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Proceedings of the 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference IPC2012 September 24-28, 2012, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Detection of Trace Hydrocarbons and Toxic Components in the Environment

Walter Knoblach AREVA NP GmbH Erlangen, Germany

Peter W. Bryce P. Eng. Brytech Consulting Inc. Delta, British Columbia Canada

ABSTRACT The risk of hydrocarbon and toxic spills increases with the aging of oil and chemical plant related infrastructure. The need for early detection of hydrocarbon and toxic chemical pollution is paramount, particularly in view of potential environmental damage, cleanup costs, and the loss of public confidence in industrys ability to quickly respond to leaks. Rigorous right-of-way monitoring, control of third party activities within proximity of pipelines, in conjunction with a robust preventative maintenance program is key to leak prevention. The first line of defense in the event of a leak is early detection and operational response to limit product loss from the pipe. Sophisticated mathematical modeling of flow regimes coupled with multiple pressure sensory relay devices in pipelines has increased the sensitivity of these leak detection technologies. However, despite these technological improvements significant leaks have occurred recently on major pipeline systems with damaging consequences. Operators are challenged to interpret and respond to leak alarms in the absence of corroborating information. Frequent false or ambivalent indications can foster complacency, and worse, inaction. The authors contend that reliance on a single technology for detecting leaks is imprudent and unacceptable in certain environments given the consequences of a late response to a loss of product from the line. Leak detection can be significantly enhanced by the application of molecular sensory technology in tandem with real time pipeline monitoring systems. The systems are synergistic and do not compete with each other.

This paper describes the development of the LEOS leak detection system, its application and operational experience in high sensitivity locations. Four distinct applications are described, including: an Arctic subsea pipeline, an arctic above ground pipeline, a river crossing, and a buried onshore pipeline right of way. In the latter, a situation is described where a hydrocarbon leak was discovered on an adjacent third party pipeline not directly monitored by the system. INTRODUCTION Contemporary leak detection systems rely on the ability to infer by measurement, mathematical flow modeling, and statistical analysis whether a significant amount of hydrocarbon liquid has escaped from a closed system such as a pipeline. Mass balance (meter in meter out) coupled with real time transient monitoring has become a sophisticated and exacting method for accurately inferring a leak condition in a real time flow simulated replication of conditions in a pipe. Many commercially available systems provide almost instantaneous monitoring
leak rate (logarithmic!)

in particular difficult for multi-phase flow!

= avoidable spill

0.5 - 1% (typ.)
factor 1000

days ~ weeks

detection of 1 L/h

detection by conventional LDS systems


Figure 1 Motivation for detection of low-threshold leaks

Copyright 2012 by ASME

with increased resolution as the time interval for sampling and data logging and analysis decreases. However, the inherent system signal to noise ratio cannot be improved beyond a certain threshold no matter how much the gain or sampling frequency are increased. Meter error and pressure transducer response ultimately combine to mask the detection of a very small loss of product from the pipe. The measurement, modeling, and analysis of flow conditions are further challenged if gas is present in the flow regime. Figure 1 illustrates the threshold limit of measurement systems based on inferring the loss of liquid from a closed system. If the leak is sudden and a relatively large quantity of leak component escapes the physical measurement of flow parameters is within the overall precision of the analytical flow and computational flow modeling. On the other hand, the vapor-sensing system is
Leak rate Rarefactionwave Mass-

The air quality is sampled in the ground along the entire pipeline on a daily basis and monitored for the presence of trace hydrocarbons from any source including the pipe. Many systems have been installed worldwide to-date adapted to a variety of applications which are all based on this patented technology. SYSTEM DESCRIPTION This LDS system comprises a small (10mm) diameter plastic sensor tube which is perforated and covered with a thin permeable but air-tight outer sheath (diffusion membrane) that allows most types of molecules to diffuse into the air filled tube and concentrate on its inside (Figure 3). The gas concentration is proportional to the size of the leak outside the tube. The air inside the tube is replaced periodically (typ. every 24 hours) during a sampling cycle, when the leak molecules are transported along with the air current to an electronic gas sensing module at the outlet of the tube at the MS (=Measuring Station) unit (Figure 4). As the air (and leak component molecules) passes through this module the concentration of the gas components is recorded and monitored for alarm thresholds. The presence and location of a leak is determined by measurement of the air flow and by timing the arrival of the leak indication compared with the time of arrival of a test gas spike (test peak) introduced into the tube inlet at the beginning of the sampling cycle. The size and spacing of the perforations control the sensing properties of the tube and are customized on demand. An outer layer of cross woven PE strips protects the inner tube from abrasion during normal handling (Figure 5) as well as serves as reinforcement in case of overpressure operated tube lines. In the beginning the air flow was moved by a suction pump on the tube outlet only, but with transition to longer tube sections of over 10 km an air compressor was also established on the tube inlet. Irrespective of the flow mode, the intake air is always cleaned and dried by filters before entering the tube. Additionally, a
Molecules of leak substance

