Bakken operator slashes
$1.7 Million in first-year OPEX with SureLaunch®

Is an automated pigging system worth it? While it’s not for every line, for the right system the returns can be huge. Here’s an example of how the SureLaunch® system transformed pigging efficiency and economics for one midstream operator’s Bakken pipeline system.

With remote distances and a liquids-rich natural gas line necessitating frequent pigging, this pipeline operator wanted to streamline its pigging program in North Dakota to maximize value for unit holders. The system in question is a 36-mile stretch of 20” line connecting a gathering system to a processing facility in Western North Dakota. The line requires pigging six times daily. Its manual deployment system required technicians to be employed full-time to make three trips up the line and back each day. In addition to the significant expense and crew utilization constraints, the region experiences extreme weather and is a hazardous place to drive five months out of the year.

Upgrading to a SureLaunch® system enabled the operator to launch up to seven pigs automatically at set intervals without a manual reload per single pig launch, which necessitated only one trip up the line each day rather than three. This was a significant upgrade which meant:

  • REDUCING PROGRAM OPERATING COSTS IN THE FIRST YEAR BY MORE THAN $1.7 MILLION WITH A PROJECTED ANNUAL OPEX SAVINGS OF MORE THAN $2.4 MILLION IN YEARS TWO THROUGH FIVE
  • FREEING UP 2/3 OF THE TECHNICIANS’ TIME FOR MORE VALUE-ADDED DUTIES
  • REDUCING CREW COSTS BASED ON OVERALL UTILIZATION
  • MINIMIZING THE PROGRAM’S CARBON FOOTPRINT THROUGH REDUCED DRIVE TIME AND LESS FREQUENT OPENING/CLOSING OF LAUNCHER AND RECEIVER
  • SLASHING DRIVER LIABILITY RISK AND HELPING KEEP THE TECHNICIANS SAFE BY CUTTING DRIVE TIME ASSOCIATED WITH PIGGING OPERATIONS FROM SIX HOURS TO JUST TWO EACH DAY

Get First Year Results
Traditional Pig Launching
vs. SureLaunch

Traditional Pigging Cost = $3.1M

SureLaunch® Pigging Cost = $1.4M

  • Slashed daily travel time by 1/3
  • Slashed crew utilization by more than $200,000 per month
  • Reduced drive time by 2/3

83%

Fewer Daily Pig Loading/Unloading Events

61%

Fewer Man Hours For Daily Pigging Operations

55%

Lower Cost For First Year Of Pigging

50%

Fewer Miles Driven Daily

Pipeline Profile: Liquid-rich natural gas / Bakken Region / Remote, Hilly Location with extreme temps

Traditional Operation:

Crew Commitment & Cost:
  • Technicians deploy from Williston, North Dakota
  • Launch six pigs per day down 36-mile line
  • Average drive time six hours daily
  • Technician FTE costs and expenses:
    $265,000 per month
HSE
  • Road safety and potential liability
  • Enterprise-wide carbon footprint
  • Technician health and wellness

SureLaunch® Operation:

Crew Commitment & Cost:
  • Technicians deploy from Williston, North Dakota
  • Load pigs once per day as opposed to six
  • Average drive time two hours daily rather than six
  • Technician FTE costs and expenses:
    $63,000 per month
HSE
  • 360 miles of daily drive time and liability eliminated
  • Reduction of manual launch-related risk

Figures based on:

  • 20" Pipeline
  • 36-Mile distance between launcher and receiver
  • Six pig launches per day
  • Using three pigs for manual launching and six for automated
  • Two-man crew at launcher and two-man crew at receiver