapped. Our own line of high pressure hot tapping machines, including the CHT1000 (3 - 12") hot tapping machine shown above, are exceptional in the marketplace in that they have a working pressure capacity of 5000psi.
Hot tapping procedure
The procedure for performing a shutdown interconnect can differ for each set of circumstances and specific application, but essentially in a high-pressure system the surrounding valves need to be closed in order to isolate the pipeline segment. A number of inserted plugs are subsequently placed next to the valves in a procedure which is designed to stop pipeline leakage.
Benefits of hot tapping
Hot tapping pipelines helps to ensure pipeline downtime is kept to a minimum even when significant plat upgrades are required while also ensuring pipeline leakages are reduced. The commercial and environmental benefits of this are there for all to see.
It's no surprise then that interest in the Mirage hot tapping machines is so high.