Last quarter we told you about new thefts detected in Europe and Latin America. Those successes have led to more product theft detection work. As we look for product theft, we are surprised by how many theft points we discover. In particular, Atmos is working closely with companies south of the US border to effectively detect and locate those illegal tapping points with an accuracy of a couple of hundred meters.

These attacks put much at risk, and it is urgent to quickly detect and plug these theft points before they cause a disaster. As most of these thefts take place at night, Atmos can use offices on one side of the globe to review data from the other side, so that our theft detection teams can issue daily reports faster on suspicious activities in the last 24 hours of operations. Customers search upstream and downstream of the theft locations reported by Atmos and in most of the cases locate some evidence of theft such as loose soil, petroleum odor, spilled product on the ground, a hose visible on the surface or even recent “road work” to cover up a theft valve.

It is a challenge for Atmos when we report evidence of what we now call a “ghost” theft valve. A “ghost” theft valve is a case where we see evidence of a theft on different occasions around the same location, but when the pipeline operator dispatches a security team, the team cannot find the theft point. In a recent example of a “ghost” valve, the Atmos Theft Net team reported suspicious activity in the same area four times. Each time the security team dispatched could not find the leak. Fortunately, the customer had confidence in the technology following previous successes in accurately locating thefts and persisted with the search. The customer team, determined to find the theft, dug out the earth around the buried pipeline at the reported location and found the theft valve. The prosecutor will use the Theft Net data as evidence in the case to prosecute the suspects found in the area by the police.

This theft detection story is a good example of the close collaboration and trust needed to find and eliminate theft valves.

Categories: Atmos product

By: Atmos International
Date: 15 April 2019