It was designed for the oil and gas industry, but a golf ball-sized pipeline screening tool from a Calgary company is versatile enough for use in virtually any pipeline, making it yet another example of how technology developed primarily for the energy sector has a wider application.
Ingu Solutions began commercial operations only this year but is already regarded as a leading innovator of technology to keep pipelines safe. In 2017, Ingu won the Innovation in Technology award at the Global Petroleum Show and was named one of The Silicon Review’s 50 Most Admired Companies of 2017.
CEO and co-founder John Van Pol says while PipersTM, the name of Ingu’s product, can be used in any size pipeline, the company’s focus is on smaller-diameter installations of up to eight inches.
“The device uses miniaturized inline sensors to detect leaks, geometric defects and deposits that threaten pipeline performance and safety. It travels with the pipeline flow with no interruption of service,” he says.
PipersTM can operate continuously for 24 hours and can screen up to approximately 250 kilometres of pipeline in one session depending on the flow rate.
Most of the company’s revenue is currently generated in the U.S. Ingu was recently selected to demonstrate its leak detection and prevention technology for oil and gas pipelines in North Dakota. There are currently close to 27,000 miles of gathering pipelines across the state. Gathering pipelines tend to be of a smaller diameter not accessible to large detection systems used in larger-diameter pipelines.
When the North Dakota selection was announced, Jay Almlie, principal engineer at the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center, said Ingu was taking a novel and potentially quite disruptive approach to inline inspection.
“Their approach promises maximum control in when and how the devices are deployed, which is something industry is absolutely looking for. We are eager to demonstrate their effectiveness in narrow-diameter, highly networked, liquids-gathering pipelines in North Dakota,” he added.
Mr. Van Pol says Pipers™ eliminates the need for human intervention, reduce inspection costs, strengthen preventive maintenance, lower repair and replacement expenditures, and are small enough to reach areas that are currently too difficult or expensive to inspect.
“We are changing the economics of pipeline inspection,” he says.
And it’s not only the oil and gas sector that will benefit. Mr. Van Pol points out that Pipers™ can be used in virtually any pipeline including fresh and waste water and chemicals.
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