Timely pipeline leak detection is a significant business issue in view of a long history of catastrophic incidents and growing intolerance for such events. It is vital to flag containment loss and location quickly, credibly and reliably, for all green, brown field critical lines in order to shut down the line safely and isolate the leak. Pipelines are designed to transport hydrocarbons safely; however, leaks have severe safety, economic, environmental and reputational effects.

This paper will highlight robust, reliable and cost effective methods, most of which leverage real time instrumentation, telecommunications, SCADA, DCS, and associated online leak detection applications.

The purpose of this paper will be to review the underlying Leak Detection business issues, catalogue the functional challenges and describe experiences with available technologies. Internal and External techniques will be described, including basic rate of change of flow and pressure, compensated mass balance, statistical, real time transient modeling, acoustic wave sensing, fiber optic cable (distributed temperature, distributed acoustic sensing) and subsea hydrophones. The paper will also describe related credibility, deployment, organizational and maintenance issues with an emphasis on upstream applications.

The scope will include leak detection for pipelines conveying various flowing fluids – gas, liquid and multiphase flow. Pipeline environments will include subsea and onshore.

Advantages, disadvantages and experiences with these techniques will be described and analyzed.

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