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Atmos launches products to assist leak detection in pipelines

Published by
World Pipelines,

Many of the recent pipeline leaks in the US use leak detection systems that either miss leaks or issue several false leak alarms, such that operators have no confidence in the systems. With this lack of trust in leak detection systems, pipeline controllers are often too slow to shut down the pipeline and call out the emergency response crews.

In Canada, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is urging pipeline operators to continue developing and maintaining programmes that are designed to discover leaks. This comes after AER examined nearly two dozen spills over the last three years. The regulator recently stated: “after reviewing 23 major spills on pipelines carrying mostly oil well effluent and produced water, it found poor training and a lack of monitoring led to delays in detecting leaks in about a third of cases”.

In the US, President Obama has recently signed the PIPES Act. This requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to update safety regulations, increase transparency and embrace emerging technologies. Pipeline operators are experiencing increased pressure from regulators and stakeholders to provide better leak detection on pipelines – something that was hard to achieve with conventional technologies.

The Atmos solution

In response to these needs, Atmos International (Atmos) has launched Pipeline Guardian, a line of software and hardware specifically designed to fill the gaps in leak detection and detect pipeline leaks faster than conventional leak detection systems.

The hardware options are ideal for use on pipelines where the absence of sufficient instrumentation, lack of power or poor telecommunications have previously inhibited leak detection. The Pipeline Guardian hardware is ideal for adding sensitive, reliable, and accurate leak detection on high consequence areas such as river crossings and environmentally sensitive ecosystems.

The Pipeline Guardian intelligent control panel collects, analyses and transmits leak detection data. It contains an onboard data storage back up to prevent data loss during communication outages and solar panels are available for sites that lack power. Data can be processed locally or sent back to the pipeline control centre for processing. Communication options include TCP/IP, line-of-sight radio, GSM and satellite.

The Pipeline Guardian clamp-on flow meters are customised for highly repeatable measurement when paired with Atmos leak detection software options. They require little flow conditioning, allowing for installation in tight spaces.

In addition to inexpensive, high resolution pressure sensors Pipeline Guardian hardware, options also include the unique Halo clamp-on pressure sensor. The Halo unit attaches to the outside of the pipeline, eliminating the need for pipeline tapping. Acoustic sensors are available to detect leaks by correlating the noise fluid makes as it escapes the pipeline.

    The leak detection software modules are:
  • Intelligent flow balance
  • Negative pressure wave
  • Dynamic pressure and flow rate modelling
  • Acoustic noise correlation

Pipeline Guardian is a turn-key solution for secondary leak detection systems in high consequence areas. Pipeline Guardian hardware can also be strategically placed to isolate pipeline sections prone to column separation, allowing optimal threshold settings on both the tight and the slack sections of a pipeline. The addition of Pipeline Guardian hardware and software can improve leak detection sensitivity by as much as 50% on pipelines, and cut detection time down to minutes.

Adapted from press release by Anna Nicklin

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