Resources

FAQ’s

General

Why Cokebusters?

Knowledge and experience at Cokebusters is unsurpassed.  Our founders began their careers in the 1990s, leading the very first mechanical decoking operations in North America, Europe and the Middle East. 

With patents in mechanical and intelligent pig technology, Cokebusters is the only company with the ability to deliver specialist decoking, inspection and expert consultancy in one combined service. 

As worldwide demand for energy grows and the landscape for cleaner energy evolves, the requirement for increased production efficiency and integrity assurance follows.  These objectives are at the core of our service; to find new and effective solutions to our clients’ problems.

Cokebusters continues to invest in new technology to ensure we offer our customers the finest service measured in quality, safety and time efficiency.

What is a pipeline pig?

‘Pig’ is a generic term for a device which can be propelled inside a pipe to carry out a variety of functions.  These functions may involve proving passage, unblocking, cleaning, or inspecting.  The pigs maybe simple mechanical devices or contain complex arrays of instrumentation (intelligent or smart pig).  Propulsion may be provided by fluid flow or by onboard power.

Does Cokebusters only undertake decoking?

Decoking is our foundation.  We also undertake: 

  • mechanical descaling of steam tubing in eg. OTSG/HRSG boilers
  • coke/scale cleanliness (removal) verification
  • other cleaning operations eg. on piping/pipelines to remove deposits, scales, sludges etc.
  • advanced water filtration
  • inspection using intelligent pigs
  • consulting support, particularly in regard of corrosion, integrity and assurance.

Our services have technology transferred and increasingly we clean and inspect other inventory, including transfer lines, loading lines and product pipelines.

Outside of the hydrocarbon sector we are increasingly engaging with other process streams and cleaner energy systems (renewables), including:

  • chemical process
  • utilities
  • power generation
  • solar steam
  • hydrogen
  • carbon capture (CCUS)

How transferrable is the technology to other industry/systems?

Our heritage is primarily decoking of heaters/furnaces and subsequent inspection in refining operations.  We have near 20 years experience of working for numerous operators in this field on a vast range of sites around the globe.

Cokebusters has already transferred its technology to steam generation packages and pipeline systems.  We are engaging in the wider petrochemical sector, midstream operation, utilities and renewables.

As we provide cleaning, inspection and integrity solutions to small diameter pressure containing equipment there are no real limitations to where we can work and in what industrial sector.

Please also refer to the prior question.

Business

Does Cokebusters work in conjunction with other service providers?

Yes.  There is evidence of this across our portfolio.  

Sometimes this can be a specific client request to support an incumbent operation, typically with our patented inspection solution.  

We may choose to strategically bid with another partner or provider as this may offer the best overall proposition for our customer.

Does Cokebusters sell or rent equipment?

As Cokebusters is a combined service business there is no particular motivation for us to sell or rent equipment.

There have, however, been one or two instances where we have supplied our pumping units and mechanical pigs to partner entities as part of a strategic market offering.

What are you doing to reduce your impact on the environment?

Fundamentally our business operations serve to lower the fuel usage and emissions of our customers, supporting their Stage 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) protocol commitments.  We achieve this by improving heat transfer efficiency, often dramatically.  Through inspection management we can assure the integrity envelop and reduce leak frequency.  Specifically:

  • The nature of our mechanical pigging operation means removed coke is captured within water for subsequent filtration and ethical disposal.  Other available techniques can be more polluting
  • Our new filtration machine recycles water, reduces use and disposal, especially in regions where this commodity is more precious
  • It is noteworthy that an increased frequency of cleaning can result in greater efficiency savings even when compared to the additional cost of service.  Cokebusters has direct evidence of this with some operations where the frequency of our attendance on site has increased
  • Our cleanliness (coke removal) verification service is a swift and effective way of assuring the process tubing has been sufficiently cleaned.  A poor cleaning operation can lead to a costly unplanned outage, a further blowdown of product and a second decoking operation – creating more disruption and unnecessary environmental load
  • Intelligent pigging is a more efficient method of inspection which lowers the cost of access, is much swifter, offers full pipe coverage and reduces risk to the workforce
  • Manufactured in-house, Cokebusters is currently developing an innovative engine and transmission design within our specialist machinery which is expected to reduce fuel consumption and respective emissions by some 30%
  • Our new head office is now fitted with solar panels which reduces our demand on grid electricity.  We have also introduced rainwater harvesting for our test loop

How do I become a business partner with Cokebusters?

