Evaluation of Software-Based Early Leak-Warning System in Gulf of Mexico Subsea Flowlines
- Caitlyn J. Thiberville (Louisiana State University) | Yanfang Wang (Louisiana State University) | Paulo J. Waltrich (Louisiana State University) | Wesley C. Williams (Louisiana State University) | Seung I. Kam (Louisiana State University)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- November 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 802 - 828
- 2018.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- offshore pipelines, leak detection modeling, pipeline leak, pipeline leak detection
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 120 since 2007
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Early detection of subsea pipeline leaks is a very serious and ongoing issue for the oil and gas industry with limited successful cases reported. For example, aerial surveillance of pipelines can be applied only for relatively shallow and concentrated areas, and an advanced technology such as fiber-optic cable can be considered at the significant expense of time and cost for installation and equipment. The objective of this study is to evaluate a software-based leak-detection technique through complex multiphase flow mechanics. More specifically, this study investigates (i) how leak-detection problems can be formulated from a fluid-mechanics viewpoint and (ii) how reliable such a technique can be under conditions resembling the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In examining a wide range of scenarios, this study proves that software-based techniques have a potential for playing a key role in the future.
First, this study defines a base case selected from the literature review of deepwater GOM flowlines in terms of pressure and temperature conditions, fluid properties, reservoir properties, and flowline characteristics that allows a steady-state flow in pipeline to be determined with no leak present. Next, leaks with certain opening sizes (dleak) at different longitudinal locations (xD = x/L) are positioned, and new steady states in the presence of leaks are calculated. By comparing the two steady-state responses (with and without leak), finally, the changes in two leak-detection indicators [i.e., change in upstream pressure (ΔPin) and change in downstream total flow rate (Δqt out)] can be calculated in a wide range of input parameters. This study presents the results in the form of contour plots for pressure and flow responses.
The major finding of this study is that, theoretically, it is possible to estimate both size and longitudinal location of the leak with the two leak-detection indicators in the software-based leak-detection method. The results from various subsea flowline conditions [such as different gas/oil ratios (GORs) and fluid types, water depths, pressures at the receiving facilities, inclination angles, pipe diameters, water cuts, and so on] show that the reliability of this technique is improved when the sink term (i.e., amount of leaking fluid) is more dominant, which, in turn, means that leaks positioned farther upstream, with larger opening size, and occurring at higher pressure inside pipe are relatively easier to detect. In many of the scenarios considered, Δqt out as a leak-detection indicator shows more than a 10% change in the presence of a leak with dleak > 1 in., allowing relatively easier activation of a leak-warning system, which demonstrates the robustness of this technique. Other scenarios in which the indicators are less than a few percent changes, however, may be challenging—in those cases, additional responses from other methods (hardware-based or transient simulation) will be helpful.
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