SmartBall is a radical new technology that has been successfully deployed in water transmission pipelines since 2004. It is now offered as a solution to the problem of leak detection in oil and gas lines too. It is a spherical acoustic device that travels through the pipeline propelled by the product flow and will detect the acoustic signature of any release of pressurized product to the environment (i.e. a leak). Its low cost, ease of deployment and the ability to immediately locate pinhole leaks to within a meter offer major benefits to pipeline integrity managers worldwide.
The paper discusses a number of case histories from the early deployment of SmartBall. The complexities of transferring the technology from a water environment to the hydrocarbons industry are addressed.