If a pipeline bursts or leaks, it can seriously damage the environment and communities around it. On the other hand, shutting down a pipeline to perform maintenance and repair leads to downtimes that prevent homes and businesses from receiving the power they need. How do companies perform necessary pipeline maintenance without inconveniencing operators or end-users? By executing a line stop and hot tap procedure, pipeline workers can bypass a section of pipe and perform a repair without shutting down the entire system. However, hot tapping isn’t always the right choice. Pipeline owners must carefully weigh the pros and cons of a hot tapping procedure before moving forward. A smart decision about the process means an efficient repair process that minimizes inconvenience for owners, workers, and end-users like you.
Pro: No System Downtime
The biggest benefit of hot tapping is that it eliminates system downtime. Instead of shutting down a pipeline, workers use line stopping and hot tapping equipment to bypass and isolate the section of pipe they need to work on. Product continues to flow through that piece of pipe so that end-user experience no fluctuation in their service. In addition to being more convenient for everyone, this is often a more cost-effective choice for pipeline operators.
Pro: Versatile Materials and Jobs
Pipeline operators can find hot tapping systems to fit nearly any pipe size, material, and type. The right hot tapping equipment can handle the exact pressure and temperature requirements of a pipeline system. Additionally, workers can use hot tapping to repair damaged sections of pipe, retrofit replacement materials, or add new sections of pipe—all while avoiding the need to cut and weld existing pieces of pipe.
Con: Procedure Can Be Difficult
Despite its usefulness, pipeline operators must be careful when executing a hot tapping procedure. During the hot tapping process, workers handle complicated and delicate machinery. They must also deal with the extreme temperature and pressure levels of the running pipeline. Because the pipeline is still in service, mistakes in the procedure pose a greater risk to personnel, equipment, and the surrounding environment.
Con: Requires Extensive Planning
Due to the aforementioned dangers, operators must undergo extensive planning and assessment before deciding to proceed with a hot tapping procedure. A hot work risk assessment and pipeline condition evaluation are just a few of the requirements before executing a line stop and hot tap on a section of pipe. During the planning stage, operators must weigh the pros and cons of a hot tapping procedure to make the best decision for their pipeline. Even after greenlighting the procedure, it takes a lot of work and planning to ensure the process is as safe, efficient, and effective as possible.