Technology Evaluation

UTSI has experience with numerous technologies that are utilized in the detection of product releases from pipelines. These technologies include traditional methods of detecting a product release by monitoring fluid flow and other characteristics, as well as methods available for the detection of the presence of hydrocarbons in the surrounding environment. Our analysis of technologies routinely addresses the benefits provided by each technology with respect to the potential reliability of each method’s assessment of the pipeline’s integrity, estimated detection time as a function of release size, as well as cost of implementation and maintenance. UTSI has extensive practical experience in weighing benefits of various technologies in order to identify the most effective solution, or combination of solutions, for meeting project goals.

Technologies that have been considered and/or implemented under UTSI’s guidance for liquid, gas and/or multiphase pipeline projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rate-of-change detection and volume balance
  • Pressure wave/negative pressure wave detection
  • Compensated mass balance leak detection
  • Fluid dynamics transient model-based leak detection, including deviation analysis and model compensated mass balance (MCMB)
  • Acoustic technology
  • Fiber optic cable detection methodologies (temperature and/or vibration sensing)
  • Trace element detection (sniffing)
  • Hydrocarbon sensing cable

Evaluation of each of these technologies includes consideration of the technology’s inherent applicability to any given project’s requirements, as well as methods of enhancing the benefits of a technology by various means (i.e. additional instrumentation, etc…). In the case of computation methods, the instrumentation complement is usually evaluated to determine if more closely spaced measurement sites offer performance improvements, or if new instrumentation offers enhanced sensitivity and/or reliability. Pipeline operator background and training are also considered in the selection of technology for any given operations center.

UTSI has had substantial involvement with pipeline operators, technology suppliers, regulators and industry organizations to establish reasonable expectations for available leak detection technology, and is a recognized expert in this area. UTSI has assisted companies in projecting theoretical performance expectations using API 1149, “Pipeline Variable Uncertainties And Their Effects on Leak Detectability,” and is the author of API 1155, “Evaluation Methodology for Software Based Leak Detection Systems,” which has now been incorporated into API 1130, “Computational Pipeline Monitoring for Liquid Pipelines.” UTSI has applied its understanding of computational pipeline monitoring, along with the corresponding API recommended practices, to evaluate and select applicable technologies for many pipelines operating under diverse operating regimes. In addition to the API recommended practices, where necessary, UTSI may also employ the use of off-line simulation models to further study and establish realistic expectations for leak detection performance. This is of particular importance for new pipelines since these lines do not have any operational experience to build upon for the assessment, as well as for studying the effects of very specific flow regimes, such as those exhibited in multi-phase or slack-line flow conditions.

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