Oilfield pipelines see high demand and constant use, which can cause a lot of wear and tear on the structure. When you're new to the basics of oilfield operation, you need to understand the risk that this wear and tear can pose to your operation. Pipeline leaks can be environmentally damaging and may reflect poorly on your operation. The more proactive you can be about preserving your pipelines, the better. Grout damage, for example, is a serious concern. Here's a look at what you should know about pipeline grout and potential problems.

Pipeline Grouting Basics

With so many connecting pieces and joints to seal, oilfield pipelines are at constant risk of leaks. To keep those joints secure, many pipeline installation contractors use grout to seal the joints. The thing that you should remember, though, is that grout isn't a permanent solution. In fact, grout failures are a possibility. Whether it's due to damage in the grout itself or problems with soil erosion that caused the pipes to shift and cracked the joints, you'll need to deal with these issues immediately. Luckily, you can fix a lot of these issues by applying fresh grout to the damaged sections.

Pipeline Grout Failure Fundamentals

There are many different reasons for pipeline grout failure, though the resulting leaks are nearly always the same. One of the most basic causes of grout failure is poor composition or improper mixing of the grout itself. If it's not made properly, it can dissolve or weaken over time. Grout can also fail if it was applied incorrectly during the installation. These issues can be avoided if you work with a quality installation team when you have the pipeline installed.

The soil composition can also contribute to grout failure. When the soil in the area has a high limestone content, the erosion issues with limestone can lead to voids and air pockets in the soil. These can weaken the structural integrity of the entire pipeline placement. If you have a joint that sits directly over a pocket in the soil, there's no support beneath it. This can cause the grout to fail because of the pressure on the joint. This is a serious concern, because a leak from the pipes in limestone-rich soil can cause serious erosion and contamination.

In cases where you're dealing with this kind of damage, probe grouting is often the best solution. It allows you to get the grout application where you need it without excessive work.

Probe Grouting Process

To fix a grout problem or air pocket with probe grouting, the first thing you need to do is insert a small pipe into the ground by the crack. Then, you inject grout into the pipe so that it goes directly into that soil void or the crack in the pipe. In most cases, the process requires the use of a small camera that transmits real-time images so that you can watch where the grout is going. Once the space is filled, you can pull the pipe and camera from the ground.

Probe Grouting Benefits

The biggest benefit to using probe grouting for your pipe repair is the fact that it is minimally invasive. When you're dealing with something that threatens the structural integrity of the entire pipeline structure and the soil beneath it, you need something that will provide support without requiring extensive excavation. With probe grouting, you get the support that the pipe needs without having to dig up half of the field.

As you can see, although pipelines are not infallible, that doesn't mean that a problem has to spell complete disaster. With the tips presented here and the support of a probe grouting specialist, you can fix cracks and other grout problems with your pipes easily.