T.D. Williamson Celebrates STOPPLE® Train Isolation Milestone

Do something 100 times and, chances are, you’ll know the task inside and out. Do that task 1,000 times and you have every right to call yourself an expert, worthy of trust. You might even find cause for celebration.

Recently, global pipeline service provider T.D. Williamson (TDW) celebrated its 1,000th STOPPLE® Train double block and bleed isolation. That’s certainly proof of an impressive expertise in a highly important technology, but what TDW is really celebrating is that its customers trust the STOPPLE Train system and the quality of TDW’s professional service with so many important applications. One thousand is a big number when measuring trust. In this case, it’s also a measure of TDW’s dominance in the method of pipeline intervention and isolation.

Depth of experience is impressive, but so, too, is breadth. What distinguishes TDW’s record in this field is that jobs have been carried out in so many different contexts. While the patented STOPPLE Train method has been used primarily in the transmission, gas distribution and gathering sectors, it has also shown its value in situations where refineries and subsea pipelines require reliable double block and bleed protection for their isolations. It has been used in countries around the world – in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions. With each passing year, the number of operators depending on the system has steadily risen and the geographic footprint has expanded.

Customer demand triggers innovative solution

The STOPPLE Train system was developed in 2008 in response to customer demand for a safer, more dependable, efficient and effective isolation system. At the time, the existing technology had an excellent safety track record spanning over 60 years, but there are always lessons to be learned and room for technological advancements. In response to the chorus of demand for improved efficiency, TDW worked hard to deliver what the industry was asking for: a dependable double block and bleed solution. While the first isolation using this technology involved a 6-inch STOPPLE Train, in 2009, TDW began producing larger tools and expanded its fleet of equipment for deploying them, largely in response to requests by North American operators.

Unlike traditional double block and bleed isolations, which use two plugging heads, requiring two fittings and hot taps, the STOPPLE Train system makes it possible to insert two plugging heads through just one entrance into the pipeline. A small bleed port is affixed on the line between the two heads. The bleed is left open and monitored, and any product seeping past the primary seal is pulled out through the bleed port to be removed from the line and safely captured or evacuated to a safe location. This simplified method means that costs associated with the purchase and welding of fittings are reduced by 50 percent due to the fact that just one set is required.

By reducing the number of line penetrations, STOPPLE Train technology is faster, safer, and leaves fewer appendages on the pipeline. It also reduces costs associated with fittings, welding, inspection services, scaffolding and crane rental, and requires fewer “hot work” permits. In addition, the STOPPLE Train system delivers the requisite high rate of first-time sealing success.

What matters is the one job

“The STOPPLE Train system is undeniably an impressive success story,” says Frank Dum, Commercialization Manager – Hot Tapping and Plugging Technology, for TDW. “The fact that we have now had 1,000 opportunities to demonstrate the worth of this technology in just six years illustrates what can happen when you develop a product which delivers exactly what the industry needs. While our customers were initially concentrated in the North American sector, word has clearly spread. In addition to serving our North American customers, we have been providing STOPPLE Train isolation services to customers in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Australia, Kazakhstan, The Republic of Georgia, Singapore, and India, among a host of others.”

TDW recognizes that customers don’t really care about milestones like 1,000 double block and bleed STOPPLE Train isolations. What they care about is their one job that must be executed now – in a safe, economical and dependable manner. They expect professionalism, expertise and, ultimately, first-time success on their job. Nevertheless, it is because TDW has been able to satisfy expectations on every job that the company is now able to celebrate its millennial operation. Satisfaction goes a long way.

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