Cold Cutting for 2013 Spring Shutdown

Tim at FirebagThis spring, I got the chance to participate in the 2013 Firebag outage with Fossil EPC. I was mostly working in the Hot Tap Division,operating cold cutting equipment to prepare pipes for the installation of new spool pieces. There was a lot of preparation to make sure the outage went well. Large parts of the Firebag installation were temporarily shut down to allow the modifications and repairs to proceed.Outages can be a very confusing and busy time for any installation.

Cold Cutters are used to cut pipe and bevel it at the same time, where flame cutting is impractical or unsafe. Since no flame or sparks are created during the cold cutting process, danger of fires or explosions is minimized. This allows cuts to be made where a torch isn’t allowed. The ends left behind can be precision beveled and ready for welding.The cold cutters themselves are portable pipe lathes that can be split in half, then reassembled around the piping and clamped in place. The cold cutters are driven by air motors, so access to a compressor is a necessity.

We were on site for three weeks, and everything went well. Our cuts were from three inches to eight inches in diameter, on extremely heavy walled pipe.I’m lucky to work with a great crew. Our supervisor did an awesome job of organizing the work, and the other technician I was with is a hard act to follow.

Hopefully I will be working at Firebag again in the near future. It is one of the safest installations I’ve ever been to, and they really do put a lot of effort into their safety programs.

If cold cutting is something that could be used at your site, please check into it further. You can click here to find out about Alberta Cold Cutting, or go to for more information.


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