With the rising tide of oil production forcing existing pipelines to work harder, and more gathering systems starting up every week, an increase in the number of pipeline leaks was inevitable. Atmos systems continue to detect a record number of leaks this year. Here are a few examples for the past five weeks:

  • In early October, a pipeline leak occurred in a multi-product pipeline. The Atmos leak detection system alarmed the leak within 4.5 minutes. The operators isolated the pipeline immediately to minimize the spillage and contamination to a nearby river.
  • In late-October, a check valve leaked between a tank and a pump on a small crude oil gathering network with three injections points. The Atmos leak detection system detected the leak in 1 minute, triggering a warning when only 0.8 of a barrel had spilled.
  • A leak was triggered in a crude oil gathering network with over 15 injection points in late-October. The Atmos leak detection system signaled a dynamic leak alarm after 9 minutes with a leak size of 3.6 barrels per hour. The system detected the spill when less than 1 barrel of oil had left the pipeline.
  • A large crude oil gathering network with almost 30 injection points leaked in mid-October. The Atmos leak detection system signaled a dynamic leak alarm after 59 minutes with a leak size of 11.12 barrels per hour (<1% of flow rate) during transient conditions (more than 12 start-ups and stops of facilities).
  • An illegal tapping point was located after the theft alarm and estimated theft location were sent by the Atmos leak detection system. The accurate location estimate helped the operators locate the tapping point within a couple hours. The volume lost was less than 0.6 barrel before the alarm was generated.

The tragic accident on Colonial Pipeline’s main gasoline and distillates pipeline is a reminder of what can happen when a pipeline leaks or explodes. These leaks fuel the hue and cry of environmentalists such as those aggressively opposing the Dakota Access pipeline. Fortunately, Atmos customers continue to detect the leaks because they ensure that their systems are optimized, reliable and well maintained.

As the threat of a real pipeline leak grows, it is important to maintain your leak detection systems and train your team to act quickly and effectively. Atmos offers a range of maintenance and support services that can help you; including after-hours emergency support so that your operators need not make the tough decisions alone. We can act before you have to react.

Categories: Industry update

By: Atmos International
Date: 15 April 2019