The Atmos system detected a theft even though the pipeline was running at a lower flow rate than normal.

Thieves do not rest, not even during the holidays. At 18:34 on 6 December 2016 our client, who operates a 60 km long crude oil pipeline that runs through a remote area, received a leak alarm from their Atmos Wave (rarefaction-wave-based) leak detection system.

A security team dispatched to the location provided by the Atmos Wave system found 11 plastic bags of crude oil, each wrapped in woven cloth. With support from the local law enforcement authorities, they stopped the ongoing operation and retrieved all the stolen product. The oil company quickly cleaned up the area polluted by the thieves, minimizing environmental damage.

This is only one example of the many thefts being detected by Atmos systems around the world. Pipeline theft not only causes financial and environmental damage but also puts pipeline workers and neighbors at risk. We are proud that Atmos is making a difference.

Technical details:

  • The pipeline diameter is 8" and the 1/2" illegal valve was connected to a ½” rubber hose
  • The leak size was between 0.6% and 1.7% of the nominal flow
  • The pipeline has a history of difficult operational patterns including; oscillations from PD pumps, and slack sections


Article written in collaboration with: Luis Sánchez, Senior Atmos Engineer.

By: Atmos International
Date: 11 October 2019