RTTM systems


Vapor sensing tube





(1) example for pipeline with 80,000 bbl throughput per day Figure 2 RTTM vs. vapor sensing system applied outside of the pipe (or storage system) and is used to monitor for the presence of trace hydrocarbons or toxic components in the vicinity of the so-called sensor tube - in both gaseous and liquid form. A small weeping leak can be detected before it progresses to a more substantial loss of product to the environment. Flow based leak detection systems (meter in meter out) respond effectively to a rapid or sudden loss of liquid from the pipe. Figure 2 shows the increased overall leak monitoring performance on the lowest-leak-rates end when a vapor-sensing system is incorporated with a computational leak detection system. Hence, this technology can greatly reduce leak detection uncertainty. SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT The system was developed 35 years ago for a pipeline project in Bavaria, Germany. The environmental regulatory authorities were concerned that a conventional LDS would not be able to detect a very small weeping leak in a gas ethylene feedstock pipeline installed under the Rhine River in Germany. An alternative technology to RTM was developed (originally called LASP) comprising a small plastic tube (sensor tube) placed alongside the pipeline through which air is purged periodically.

Gas sensor(s)

Test gas injection

Pressure difference


Test peak window (for self-test) alarm threshold Tube position leak position = purge time x mean flow velocity

Figure 3 Diffusion Principle

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Leak Test Peak Generator

Sensor tube

M Measuring


Diffusion layer vapor from leak transported in air stream

Figure 4 Monitoring method small amount of hydrogen or specific test gas (such as LEL propane, butane, etc.) is introduced at the beginning of each purging cycle that creates a significant test peak. The arrival time and amplitude of this test peak is used to calibrate and self-test the fully automatic Measuring Station (MS) at the outlet of the tube line (Figure 6). Additional external gas analyzers for selective measurement of special leak components (such as CO, Cl2, etc.) may supplement the MS configuration on demand. The components for air

filtering, drying and test peak generation are referred to as the test peak generator (TPG) unit which is either a separate cabinet ( right-hand side) or integrated into the MS cabinet (if the sensor tube line starts and ends in the same location see also Figure 7). Based on this design, a single LDS subsystem (=MS+TPG) could monitor up to 2 x 25 km of sensor tubes, depending on sampling cycle time requirements. There is no typical air cycle time for the system since the time to evacuate the air from the tube depends on the tube diameter, the overall tube length, and a suitable air residence time (=diffusion time) in the tube. The latter can be a function of the type of leak components to be detected and the soil type surrounding the tube. A typical sampling cycle time is 24-hours which is usually based on the monitoring distance and associated purging time (typically up to 6-hours over a 10 km distance). This allows a diffusion time of 18 hours in the tube. The system detection sensitivity depends on the type of leak components being detected, proximity to the leak, and to a lesser extent on the type of soil surrounding the sensor tube. Diffusion is most effective in dry porous soils. If the sensor tube is in the pipe shadow, the migration (diffusion) time is attenuated by few hours depending on the pipe diameter and soil properties. In particular, the diffusion method works also when the sensor tube is installed in water saturated soil or even submerged in water. In such case, the leak components dissolved in water are extracted from the water phase by the sensor tubes membrane (Henrys law). Although propagation of the released components happens much slower than in dry soils, detection will happen before the contamination zone around the pipe would have severely expanded.

