Abstract:

Leak detection is usually accomplished by use of a real-time pipeline monitor, a computer software system that has continuous access to SCADA data for analysis. However, application of real-time leak detection technology to actual pipeline operation has often been unsatisfactory. There seems to be a general lack of understanding in applying leak detection monitor software both on the part of pipeline companies and software vendors. This leads to unrealistic leak detection expectations and dissatisfaction when the performance cannot be achieved. Hence, there is a definite need for more accurate evaluation of the feasibility and expected performance of real-time leak monitors prior to field implementation. Experience shows that the same weak detection monitor performs differently on different pipelines. Pipeline physical factors, instrumentation, and SCADA functioning clearly affect the performance of a real-time pipeline leak monitor. This paper discusses these factors, explores the potential use of pipeline simulation to study them, and shows how leak detection performance can be predicted before the system is actually installed. Using an example pipeline, the paper employs an interesting method for applying pipeline simulation technology to study these performance limits quantitatively off - line. Access to any suitably-equipped model software will permit one to study physics, instrumentation, and SCADA functioning for a given pipeline. Such analysis shows that each individual pipeline situation will impose different limits on the performance of a real-time monitor. The paper also compares simple versions o f the two most common leak monitor methods: mass balance and transient modelling. The authors feel that with further development, this technique can become an indispensible, cost - effective tool for studying feasibility and performance of a pipeline leak monitor prior to field implementation, thus promoting more realistic expectations, and help prevent misapplication of real-time leak detection systems.

I INTRODUCTION

Advances in pipeline simulation technology and computer hardware have allowed pipeline operating companies to derive increasing benefits from the field of computer pipeline simulation. better design pipeline facilities, control, and operating procedures. It can also be used as an effective tool for training pipeline operators. Pipeline modelling software helps engineers better design pipeline facilities, control, and operating procedures. It can also be used as an effective tool for training pipeline operators. Despite encouraging progress in these above areas, application of simulation technology to real-time pipeline leak detection has met with varying success. Industry-wide experience has shown that reliable leak detection using simulation technology is far from guaranteed, especially for complex pipelines. For many installed leak detection systems, field performance is Unrealistic expectation on leak detection performance stems from the fact that both user and designer of leak detection systems do not fully understand the problem at hand. It is clear that both system developers and procurers need more accurate evaluation of the feasibility and expected performance limits of a leak detection system prior to field implementation. This paper explores the potential of using pipeline simulation technology as a cost-effective technique to address these problems.

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