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Best Practice

SABP-H-004 20 February 2011


Robotic Coating Application
on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings
Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee

Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards


Table of Contents

1 Introduction.................................................... 2
2 References.................................................... 3
3 Definitions...................................................... 4
4 Coating Materials........................................... 4
5 General Application Requirements................ 5
6 Final Inspection............................................. 9
7 Repair Procedure........................................ 10

Attachments....................................................... 12

Previous Issue: New Next Planned Update: TBD


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Primary contact: Suller, Abraham A. on 966-3-8760223

Copyright©Saudi Aramco 2011. All rights reserved.


Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this Best Practice is to establish guidelines and recommended


practices in the use of robotic crawler technology in blast cleaning and coating
internal girth welds and cutbacks of straight pipe strings. It shall be used when
robotics are specified in the work scope and where it is applicable. It is not
intended on pipe strings with elbows, tees or reducers that could otherwise
impede the movement of the robotic crawler.

1.2 Scope

This Best Practice covers the minimum requirements of a robotic crawler and
other associated activities in the application of either a fusion bonded epoxy
(FBE) or liquid coating on the internal girth welds of pipe strings in the field
during construction. Only the field girth welds shall be coated since most of the
pipe including shop girth welds have been coated in the shop prior to delivery to
the site. The robotic crawler system of each contractor may vary, but they are
all required to accomplish a particular task to ensure proper coating application
and avoid areas of weaknesses that could cause premature coating failures.
This Best Practice allows the use of fewer machines and accessories just as long
as they are multi-functional, and enable the robotic to be lighter but still able to
perform the required tasks.

This practice also covers field girth welding procedures to produce an internal
weld profile that can be properly coated by the robotic crawler system.

1.3 Disclaimer

The material in this document provides the latest, most accurate and reliable
available robotic technology in the application of coatings on the internals of pipe
strings. It is provided as a general guidance and methodology for Saudi Aramco.
The use of this document does not absolve the designers and contractors of their
responsibility to ensure proper application of coatings. It does not guarantee
prevention of premature leaks in the pipeline, but minimizes the risk of premature
leaks. Potential and unforeseen anomalies and irregularities in the steel could
contribute to premature failures. This Best Practice should be used to increase
confidence in the performance of the coating. This Best Practice is intended
solely for Saudi Aramco projects and maintenance activities.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

1.4 Conflicts and Deviations

If there are any conflicts between this Best Practice and other applicable Saudi
Aramco Engineering Standards (SAESs), Materials System Specifications
(SAMSSs) or Standard Drawings (SASDs), the mandatory Saudi Aramco
standards shall prevail.

2 References

The selection of material and equipment, and the design, construction, maintenance, and
repair of equipment and facilities covered by this standard shall comply with the latest
edition of the references listed below, unless otherwise noted.

2.1 Saudi Aramco References

Saudi Aramco Engineering Standards


SAES-H-002 Internal and External Coatings for Steel Pipelines
and Piping
SAES-H-201 General Specification for Over-the-Ditch
External/Internal FBE Coating of Field Girth
Welds

2.2 Industry Codes and Standards

American Society for Testing and Materials


ASTM D1640 Drying, Curing or Film Formation of Organic
Coatings at Room Temperature
ASTM D5162-01 Discontinuity (Holiday) Testing of Non-Conductive
Protective Coating on Metallic Substrates

Swedish Standard Organization


SIS 05-59-00 Pictorial Surface Preparation Standard for
Painting Steel Surfaces

The Society of Protective Coatings


SSPC-PA 2 SSPC Method of Measurement of Dry Paint
Thickness with Magnetic Gages
SSPC-SP-5 (NACE No. 1) White Metal
SSPC-SP-10 (NACE No. 2) Near White Metal
SSPC-SP-6 (NACE No. 3) Commercial Blast

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

3 Definitions

Cutback: Area at both ends of a pipe that is intentionally left without coating to
prevent the formation of slags that could potentially cause contamination issues during
welding. The length normally ranges from two to two and a half inches.

Pipe String: Entire length of numerous straight pipes that are welded together in
preparation to pipe laying in the construction of pipelines. The length normally ranges
from 200 to 300 meters.

Robotic Crawler: A programmed or remote-controlled equipment that negotiates the


inside of pipes.

Robotic Crawler System: Includes the robotic crawler and mechanisms that it carries
such as blast cleaning equipment, coating application machine or testing
tools/instruments.

Real Time: Actual time of operation. Real time operation of the internal robotic
equipment is remotely controlled by an operator. Mounted on the robotic crawler are
adequate light source and a camera with excellent resolution to guide the operator carry
out his work properly. Using a video / telemetry non-umbilical link, the pictures can be
viewed by the operator on a monitor and recorded on a recoding medium.

