Analysis of isolation plug incident
A major operator found that an isolation plug that was intended to stay in the pipework on a platform had broken free from its position and was thought to have made its way into the pipeline.
Concern was raised that the plug had the potential to travel through the pipeline as far as a critical wye piece. This could be detrimental as the wye connected the pipeline with another pipeline system transporting gas from another facility.
The operator asked us to carry out an assessment of the likely behaviour of the plug in the pipeline and in the wye piece.
We developed ANSYS CFX models to simulate the scenarios in the pipeline. From this, we determined whether the platform could be restarted without risk of pushing the plug from the pipeline into the wye. We also considered if the combined flow from the two facilities would be able to move the plug through the pipeline downstream of the wye.
We successfully calculated what the outcome would be depending on the position of the plug in the pipeline and gave recommendations on what strategy should be pursued to return the pipeline to normal operational capability.
Our expertise in providing CFD analysis allowed us to identify and recommend the optimum solution, without the need for building an expensive test model.
By using computational models, we provided a quick turnaround to ensure the client could resume operations as fast as possible, reducing costly downtime.