Posted: 24 May 2018

Over 1,000 police officers took part in the nighttime operation last Thursday in Latin America following an illegal theft report by Atmos International.  In addition to recovering more than 25 large tanks of fuel stolen from pipelines, the military-style operation resulted in the seizure of almost 1,500 grams of marijuana, nine firearms, together with quantities of cocaine and crack.

Police, checking a pipeline product theft location reported by theft detection engineers from Atmos, found a truck loaded with the fuel tanks and saw the thieves flee the area.  The dragnet of police roadblocks set up to capture fuel thieves harvested a much larger haul than expected.

These mega-police operations are expensive to mobilize, and the government only authorizes them because they have confidence based on previous operations where the Atmos engineers and the pipeline operator have correctly located the illegal tap. This tap would have been hard to find without Theft Net technology as the high-pressure hose was buried under the highway and routed onto private property.

Product theft from pipelines is now an enormous problem all over the world. Organized crime is using modern technology to steal valuable material from hazardous product pipelines. In many cases, illegal taps are poorly crafted and leak product.  This damages the environment or, much worse, can cause a catastrophic explosion in a populated region.  Repairing each illegal tap is very expensive as the spilled must first be removed using foams and other products to neutralize and absorb the product. 

Atmos International’s innovative data analysis service, Theft Net, uses specialist engineers to interpret data collected from the pipeline to accurately locate the illegal tapping point within a couple of meters so the pipeline operator can dig with the confidence that he is exactly above the illegal tap. This latest success is far from the first.  Atmos engineers have been so accurate in locating the leaks that the pipeline operator trusts the detection reports and digs at the calculated location even if there is no visible evidence of the leak.  Collaborating closely with this pipeline operator, Atmos has already located over 70 illegal taps in the past six months.

“We have a lot of experience detecting and locating product theft from pipelines all around the world.” Explained the Operations Manager who leads the theft detection team in Latin America.  “We feed that experience back to our research team in UK, and team up with the development engineers to continuously improve the specialized hardware and software we use.  They build us a better mousetrap.”

Already a world leader in pipeline leak and theft detection for the past 20 years, Atmos uses that know-how to design more efficient theft detection technologies.   Several years ago, Atmos deployed this unique combination of hardware, software, and skilled engineering analysis on virtually every refined product pipeline network in the UK and reduced the number of thefts detected in the United Kingdom by 99% in just over a year.