4 Coating Materials

The coating materials shall be properly stored to prevent rapid deterioration of


properties. The two main coating types used are FBE and liquid coating. The particular
coating product to use depends on the suitability for service, availability and
applicability. It may vary from project to project, and should be specified in the Work
Procedure and/or Method of Statement.

FBEs shall be located in a place whose temperature does not exceed 77°F at any time of
the day, and its packaging shall not be left open. Prior to use, its moisture content and
gel time shall be tested to determine the acceptability of FBE.

Liquid coatings shall be stored in a shaded area. If there are signs of leakage in the
container, the coating shall be set aside for testing by the manufacturer. It shall not be
used without the written approval of the manufacturer.

FBE and liquid coatings with expired shelf life shall not be used without proper
sampling, testing and approval by their respective manufacturers.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

5 General Application Requirements

Pipes that will be internally girth welded and coated in the field shall first be internally
and externally coated in the shop. Single pipes are mostly girth welded together
forming double jointed pipes in the shop, and their girth weld areas are also shop-
coated. However, the cutback ends of the double jointed pipes are left bare in
preparation for girth welding, abrasive blast cleaning and coating application in the
field. When numerous double joints are welded together, they form a particular length
of continuous pipe called “pipe string”.

5.1 Handling and Cleaning Operations Prior to Welding of Pipe String

The pipes, mostly double jointed, are brought end-to-end at the site in
preparation for welding. Robotic crawler is not used at this stage.

5.1.1 The ends of the double joint pipes shall be covered with plastic sheets to
protect the bare cutback from chlorides, condensation and other
contaminants while the pipes are laying on the ground prior to field
welding.

5.1.2 If plastic sheets were not used or were removed, the cutback shall be
checked for chlorides content prior to blast cleaning. Any chlorides
content equal or higher than 40 mg/m2 requires sweet water pressure
washing.

5.1.3 If oil, grease or lubricant is present on the cutback, solvent cleaning shall
be done in accordance with SSPC SP-1 prior to blast cleaning. Do not
use kerosene, diesel or other degreasers that leaves an oily film on the
substrate.

5.1.4 Prior to field welding and stringing of double jointed pipes, the bare
cutbacks shall be manually abrasive blast cleaned to near white metal.

5.1.5 A rubber bung shall be used during abrasive blast cleaning to prevent
damage of good coating on the pipe body. The rubber bung isolates the
good coating from the ricocheting abrasive particles. To ensure removal
of the raised end of the coating (as a result of masking in the shop), the
bung shall be placed a quarter to half inch away from the cutback.
After blast cleaning to near white metal, the rubber bung shall be moved
one to two inches inward the coated area of the pipe and lightly blast
clean this coated area to achieve a “feathered” surface that will enable
good adhesion between the girth weld coating and pipe body coating
(See Figure 1).

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

5.1.6 Only Saudi Aramco approved garnet abrasive shall be used in the
manual blast cleaning. If there is a concern in the quality of abrasive,
samples shall be sent to a third party laboratory for verification.

5.1.7 No tape or adhesive should contact the bare steel to be coated after the
blast cleaning has been carried out. Also, plastic sheets shall be used to
cover the pipe ends and prevent corrosion on the blast cleaned cutback.

5.1.8 For tracking purposes, numbers shall be marked about 10 to 12 inches


away from the pipe end internal. A number, that is identical to the
internal, shall also be marked on the external side for back-up.

5.2 Field Girth Welding Operation

Welding is not normally performed by the coating contractor, but a good


welding quality is essential to ensure an acceptable coating quality. Since a
dedicated robotic repair is not incorporated with the internal crawler, the quality
of welding should be assured to meet the requirements of coating. In this
context, automatic or semi-automatic welding such as Surface Tension Transfer
(STT) technique shall be employed. The shielded metal arc welding technique
shall not be used on root weld passes.

5.2.1 The cutback ends of the double jointed pipes shall be inspected for the
presence of contaminants such as chlorides prior to welding. Any
contaminants that could affect the welding and coating application shall
be removed prior to welding.

5.2.2 Backing shoes shall be used during welding to minimize spatters and
avoid excessive weld penetration.

5.2.3 The maximum height of the internal weld cap or internal weld protrusion
shall be agreed upon by Saudi Aramco, coating applicator and the
welding contractor. Normally, 1.5 millimeters is the maximum height
that is allowed. Liquid coating can tolerate a higher weld than fusion
bonded epoxy due to the former's higher dry film thickness (DFT)
requirements.

