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Detection of Small Leaks in Liquid Pipelines Utilizing Distributed Temperature Sensing

[+] Author Affiliations
Shane P. Siebenaler, Gary R. Walter

Southwest Research Institute®, San Antonio, TX

Paper No. IPC2012-90144, pp. 733-744; 12 pages
  • 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference
  • Volume 1: Upstream Pipelines; Project Management; Design and Construction; Environment; Facilities Integrity Management; Operations and Maintenance; Pipeline Automation and Measurement
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 24–28, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute, Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4512-7
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Leaks from hazardous liquid pipelines can have significant impacts on safety and the environment. The detection of such leaks in their infancy is important to the overall integrity management of pipelines. The traditional means of detecting leaks on this infrastructure typically involve visual inspection or computational monitoring. However, such methods are often inadequate for detecting and locating small discharges that can result in damage to the environment. One potential alternative technology is distributed temperature sensing (DTS).

The analytical work in this paper details near-field thermal effects surrounding the pipeline, seasonal and diurnal impacts on temperature as a function of buried depth, and the impact of transient temperature response from batch product operations. The analysis demonstrated that DTS employed on a buried transmission line would be immune from many of these effects and would not generate numerous false alarms due to these conditions.

Laboratory testing was conducted on both Brillouin and Raman-based DTS systems; a total of four different manufacturer’s products were utilized. The testing characterized any limitations of such systems as a function of wetted length. The testing demonstrated that such technology could accurately detect small temperature fluctuations over distances exceeding 12 km (7.5 mi) to a location with a resolution of one meter. In addition to sensitivity testing of the systems, the automated alarm systems were tested to ensure that the systems could detect leaks without generating numerous false alarms.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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