Perforated inner tube

Diffusion layer

Protective layer (braided plastic strips)

Figure 5 Three-layer sensor tube

Basic configuration

External gas analyzer (option)

Controller (PLC)

Pneumatic module Mounting frames

Air compressor

Gas cooler with liquid drain (option) MS with gas analyzer and gas cooler

Test gas bottle

TPG for pressure mode

Figure 6 Typical setup of a measuring station (MS) and a test peak generator (TPG)

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Sensor tube

Typical detectable components:

Leak rate thresholds Single monitoring length Location accuracy Sampling time System response

outside diameter 1516 mm inside diameter 10 mm static pressure 2.0 bar (internal) burst pressure 6 bar (internal) collapse pressure 8 bar (external) operating temp. -40 +65 C installation in dry/wet soil, ground water, subsea VOCs, crude oil, gasoline, halogenated hydrocarbons, alcohols, esters, ether, ketones, etc. Inorganic gases: hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, chlorine, ammonia, etc. Fluids < 1 liter per hour Gases < 0.1 cubic meter per hour up to 25 km (approx. 15.5 miles) Better than 0.5% of tube length 2 48 hrs, typ. every 24 hrs Automatic alarm, leak trend indication, leak product signature for positive identification.

material may be changed to PVDF material that is more suitable to bending in cold temperatures. In the case of arctic applications the PVDF sensor tubing was mechanically tested at minus 40 C for bending and tensile strength. The outer abrasion mesh remained the same PE material, as did the diffusion layer. Selection of the gas sensors and/or gas analyzers for the specific leak components plays also an essential role, as well as the corresponding test gas composition which should ideally trigger all installed gas sensor channels ( test peak). Another important consideration is to scrub the intake air to avoid potential contamination of the carrier air with pollutants from the environment (e.g. methane gas from farming, hydrogen from battery systems). Wetland Applications While the sampling air resides in the sensor tube, a small amount of water vapor can migrate across the diffusion membrane thus raising the humidity inside the tube. This is particularly relevant for sensor tubes submerged in water (river crossings, below groundwater table). As a precaution, the tube transition from underground to above ground needs to be heat traced and/or insulated to prevent clogging by condensation and ice-formation in the tube. The optional gas cooler shown in Figure 6 is also applied to reduce humidity before the air flow runs through the gas sensing module. Offshore Applications The design basis for offshore pipeline applications is currently limited to a pipeline length of 10 km at 15 m water depth. Current research and development suggests this can be extended to 25 km at up to 40 m depth. Design is feasible but not yet confirmed. The key design issues are avoidance of condensed water accumulation at the low points in the sensor tube ( clogging) and external hydrostatic pressure ( implosion).

Table 1 System Capabilities and Specifications DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS Topology The first design consideration is the length of the pipeline or facility to be monitored. Short distance applications can use two or more tube sections returning to the same location (Loop configuration see Figure 7). On pipeline bundles the return section can be routed back along another pipe. Two independent air sampling tubes can be alternately operated by one single system. The tube can be laid in many configurations allowing wide areas to be monitored. In the case of a long distance pipeline the route can be evaluated on environmental sensitivity and value before determining which sections should be equipped with sensor tubes. The only design limitation is providing an enclosure with power supply for the system cabinets. Single sections of more than 57 km (between enclosures) should be configured as Split with sample air flow in one way only (TPG MS). This situation would be similar to providing power and instrumentation to intermediate block valve installations. However, since the system is an air-operated closed sampling tube there are no limitations in respect to elevation changes and atmospheric air pressure and temperature along the pipeline track. System Components Some system components such as sensor tube, tube fittings, gas sensors/analyzer and test gas need to be evaluated for every particular application. For instance the standard PVC tube

2x TPG




2x TPG




Gas analyzers and computer

Test gas injection, air filters, (compressor)