5.2.4 The pipe strings shall be covered on both ends to avoid rusting at the
internal weld areas and cutbacks. Also, coating application shall be
performed within the same day of field welding particularly in offshore
and humid areas. If coating application cannot be done within a day, the
field inspector shall be notified in writing and action should be made to
prevent rusting.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

5.3 Robotic Blast Cleaning on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

After welding a number of double jointed pipes together, a pipe string is formed
(See Figures 2 and 3). It normally ranges in lengths from 150 to 500 meters
although it can extend up to a kilometer depending on the diameter of the pipe
and the capability and quality of the remote sensing device.

5.3.1 A video camera-equipped, remote controlled robotic abrasive cleaning


machine shall be sent along the internal of the pipe string, using one end
of the pipe string as the launcher. One objective of the camera in this
crawler is to make a quick evaluation on the height of the weld cap and
the severity of weld penetration. The camera shall also be used to
determine the presence of weld spatters or spent abrasive on the bottom
quadrant of the girth weld field joint area. The image from the camera
are sent to the monitor inside a control room or van via a video/telemetry
non-umbilical link, that allows the operator to make real time
observation and adjustments before the blast cleaning process.

5.3.2 The video camera and lighting shall be adjusted and positioned in a
manner to transmit clear and uniform image to the monitor. Work shall
not be allowed to proceed if the image is not clear enough for the
operator and Saudi Aramco inspector or representative.

5.3.3 The same video camera or another video camera on the same crawler
shall be used to align the blasting equipment to the girth weld.
The camera shall be positioned at a right angle to the girth weld.
If isotope probe is used as an alignment tool, a video camera shall be
used to verify the alignment on at least three girth welds for every string.

5.3.4 After verification that the machine is aligned correctly, dry centrifugal
blast cleaning can start. The regular air blast cleaning is not practical to
use because the volume of air and abrasive that it uses cannot be
contained inside the pipe string. To avoid damage to parent coating and
confine the abrasive cleaning to the cutback area, two inflatable seals are
used to isolate the cutback area.

5.3.5 The equipment and abrasive used for cleaning are centrifugal cleaner and
steel grit, respectively. The non re-cycleable type of abrasive is not used
because its large volume cannot be handled by the crawler. The steel grit
shall be replaced when there are too many fines to impact on the
cleaning process.

5.3.6 The main objective of centrifugal cleaning is the removal of weld flux
and smoke soot. Anchor pattern is not normally achieved in this process.
The cleanliness level may be affected but under no circumstances that it

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

shall be allowed to have a cleanliness lower than Sa 2 (commercial blast)


when the coating is applied.

5.3.7 The internal crawler shall be equipped with a vacuum cleaner. After the
centrifugal cleaning operation, the used abrasive on the bottom quadrant
of the cutback shall be removed and recycled back to the holding tank
that is installed to the crawler. To check if complete removal was
accomplished, the camera is used once again and focused mainly at the
6 o’clock position of the pipe.

5.3.8 Abrasive cleaning and vacuuming shall be performed on all the field
girth welds of a string, starting from one end and successively done on
each girth weld/cutback until the other end is reached.

5.4 Trial Coating Application

A pup piece shall be used when calibrating the robotic coating applicator.
The applicator shall be adjusted to meet the required DFT, uniformity and fan
pattern prior to its utilization on pipe strings. The pup piece is about the same
diameter as the pipe string but has about one or two girth welds only.
For economic reasons, the pup piece can be abrasive blast cleaned so that it can
be used numerous times.

5.5 Regular Coating Application

5.5.1 When all the internal girth weld areas in a pipe string are abrasive
cleaned and vacuumed, a video camera-equipped, remote controlled
coating robotic crawler is inserted at the launcher end of the string.
The operator uses the camera to pan and align the coating applicator to
the girth weld the same way as in paragraph 5.3.3. The camera is also
used to check for weld anomalies such as excessive weld penetration and
weld cap height. The complete removal of any rust, spatters and/or used
abrasive shall also be checked for the last time prior to coating
application. The presence of any of these anomalies shall be resolved
before any coating application.

5.5.2 In the application of fusion bonded epoxy (FBE), an induction heating


coil (See Figure 4) shall be used to heat the pipe to the coating
manufacturer recommended temperature. The use of other heating
equipment is not allowed. If induction heating coil cannot be employed
or is impractical to use, a specialty liquid coating shall be used instead of
FBE. Induction coil may either be in the form of clamp or flexible type.
The requirements for the specific FBE product in the Method of
Statement, Work Procedure or Scope of Work.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

5.5.3 For the application of liquid coating, heating of pipe is not required.
Rotary atomizer is normally used in the application (See Figure 5), and
mixing can be achieved with a static mixer installed near its sprayer
portion. Suitable coatings that can be applied in just one coat to achieve
the required DFT are utilized. The liquid coating specification and
schedule is specified in the Method of Statement or Scope of Work.

