ABSTRACT:

LOOP LLC's (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port) primary business interest is offloading foreign crude oil from tankers moored off the Louisiana coast through a 48-inch diameter, 45-mile long pipeline. Crude oils that enter the pipeline originate from all over the world and vary widely in temperature. In LOOP's control center, the pipeline controllers use a software model based leak detection system to monitor the pipeline operation. The model is based on the real time simulation of the flow coupled with a thermal model to simulate the heat transfer to and/or from the pipeline and the environment. The ground thermal model is a solution of the heat conduction equation in the ground around the pipeline. This paper discusses the thermal effects observed during implementation of a leak detection system on the LOOP pipeline, and how those effects were accounted for in order to maintain high levels of leak detection sensitivity. Introduction: The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP LLC) offloads crude oil from supertankers, pumps it through a buried pipeline into underground storage in salt dome caverns, and delivers it to refineries throughout much of the southern and mid-western United States. LOOP's facilities consist of a Marine Terminal located in the Gulf of Mexico 18 miles off the coast of Southeastern Louisiana, a booster pump station located just inland near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, and the Clovelly Dome Storage Terminal located about 25 miles inland near Galliano, Louisiana. The Marine Terminal consists of two connected platforms in water 117 feet deep. This water depth allows VLCC (very large crude carrier) and ULCC (ultra large crude carrier) supertankers with up to 90 feet drafts to moor at one of three Marine Terminal single point moorings. Up to four 6600 horsepower pumps offload the crude oil into a 48-inch diameter pipeline that runs a total of 45 miles through the Fourchon Booster Station to the Clovelly Dome Storage Terminal. The offshore portion of the pipeline is covered in concrete and buried on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The Fourchon Booster Station is located near mile 21 of the LOOP main oil line and provides up to four 6,000 horsepower booster pumps in series to boost pressure and flow rates to the Clovelly underground storage facility. The pipeline from the Fourchon Booster Station to Clovelly is about 24 miles long and is buried in marsh and soil. The Clovelly Dome Storage Terminal is the termination point of the LOOP main oil line. This facility also has four 6,000 horsepower pumps that can be used, if necessary, to inject the crude oil into one of 9 underground storage caverns. The caverns are filled with a combination of brine (saturated salt water) on the bottom and crude oil floating on top. The brine is displaced when injecting oil into the cavern. To overcome the static pressure of the brine and displace it, the pipeline must effectively pump oil "uphill" from a hydraulic standpoint.

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