What happens if a smart PIG gets stuck in a pipeline?

We get questions from Canadians all the time, and we do our best to answer them. If you have a question about pipelines, send it to us here.

CEPA members are committed to operating their pipelines in the safest and most responsible way. To make sure pipelines are operating safely, they use a variety of monitoring systems that feed information back to control rooms in real-time. These monitoring systems will alert operators to any abnormalities in product flow, pressure, temperature or any number of other indicators that there may be an issue with the pipeline.

While operators monitor their pipelines 24/7, they also have inspection programs to make sure their pipelines are structurally sound and in good working order.

One method is in-line inspection using smart PIGs (pipeline inspection gauges). These high-tech tools have multiple sensors, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound technology, that inspect the pipeline from the inside for any signs of corrosion or other indications that the pipe may be at risk of cracking.

You asked, “what happens if a smart PIG gets stuck in a pipeline?” Well, the short answer is that pipeline operators plan well in advance and take precautions to prevent a PIG from getting stuck. But, because they run inside the pipeline, there is a risk that they get lodged on a seam or buildup of material.

In this video, Alasdair goes over just a couple of the ways that operators can try to get PIGs moving if they do happen to get stuck.