Hot tapping refers to the technique of creating connections on functional equipment. It is a crucial stage involving bypass installation on a pipeline to allow the repair of some piping sections. The section could be removed or replaced with a new piece of equipment.
Hot tapping involves fitting a welded branch piece to a running piece of equipment and forming a passage in the piping by drilling a section of the piping within the fitted part. This method is carried out to prevent the removal of the entire equipment. It allows the equipment to stay in service longer. Besides, the equipment could be cleaned without hindering the process. Hot tapping is characterized by welding on equipment and slicing through the piping. Expertise, experience and appropriate procedures are essential for safe and effective hot tapping. Proper planning and competence should be prioritized because hot tapping requires extreme caution, and if such caution cannot be achieved, the piece of equipment should be removed entirely. Therefore, prior to the hot tapping process, the equipment should be inspected extensively to confirm that it is in perfect condition to stay in service in case of mechanical concerns or leakage in the system.
The piece of machinery for hot tapping has limits in its working pressure and temperatures. It is essential to consider the probability of hiccups that may interfere with the procedure during the process. These issues could easily affect the system's pressure and temperature. Regardless of the length of the process, the system's condition should be sufficient to withstand the whole process. Hot tapping machinery could be operated manually or by hydraulics, electricity or air currents. These pieces of machinery should be compatible with the materials in the equipment. Moreover, the drilling machinery should be hard enough to cut through the equipment’s metallic confinement. Hot tapping machines are designed to operate under extreme temperatures and pressures. Hot tapping is accompanied by regulations covering various aspects of the machines involved, such as the amount of heat produced, hydrostatic pressure and rise in temperatures. The process should be safe for the personnel working on it to prevent injury or death during the operation.
In the petroleum industry, it is common to install fresh valves, laterals and access pipes to maintain a pipeline. For years, companies would close down the pipeline for safety concerns, and the closing down process depended on the pipeline's pressure. In case of high pressure, the connecting valves were closed to separate the part of the pipeline, and supplementary tools such as plugs are positioned adjacent to the vales to avoid leakages and enhance safety along the pipeline. In low-pressure conditions, a shorter section of the pipeline is closed down, and stoppels are utilized to separate the section. The fluid in the separated section is emitted, and piping is removed, whether there is high or low pressure. Hot tapping offers the option of connecting the pipeline without closing down the equipment and releasing fluids to the environment. It prevents interference with the flow and loss of commodity. Hot tapping devices are available for a range of pipeline sizes and materials in the network. Also, these devices cater to different pressure ratings. Companies should be familiar with specifications to be considered to acquire the proper equipment for their system.
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