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Oil & Gas 101

How smart pigs make pipelines safer

These ‘intelligent’ inspection tools help ensure pipelines are maintained so problems are fixed before they happen.

'Smart' and 'pig' are not normally two words that you hear used together in a sentence, but in the case of oil and natural gas pipeline monitoring they fit perfectly together. PIGs (pipeline inspection gauges) are an innovative diagnostic tool used by pipeline operators to “see” inside the pipeline to detect any abnormalities or weaknesses in the pipe. 

Smart PIGs are intelligent by design and equipped with a battery, a variety of sensors and a GPS system to map data when performing their inspections. A PIG is inserted into and travels through the length of the pipe collecting data on potential hazards including external and internal defects, corrosion and structural integrity of the pipeline systems. A key function of PIGs is preventing problems before they happen—for example, identifying early signs of corrosion so that repairs can be made well before a leak can occur.

This technology protects workers, reduces environmental impacts and protects the surrounding communities by preventing leaks or spills and reducing land disturbance. 

To learn more about pipeline safety and technology visit the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association website.

Infographic with information about smart pigs