5.5.4 A robotic crawler designed for coating application and fitted with
integral cameras, shall be inserted in the launcher end of the pipe string.

5.5.5 The coating equipment shall be aligned properly using the camera as a
guide for the operator viewing the monitor on a real time basis. After
alignment, the operator shall trigger the coating application, allowing the
coating to be applied remotely and in accordance to the parameters taken
during trial with the pup piece. The application shall be done to achieve
a DFT of 15 to 25 mils or otherwise specified at a different DFT for FBE
coating while the DFT requirement for specialty liquid coating shall be
provided by Coatings Team/CSD. The risk of cracking in the coating
increases as the DFT exceeds the allowed maximum value. The DFT
shall match the uniformity requirements of SSPC-PA 2 in all quadrants.
The DFT requirements for FBEs and liquid coatings shall be specified in
the Method of Statement, Work Procedure and/or projects specification.

5.5.6 Post curing shall be performed with an induction heating coil at the
temperature recommended by the FBE coating manufacturer
immediately after coating application. Specialty liquid coating does not
normally require post curing.

6 Final Inspection

Quality control tests and measurements shall be carried out after the coating has cured
enough to withstand mechanical abuse to some degree. For FBE, quality tests shall be
done only when its temperature has gone down to 80C or below. For liquid coating,
quality control tests shall be done when it is dry through per ASTM D1640. In the
field, the hardness of the coating can be determined by applying a representative liquid
coating on a test panel, and checking if it is hard enough.

When the newly applied coating on all the field girth welds in the pipe string is hard
enough, another robotic crawler equipped with testing tools shall be inserted on the
launcher end of the pipe string for quality test. The test equipment/tools, which the
crawler shall carry, are mainly holiday detector and DFT gauge. Like the earlier robotic
crawlers, this testing crawler is also equipped with a video camera for visual inspection
and proper location of test area.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

6.1 DFT Measurement

6.1.1 A magnetic type DFT gauge, which is an integral part of the internal
inspection crawler, shall be used to measure the coating thicknesses.
It shall be aided with a video camera to check for anomalies in the
coating and weld numbers for tracking purposes. The DFT shall be
uniform, and shall be within the range specified.

6.1.2 At least one reading for each quadrant shall be taken on the coated
cutback on each side of the weld. This will give a total of eight readings
for each field girth weld.

6.1.3 The camera shall be used to identify and list the weld number where the
DFT readings were taken.

6.2 Holiday Detection

6.2.1 For every mil of coating DFT, a corresponding 100 volts shall be used by
the holiday detector.

6.2.2 The holiday detector to use shall be the high voltage type and has a
copper wire brush conductor. Also, it shall have a conductor holder that
can be rotated one complete circle (360º). (See Figure 6)

6.2.3 The wire brush conductor shall be wide enough to sweep the whole
bandwidth of the newly coated area in one pass.

6.2.4 The holiday detector shall be grounded properly on the launcher end of
the pipe string with the aid of a clamp. If the pipe end is coated, the
coating shall be removed to expose the metal and allow metal-to-metal
contact. The ground wire shall be flexible and thin but strong enough to
reach long distances without snapping/breaking.

6.2.5 If holiday is detected, the weld number is recorded and the field weld
coating is marked for repair.

7 Repair Procedure

Localized repair with the use of robotic crawler is not presently available although it
can be done within a few months if enough incentives are given to the contractors.
Presently, repair is performed by roughening the whole circumference of a small
diameter pipe string with the use of centrifugal blast cleaner. After roughening, liquid
coating is sprayed over the roughened coating whether it is FBE or liquid coating.

For large pipe strings, the contractor can go inside the pipe and manually perform a
localized touch up.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

After repair and when the coating has cured, holiday detection and DFT measurements
shall again be performed, but on limited areas.

Revision Summary
20 February 2011 New Saudi Aramco Best Practice.

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

Attachments

Figure 1 – Photo shows the cutback Figure 2 – A typical pipe string being
portion that was abrasive blast cleaned. prepared for the launching of a robotic
The lighter portion of the coating shows crawler
that it was “feathered” (roughened)

Figure 3 – Close-up of a Figure 4 – Induction Heating of


Typical Robotic Crawler a Pipe String Girth Weld Area

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Document Responsibility: Paints and Coatings Standards Committee SABP-H-004
Issue Date: 20 February 2011 Robotic Coating Application
Next Planned Update: TBD on Internal Girth Welds of Pipe Strings

Figure 5 – Photo Showing the Application Figure 6 – An Inspection Crawler


of Liquid Coating on a Clear, Plastic Pipe with Holiday Detector
with the Use of Rotary Atomizer

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