The Industry Challenge:
Standard methods to detect pipeline leaks compare the measured flow characteristics in the pipeline with the expected operating conditions predicted using complex flow models to identify discrepancies that could indicate a leak.
These models cannot detect small liquid leaks due to limitations in the sensitivity of the instruments and instabilities in the flow conditions caused by transient flow conditions in the pipeline.
Pipeline operators have recently been challenged to find new technologies that can significantly improve the reliability and sensitivity of pipeline leak detection systems, especially for pipelines carrying liquid hydrocarbons.
Many different technologies are being promoted to fill this need; however, there are no standard test methods to reference and field trials are difficult to run due to the expense and the environmental challenges associated with releasing liquid hydrocarbons from a buried pipeline in a controlled manner.
How We Help:
C-FER constructed a large-scale leak detection test apparatus (termed the ELDER) to simulate liquid leaks around buried pipelines.
New testing procedures were developed for the ELDER to create “blind” tests so that pipeline operators can evaluate the performance of different technologies and vendor equipment.
The test results also benefit the technology Vendors as they are provided unique data describing the characteristics of liquid hydrocarbon leaks and how their technologies responds to the leaks so that they can tune or otherwise modify their product to improve the sensitivity and repeatability.
Computer models were developed to assess the performance of distributed temperature sensing systems under various operating conditions and cable locations relative to the pipeline to assist operators in developing specifications for deploying these systems.