Replacing 32 pipes on the Druzhba oil pipeline in under 88 hours
In September 2007, a unique event in terms of its scope and speed was carried out on the Czech section of the 20 inch diameter Russia to Germany Druzhba Oil Pipeline in South Moravia, where 32 pipe sections were replaced in a very short time.
An internal inspection had shown that wall thickness loss on sections of the Druzhba Oil Pipeline meant the pipe no longer met the operating pressure requirements. The pipes concerned were in two sections approximately 8 km downstream from a pumping station.
It was necessary for the pipe to be replaced during a planned shutdown that was scheduled to last for 96 hours; any extra time taken over this limit would result in prohibitively damaging cost penalties to the pipeline operator. Considerable planning was therefore required to have all the necessary skills and equipment onsite at the five locations involved, and to coordinate the activities of the large number of contractors required for the project.
Because it was impractical to separately drain each of the sections containing the pipe that was to be replaced, it was decided to drain the whole 9.7 km long pipe section, and then decontaminate the inside of the pipe to allow flame-cutting and welding to be undertaken.
Exchange of 32 pipes within 96 hours represented a great deal of work that involved large numbers of personnel and equipment. Between 19 and 20 September 2007 up to 100 workers from 14 co-operating companies directly participated in the work.
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