Thermal Imaging Cameras for Pipeline Leak Detection

19-10-2022 Aesthetix

Evaluation and monitoring the functioning of hundreds of layouts of pipelines in the oil and gas industry can be a tedious and mundane task. The number of personnel that has to be employed for the same can be quite huge and will not necessarily yield a result, which can't be sufficient for getting an accurate result. Thanks to evolving methods in technology and the introduction of smart ways to find solutions, the newly adapted technology of thermal imaging gives a very clear and precise idea of the functioning and quality of the thousands of oil and gas pipelines. These thermal imaging cameras can easily detect defects or leaks in pipelines.

Pipelines are the heart of the oil and gas industry. It is one of the most popular and safest ways to transport oil and gas from one place to another. There might be unintended consequences and chances of leakages in the pipelines, and attending to them at the right time will help avoid further risks. The reasons for the leaks can range from human error during the maintenance process to sabotage, corrosion, and aging of the pipelines and their fittings. The most common areas where the pipelines can have leaks or issues will be control valves, pig traps, pig receivers, meters, and pressure gauges.

Delayed detection of the pipeline and its infrastructure can cause financial losses, environmental effects, and even damage to the human ecosystem. The late detection of such leaks can be detrimental to the entire systems and processes revolving around the transportation of oil and gas.

There are many ways in which thermal imaging can be used to detect pipelines:

Multi-Technological Approach

Pipeline operators are extensively using many methods that can help to avoid and detect leaks in pipelines at comparatively early stages. They intend to use the techniques that help secure the infrastructure from many potential leaks. The pipeline operators are trying to devise a system that showcases a multi-layered and multi-technological approach. The traditional approach to detecting leaks includes using manned or unmanned aerial remote surveillance systems. Different sensors are kept inside the pipeline, which can play a productive role in detecting any unwanted or potential leakages in the oil and gas pipeline. The technologies used are mainly to conduct surveillance checks on the main pipelines.

Camera-Based Detection

Thermal cameras are capable of detecting leaks in great detail. A fixed camera on unmanned pump stations is indeed a boon for working against pipeline leakages. The combination of visual and thermal camera detection and alerts, even on the smallest of fluid leakages and above-ground spills, The built-in camera helps in the avoidance of proprietary leak analytics, wireless connectivity, and automatic climate control. The thermal camera is set to analyze and alert on the changes in the temperature, as it might be because of possible leakage detection.

The parameters are set in such a way that when a critical condition is detected, the alert is instantaneously communicated with image and video generation to the pipeline operator.

Smart Analytics

Thermoelectric cameras do not just limit themselves to detecting leaks in pipelines using temperature change but also provide analytics in smart configuration. They can also detect leaks using smart video analytics; they track the movement of the liquid to understand the extent of the leakage. This promotes a very low-false alert rate on the same. There is a set algorithm that actually helps in precise detections. 

Also Read: How Drone Inspections Can Be A Game-Changer For Oil & Gas Industry

How does a thermal camera conduct a gas leak inspection?

Thermal cameras or infrared cameras use the technique of optical gas imaging, or OGI, to detect the presence of methane, hydrocarbons, and other gases during the inspection of oil and gas pipelines. It also provides the scope for reaching out to areas that are usually unable to be seen with the usual scheme of work. Optical imaging tools can easily provide the scope for determining a gas leak in a valve, coupling, or seal. It helps in the early ascertainment of leaks and protects workers from being exposed to the same.

As infrared cameras help with easy accessibility, it helps employees use them to their advantage for early detection of pipeline leaks. Infrared camera inspections of oil pipelines on a regular basis help you spot improperly installed components, monitor the lifespan of equipment so you can schedule repairs, and get ready to comply with regulations, saving you time and money. The invariable accuracy and speed of thermal cameras are one of the main reasons why they are being extensively adopted in the oil and gas industry.

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

Through the adoption of thermal cameras by pipeline operators, it provides the most effective and productive way to help in the easy detection of leakages. The early detection of leakages can eventually help in maximizing profitability, minimizing emissions, and improving the safety of the entire cycle.

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