Transporters of oil products around the world are faced with many levels of risk and significant consequences associated with the loss of product from their pipelines. Perhaps one of the greatest of these challenges may be the intentional theft of product from their pipelines which frequently results in a very low level of product leak rate. Over time the financial loss from product theft alone can be significant; however the hazards associated with an illegal tap can have significantly higher consequences. This paper discusses the overall challenges faced by pipeline companies in controlling and detecting the loss of product under these circumstances and steps that can be done to detect these small leaks. The discussion will detail a technique that can be applied to an existing real time transient model leak detection system that will allow for accurate modeling of theft detection during steady state operating conditions.
This paper discusses a technique that can be applied to an existing real time transient model leak detection system that will allow for accurate modeling of theft detection during steady state operating conditions. Any leak event—no matter its size—will produce a decompression wave that will propagate longitudinally from the location of the leak that will subsequently register on neighboring pressure sensors. Reconstruction of this event solely from pressure sensor measurements can allow for accurate calculation of the location and origination time of the theft event or commodity release. Since this method does not rely on flow calculations to determine leak location, it is also ideally suited to determine leak locations of a pipeline during shut-in periods.