We have established and maintain a number of successful partnerships nationally and internationally.  These can fall into several categories such as technical, business development or on the basis of project ventures and framework support structures.

If you are interested in exploring a business relationship and believe you have something of mutual interest, we are open to a discussion.  Please address messages to enquiries@cokebusters.com

How do you differentiate?

During our near 20 years in business, we have been pioneers in our niche industry.  Cokebusters has broken new ground in technology, which others have endeavoured to emulate.  We remain within the broad confines of our core business and do not dilute or distract ourselves.

Uniquely we offer a truly combined service.  That means all aspects of cleaning, verification, water handling and inspection are conducted by our own teams on site.  This removes the need for complex procurement or additional interfaces. 

We design, manufacture and maintain our own equipment.  This also allows us the freedom to modify design to suit new challenges.

How do you engage in remote locations?

Cokebusters has steadily increased the number of competent partnerships and alliances, globally.  As well as operations from our two primary centres we continue to increase our reach and engage locally.

Local engagement is not only essential from a language and cultural perspective, but it also serves to improve our responsiveness and lower our environmental footprint.

We are increasingly looking at ways to be more effective in the areas where we have our greatest workload and opportunity.  We have our machinery placed in a number of strategic international locations already which reduces the time and cost of our mobilisation.

Cokebusters is willing to engage in arrangements which cement such deployments in country and we have working evidence of this model already.

Operations

How hazardous are your operations?

Our presence on a site is not considered to significantly affect the risk profile of operations.  We work with site operations teams to safely connect at the equipment boundary.  We typically work with water (not gas) pressures in the range 200-300 psi and we operate at ambient temperatures.  

Cokebusters’ pressure equipment is annually tested and certified by a third party.

Once set up our operations are essentially self-contained.  All our personnel have annual medicals and are trained/certificated in accordance with ECITB safety training standards.  We follow a robust risk assessment process.

Many operational sites are, however, inherently hazardous by their nature.  We are often working in a turnaround situation meaning the area is typically hydrocarbon free.

Our occupational hazards include: working at height, objects at height, hot surfaces, electricity, noise, manual handling and ambient temperature.

Does Cokebusters provide their own equipment?

Yes.  The primary equipment item is our Double Pumping Unit (DPU).  This is a self-contained road trailer unit which is the nerve centre of our operation on site.  

Cokebusters designs, builds and maintains a fleet of some 20 DPUs which are globally dispersed.  We have a number of new machines in construction and indeed we are accelerating our builds as a result of our diversification program.

We have now also designed and built our own water filtration units.  We are aiming to build additional units in for international assignments.

Our own mechanical and inspection pigs are designed and manufactured in house.  We have approximately 45 different sizes of mechanical pig and manufacture stock daily.  Our inspection pig programming and analysis software is also purpose built.

Cokebusters maintain a number of patents on their machinery and equipment.  We are immensely proud to be groundbreaking with our innovation and design.

How is the DPU utilised?

The DPU has an operator control room, water tanks and independent high capacity engines, with associated water pumps and control systems.  

The unit has its own fuel supply and carries all the associated equipment including hoses, valves, launchers and tool kits.

Units are dispersed internationally in, for example: UK, Europe, North Africa, Middle East, America, Central and South America.  They are then deployed to site by road trailer and connected to the equipment and utilities.

What happens if the DPU breaks down on site?

Each job maintains a log sheet of any fault messages or comments.  These are collated and managed by our workshops.

Most interventions are handled by the on site team.  As Cokebusters builds its own equipment we are best placed to diagnose and repair.  Comprehensive tool kits are carried on each DPU and the team mix is designed to include mechanical and electrical competence.  On return to workshop more robust work may be required.

It is rare to experience major failure.  In such an event Cokebusters has extensive in-house workshop skills which directly relate to mechanical/electrical features of these specialist machines.  Such skills can be mobilised to site in prompt reaction to urgent demands.

What is the range of pipe sizes that can be cleaned and inspected?

Typically we work in the range of 2”-12” internal diameter.  We can, however, operate outside this range.

