Pipeline Isolation for ExxonMobil in Italy Delivers Enhanced Safety and Reduced Costs

T.D. Williamson (TDW), a leading supplier of pipeline services and equipment, has announced that it has performed its first STOPPLE® train intervention operation on a pipeline in Europe. The operation took place in Italy at the SARPOM Raffineria, which is owned by ExxonMobil and ERG Petroli. The refinery is located on the border of the Piedmont and Lombardy regions in the heart of the Po Valley.

In preparation for scheduled line maintenance, TDW was retained in March 2009 by ExxonMobil to provide STOPPLE intervention services to ensure that a key hydrogen sulphur line could be cut, plugged and safely isolated without shutting it down. The only other alternative would have been to shut the line and production unit down, resulting in a complete halt in production, which was deemed unacceptable.

Pipeline securely isolated in just one day

Using equipment from the company’s base in Nivelles, Belgium, a team of TDW technicians from Italy, Belgium and the US commenced work on the intervention operation at 9.30am on 18 November 2009. TDW used a standard 660 tapping machine to hot tap the line, and one 6in simple position STOPPLE train double-block and bleed plugging system to plug the line. The operation was successfully completed at 4.30pm on 19 November 2009, in just one day.

Isolation creates safe working environment for scheduled maintenance

As a result of TDW’s experience and careful preparation, the line was isolated, creating a secure environment in which critical maintenance and servicing could be carried out. The fact that the line was isolated with a minimum amount of equipment and required only one fitting also meant that costs associated with welding and fittings were significantly reduced.

“We are extremely pleased that TDW’s first ever STOPPLE train intervention operation in Europe went so smoothly, and that ExxonMobil benefitted in terms of enhanced safety and reduced costs,” said Rutger Schouten, general manager, Europe and Caspian Region for TDW. “The success of this STOPPLE train intervention operation in Italy bodes well for us as we forge ahead with plans to provide this specialist service to pipeline, refinery and petrochemical plant operators throughout Europe.”

Building upon its impressive track record in the US, where TDW has carried out many STOPPLE train intervention operations for nearly every major operator, the company is poised to expand this service throughout Europe. Currently, TDW is in active negotiations with operators in the region to carry out a number of STOPPLE train intervention operations in 2010.

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