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Vol. 15, No. 30 Week of July 25, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Kuparuk Transportation enlarging line

Kuparuk Transportation Co. is standardizing the pipeline size of the Kuparuk Pipeline Extension and installing a pig launcher and receiver to meet standards for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integrity Management Program.

The project began last year when the Regulatory Commission of Alaska granted Kuparuk Transportation Co. a permit to enlarge a section of the pipe in the Kuparuk Pipeline Extension, a part of the Kuparuk Pipeline.

In February 2009 RCA granted the company a temporary permit to begin construction so that work could begin to replace a 4.15-mile 12-inch diameter pipe with an 18-inch diameter pipe, making the entire length of the extension a standard size so smart pigs can be run through the line.

Kuparuk Transportation told RCA the work will allow it to meet requirements of DOT’s “Integrity Management Program.”

By enlarging the size of the pipeline, the company will have a more accurate means of detecting potential corrosion because it will be able to use a smart pig on almost the entire Kuparuk pipeline.

The company applied for expedited consideration, telling RCA that unless it could proceed with pipeline construction in the first quarter of 2009, it would be “significantly challenged” to meet the regulatory deadline of May 2011 for compliance with DOT regulations. Pipeline construction beginning in February 2009 and placement of pipe in racks beginning in March 2009 were necessary to meet a May 2011 deadline for a baseline inspection required by DOT.

The schedule called for pipeline construction and installation in the first quarter of 2009, including installation of pigging module valves, so pigging modules could be installed in 2010 without the need for a pipeline shutdown.

The new pipe was scheduled to be tied into the existing 18-inch pipeline and placed in service in July 2009.

Pig launcher and pig receiver installation was scheduled for the second quarter of 2010, with launcher and receiver to be placed in service in the third quarter of 2010, allowing for in-line inspection and validation of results, typically a 180-day process, prior to the May 2011 regulatory deadline.

—Kristen Nelson



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