Sunoco Pipeline L.P. performs internal pipeline inspections by use of computerized inspection tools, known as smart pigs, to verify the integrity of its pipelines. The pig reference was coined as a result of the squealing noise that can be heard in the pipeline as the tool travels through a line. Each year a portion of our pipeline mileage is internally inspected as part of our ongoing Integrity Management Plan. We utilize various styles of smart inspection tools to assess our pipelines and ensure that they can be operated in a safe and efficient manner. The smart pigs inspect the pipelines for corrosion, dents, and other conditions or restrictions in the pipeline that may affect safe pipeline operation.
The data obtained from the smart tool inspections is utilized to develop a program of maintenance and repair activities. On board odometers on the smart tools provide location information on where to excavate and investigate potential repair areas. You may encounter work crews dispatched to a particular stretch of pipeline to perform site inspections and normal maintenance work. This work typically requires the excavation of the pipeline and investigation and repair of any identified problem.
On occasion this maintenance activity requires that we replace a section of the pipeline. To perform this work, the product is either drained from the pipeline or displaced to the nearest delivery location. The pipeline is replaced by welding in place a new section of line. The pipeline is then refilled with product and returned to normal safe operation.
We perform this inspection and maintenance work regularly to ensure that our pipelines can be operated safely for many years to come.