Challenges For Effective Leak Detection On Large-Diameter Pipelines

05-01-2023 Aesthetix

Pipelines are an inherent and important part of the oil and gas industry. Without them, the industry in itself is a futile option, as they can’t or won't be able to meet the demands of the market. Transportation of oil and gas through pipelines is considered to be the most affordable option. It is a secure method that enhances the safe delivery of substances and has very high regard when it comes to delivering products with maximum cost efficiency. To meet the laid-out expectations managed out of the pipeline system, it needs to match the ordeals that the different environments throw at them. One of the main disadvantages faced by the industry while transporting their goods through pipelines is the leakage of oil and gas, which can cause varied losses and even more dangerous hazards because of the same. 

Here, in this blog, we are trying to focus on the different challenges that can be overcome by using certain methods that make sure that pipelines are here to stay and remain the backbone for the oil and gas industry.

  • Gas Sampling Method: Gas sampling is a very common method used to determine the presence of methane or ethane using the flame ionization detector. The detector is either an integrated portable one or a vehicle-mounted probe. If there is a leak, the gas sampling technique is sensitive enough to detect even the smallest traces of methane or ethane. It is one of the most accurate methods, so the chances of the alerts being incorrect are fairly low. 
  • Digital Oil Leak Detection: The digital oil leak detection is done using digital sensing cables that have semi-permeable conductors that are protected by a permeable insulating molded braid. It also comes along with a microprocessor, which is attached to the cable connector and receives electrical signals through the internal connectors. If there is any type of leakage, the change in electrical properties of the cable can be detected when the liquid passes through the outside braid or the permeable braid and then moves on to the semi-permeable braid. The microprocessor can notify the monitoring systems, alert operators about the leak, and provide assistance. In addition to being installed as a pipe-in-pipe system, the sensing wires can also be buried underground next to pipelines or wrapped around pipes. 

Also Read: Data Centralization On A Single Platform For Pipeline Leak Detection Systems

  • Fibre Optic Leak Detection: A fibre optic leak detection cable uses a laser to help in detecting leakage which is coming outside of the pipeline. To get the result right a fibre optic cable is placed inside of the pipeline. This will help determine the temperature profile and also help in determining any changes reflected therein. The change in temperature is determined by the laser pulse. A change in temperature points to leakage and also aids in locating the precise area where the leakage has happened. Oil and gas pipelines can use this method for leakage detection. 
  • Acoustic Monitoring Technique: The acoustic monitoring technique uses variations in the pattern of the background noise. This helps find the leaks in the pipeline. The acoustic sensors are placed outside the pipelines to detect changes in noise levels at different locations. This helps create a noise profile and will help in the future detection of variations in the noise. When the noise deviates from the baseline of the expected noise level, then the alert for leakage is set off. The more acoustic sensors required to detect leakage, the longer the pipeline.
  • Real-time transient model:  This mode of leakage detection in pipelines is done using systemic principles of physics involving concepts like mass, momentum, and energy conservation. The mathematical calculations help bring in precise notations to detect the leakage and it helps in finding the interaction between flow, pressure, density, and temperature at each location along the pipeline. Leaks can be found in different situations, either transient or steady-state. The leak rates can be calculated precisely with the help of mathematical calculations.
  • Infrared Audio System: The infrared audio system helps in detecting issues like erosion voids, decaying pipeline insulation, subpar backfills, and subsurface pipeline leaks. Surveillance cameras are employed to detect infrared wavelengths that pick up when there is a leakage.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Pipeline Leak Detection System

  • Vapor sensing tubes: A whole-length tube that meets the length of the pipeline is put inside the pipeline. The tube can detect a leak when the gas, liquid, or vapor comes in contact with the tube. A small amount of the substance diffuses into the tube in case of a leak. 

Pipelines indeed make the transportation of oil and gas far easier and also provide the ability for the industry to function easily without any hassles. Technological advancements are being made to identify the issues plaguing the pipelines in order to provide timely interventions with no risky outcomes.

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