What is the benefit of baselining inspection?

Asset inspection baselining, especially during commissioning, provides the owner/operator with definitive and quantified knowledge of pipe/tube wall thickness.

Specified schedule tubing may not always be employed during construction and even if it is the wall thickness can be variable, as a result of tolerance effects.

The absence of such knowledge may result in a false sense of security and compromise the assessment of corrosion rates.  This may lead to unexpected and premature failure.  The same challenge is true during tube change out.

Can pigs get stuck?

Yes they can and for a variety of reasons.  Typically this can happen if there are unknown schedule changes in piping, excessive fouling or residual sensors left behind.  A fundamental part of the job is the assessment of layout from detailed P&IDs and/or site survey.

Our patented mechanical pigs are designed to be both flexible as well as sufficiently hard to perform their task.  We can modify the pig design to suit unusual systems.

Our patented intelligent pig design is uniquely single bodied to facilitate navigation.

If a pig gets stuck then the operator will deploy a number of defined routines to remove the pig.  In the event this does not work, there are other non-invasive interventions that can be performed.

What if there is no access to the pipe/heater?

Generally we work with a system ‘off-line’.  We typically require 300# flanges to connect to.  If such flanges are not available we may request spool pieces for transition.  If no mechanical joints are available then it may be necessary to break containment and have them installed, either temporarily or permanently.  We can provide advice and indeed support or solutions for such activities.

A Header Delivery System can be deployed for managing access through more complex manifolds.

Are there any configuration limitations?

Cokebusters uniquely operates in the smaller diameter range of piping systems.  We do not operate pigging in air/gas.

Pigging may not be possible with very complex manifold systems, unless extensive modifications are carried out.  A Header Delivery System can help but may not be a solution for every scenario.

It is essential to consider the piping circuit.  Normally we return water.  If return is not possible then other considerations are required.

Are there any operational limitations?

There are limitations on operational temperatures, pressures and fluid chemistry.  The pigs can operate in a variety of mediums, however, we need to assess the competency of that medium in terms of eg, corrosivity and flammability.  This is not just in respect of the pigs but also the DPU tanks, pipes, impellers and exposure to operational staff.

Can the DPU be utilised to assist chemical dosing?

It can and it has, however, there are limitations regarding corrosivity and flammability.

How do you manage language interfaces on site?

Cokebusters employ a number of personnel who speak a variety of languages.  Where possible we try to include these skills on our jobs.

Recruitment

Would you like to join our team?

We are currently recruiting for the following roles:

Cokebusters UK

Decoking Operator
Posted – 12th December 2020
Job Description
Enquiries to: ecowan@cokebusters.com

Cokebusters USA

Inspection Technician
Posted – 12th December 2020
Job Description
Enquiries to: rwilliams@cokebusters.com

References

ISO 14001

International Partners

Al Mousawi
United Arab Emirates
almousawi.ae

Technava
Greece
technava.gr

Arabian Tech Services
Oman
atsoman.com

Cis Gaz
Romania
cisgaz.com

TRC
Kuwait
ctrkw.com

Sepor
Italy
sepor.it/en

CR International
Columbia
CRInternational.com

TUV Rheinland
International
tuv.com/world/en

Soga Asia
Philippines
sogatech.net

Damar
Poland
damar.com

Affiliations

The Welding Institute
twi-global.com

University of Strathclyde
strath.ac.uk

Energy Industries Council
the-eic.com

Road Haulage Association
rha.uk.net

Research Centre in NDE
rcnde.ac.uk

West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce
wcnwchamber.org.uk

Videos

Mechanical Cleaning & Piping Inspection - Cokebusters

Mechanical Cleaning & Piping Inspection
Short CGI film showing Cokebusters process of decoking and inspecting refinery furnace tubes

Introduction to Cokebusters patented pigs - Cokebusters

Introduction to Cokebusters patented pigs
Managing Director, James Phipps, introduces Cokebusters’ range of mechanical and intelligent pigs.

Case Studies

Baseline
Inspections

Deploying Bespoke Pigs

Diametric Growth
Detection

Caustic Gouging

External High
Temperature
Oxidation

Internal Pitting
Corrosion

Descaling and Inspection Solar Steam

Steam Generation

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions

Need more information?
Speak to a member of our team today