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Hot tapping in service pipelines: 5 key considerations


Hot tapping has allowed engineers to connect to in service pipelines without shutting down the system, saving valuable down time that otherwise would be added to the operators overall costs.

The process used to repair pipelines and branch out into new connections requires careful planning, skilled engineers, and the best hot tapping equipment available on the market. For those engineers looking to tie into in service pipelines, here’s 5 key considerations to think about:

1 – What is the state of the current pipeline?

An audit is required before a hot tapping procedure to determine the maximum operating pressure, type & diameters of pipe material and the condition of the parent pipeline. Other conditions to think about are the location of the procedure and the contingency strategy should an accident occur.

2 – What is the cost of performing a shutdown interconnect?

On top of the direct costs for material, equipment, welding requirements and labour, it’s important to consider the costs of performing a shutdown in case the in service hot tapping fails or is no longer feasible. Referencing historical company data should allow you to budget and scope out any further financial support, should the project take a step back.

3 – Is hot tapping financially viable?

There are gas saving benefits to be made through hot tapping instead of shutdown, but could the added cost of skilled labour, additional accessories and hot tapping machines make the process financially amiss? True, there are savings to be made when the elimination of venting and inert purge gas from the project are made – but the newest technique is not always the best option for all operators.

4 – What fittings should you use on steel pipes?

For tapping on steel pipes, fittings should consist of a welded branch connection, but for those tapping into cast iron, asbestos cement or concrete, fittings usually cannot be added to existing headers. In this instance, alternate techniques such as split cast iron compression sleeves, or a mechanical joint saddle should be implemented.

5 – Are you following the correct industry standards?

Industry and federal codes give engineers a minimum standard to achieve for every part of the hot tapping process, including any welding around the pipeline. ASME standards B21.8, and API standards 2201, 1104, D12750 and 49 CFR 192 should be looked at with considerable detail. For more information on these standards, check out our blog here.

Done correctly, hot tapping can be a cost efficient and environmentally better process, as well as creating safer working conditions. Hopefully along with these 5 key considerations and thorough look over the standards provided by ASME and API, you will continue to achieve successful hot tapping procedures that are less hazardous, more reliable and most importantly, better for your business.

Download the Mirage Machines Hot Tapping and Line Stopping Buyers Guide

Information from: Natural Gas STAR partners

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