Hot Tapping

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Hot tapping, also known as pressure tapping, is a way of connecting existing pipeline or vessels without needed to empty the connected section of pipe or the vessel. This means that work can then be done on the line without shutting down the entire system. Hot tapping can be done on pipes that carry water, sewage, natural gas, steam, chemicals, and petroleum products, and it can be done on pipes made out of any type of material. The operation can be performed on offshore platforms, gas production plants, refineries, and at any other location where a pressurized tubular system exists.

Hot tapping is the first step in line stopping, which uses a hole-saw to make a hole in the pipe into which a plugging head is inserted. It also allows pressure to be contained, vented, and removed from a live system.

Hot tapping provides a number of different benefits. It allows for simultaneous operations since pressure is completely contained. Work can be done on that section of pipe without shutting down other sections. The system is very modular, also, and can handle different applications. Hot tapping is limited only by the amount of pressure that has to be contained; this means that, if a way to contain the pressure is available, virtually any size hole can be cut into the pipe.


The flexibility of Hot Tapping is one of the reasons why many are choosing it as the way of working on pipelines. It can be fed manually or automatically, and hot tapping can be done on both surface pipelines and subsea pipelines. Several different power options are available, including hydraulic and pneumatic power systems. Drill lengths can be of variable sizes, and it's possible to bore a hole anywhere from half an inch to several feet in diameter. If necessary, even larger holes can be cut in pipes. Hot tapping is known to be a very safe and secure method of repairing or adding on to existing pipelines.

Generally, hot tapping is performed on material such as carbon steel, stainless steel, cement lined pipe, fibreglass, or plastic pipes. These materials can easily be connected to new sections of pipe. However, hot tapping can also be done on pipes made out of materials that can't be easily welded or sealed, including transite, cast iron, and carbon steel. This is done by using a bolt-on tapping or plug. In some cases, a custom made product may actually be necessary to connect the pipes.


If you're in need of adding new pipe or doing repair work on a pipeline but don't want to halt your entire operation or don't want to shut down even a section of it, hot tapping may be the perfect choice. It can be done on virtually any type of pipe system, and as listed above, it has many benefits over other ways of working on pipelines.

John Lee has been working in hot tapping and other forms of subsea engineering for many years and writes regularly for technical publications.

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