Beyond Leakage Detection 
Maintaining your social licence to operate is one of the most important activities a pipeline operator needs to be mindful of throughout the full operating life of a pipeline asset. A major potential threat to a social licence is an environmentally damaging release of product. Such leakages can be highly damaging to the environment, an organisation’s reputation and potentially life threatening. Quick detection, location and containment of these leaks are crucial for maintaining a good reputation among the public as well as being good for business. 
The optimal solution would be to remove the potential for leakages all together. There are steps that various organisations implement in a number of different ways to prevent leakages that occur as part of the normal ageing process of a pipeline asset: corrosion monitoring and inhibition, smart pigging with ultrasonic imaging, manual inspection and more. 
The most unpredictable and often the most damaging type of leakage are from third party intrusions which often happen as it did in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2017. A pipeline was suspected to have been struck with mechanical excavation equipment causing a later corrosion failure severing Auckland’s access to fuel for both motor vehicles and aircraft which grounded multiple flights until flow was restored 10 days later. In total 70,000 litres of jet fuel was released into the surrounding environment. 
Technology now exists where incidents and potential threats that occur around a pipeline are able to be detected well in advance of a potential threat to the pipeline. Fibre optic sensors utilising Distributed Acoustic Sensing are able to operate as leakage detection systems as well as having the capability to provide an ever vigilant layer of defence. 
As distributed acoustic fibre optic sensors act as a bank of microphones they are fully capable of sensing, detecting, locating and reporting the movement of excavation machinery around the pipeline corroder giving an accurate GPS coordinate readout of the position of the potential threat. 
In the event that one of these machines begins digging close to the pipeline the operator is provided time to get in contact with the landowner or permit holder in order to make them aware of the potential danger they may be posing to the pipeline prior the pipeline itself being struck. This prevents an incident that ends up in loss of production, a fine or a visit from the local television station. 
If you would like to know more about how fibre optic sensors can help you with your pipeline please contact the expert fibre optic sensing team at Hawk Measurement Systems. 
To learn more about the advantages of Fibre Optic Sensing, please contact Field Electronics on: 
Tel +44 (0) 1403 713772 
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