Sensor tube Non-sensitive tube Air flow

Figure 7 Various System Topologies

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Interference with non-hydrocarbon components Some natural components such as methane, H2S and CO2 are very frequently found in the soil around the pipeline and need to be considered during system design. The infrared-based gas analyzer used by the system is completely non-sensitive to H2S and CO2, while cross-talk from methane into other hydrocarbon channels (e.g. butane, propane) can be effectively compensated. Applications in already contaminated locations If an existing pipeline should be retrofitted consideration must be given to the existence of significant residual soil pollution from a previous leak. As long as the background contamination is not close to the saturation level, the resulting background profile can be stored as a reference in the system and monitored for new indications above the reference threshold concentration of pollutant. Alternatively, the systems data acquisition may also provide long-term monitoring of contamination reduction during soil cleaning measures. OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS Reliability The system is designed as a self-monitoring black box system with a minimum of external interfaces (such as status contacts, Ethernet-based web interface). Any malfunction of critical system components (such as break/blockage of tube line, sensor failures, etc.) will be immediately reported. The system is idle for most of the cycle time ( diffusion phase), where a temporary failure of the hardware would not affect the monitoring process. Since the system also looks for slowly developing leaks there would be no significant loss in detection performance if the system were unavailable for a few days. A typical performance figure from installed systems is a maximum of dUD = 3 days of unscheduled down time per year. Preventive routine maintenance can in most cases be done even with the system in service (see next paragraph), this giving d PM = 0 days. This leads to a typical availability of

Functional Tests, Leak Simulation The system is an external LDS that detects leak components already released into the environment. This makes it rather easy to verify the system performance by exposing a short section of sensor tube inside a closed vessel to a defined environment such as e.g. a mixture of sand, silt, water and crude oil. Such a portable vessel is explained later in Figure 10. Another solution is to build a small diameter injection tube from the surface into the ground close to the pipe and to inject a certain amount of test gas (example see Figure 14). Some regulators even demand for an annual or bi-annual repetition of such an in-situ test as a proof for long-term operability. Multiple Leaks Although unlikely, the occurrence of two or more leaks in close proximity to each other will also be detected. If two leaks occur within the minimum spatial resolution of the system (= typ. 1% of the distance from the leak location to the MS) they will appear as one event, but will be discovered when the operator uncovers the affected pipe section. If two leaks occur with a distance that also provides two individual signal peaks, the system will identify these different leak locations as well. The aforementioned applies also to a scenario where an existing leak is followed some time period later by another nearby leak. In the worst case, the first leak was not yet repaired and the second leak increases the concentration peak, thus leading to a higher leak alarm relevance and an increased leak amplitude in the trend diagrams. CASE STUDY #1 NORTHSTAR SUBSEA PIPELINE During design of this 10km pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska the US Army Corps of Engineers had required the installation of an Oil Spill Leak Detection System being capable of detecting 32.5 bbl./day (= 200 L/hr) after 1 day. The system components had to be designed for installation at water depth up to 12 m (burial depth into seafloor 3.4 m) and at -46 C during construction, as well as for long-term operation of 15+ years in marine arctic environment. The vapor-sensing technology was selected as best available technology (BAT) because: It provided the required leak detection sensitivity, It provided leak location capability, It directly detects the presence of the leak component instead of inferring a leak, It is a field proven system, It has established an operating record (more than twenty years).

d DU d PM 3 0 1 99.2% 365 365

Preventive Maintenance The system components constitute additional hardware compared to the standard pipeline equipment, but the typical scope for routine preventive maintenance is very low and focused on Standard maintenance of computer hardware and database Replacement of test gas bottle and air filters (1 year) Recalibration of gas analyzer (1 year) Service on air compressor or suction pump (1 2 years) When scheduled properly, all activities can be done while the system is idle during diffusion time.

Copyright 2012 by ASME

sensor tube on 10 km subsea twin pipeline (crude oil & natural gas)

MS on Northstar island



TPG inside unmanned module at shore crossing

Figure 8 Case Study #1 Northstar Subsea Pipeline

Construction and Logistics Thirty-three coiled sensor tube in PEX bundles of 330 m each were delivered to Prudhoe Bay. For installation on the ice an insulated and heated sled was designed and fabricated with a custom designed uncoiling rig. This straightening device (Figure 9) introduced a reverse bend into the PEX armor tube so that as it exited the back end of the habitat the tube was straightened to its original manufactured geometry. The PEX and sensor tubes were strung out alongside the pipeline following welding, NDE and field jointing activities. Once the sensor tubes and PEX armor tubes were spliced together, the new section of tubing was pressurized to two bars to ensure pressure tightness of the splices.

The pipeline was installed as a bundle (Figure 8) with a With progress of welding of the pipeline strings the bundle polyethylene plastic spacer separating the oil and gas lines (10 spacers were attached to the lines and the sensor tube was inch each). The spacers were installed every 12 m (40 ft) with attached to the pipeline bundle as a continuous string. It proved the sensor tube in the twelve oclock position between the easy to handle and finally pull out slack once the final tie-in pipes. In between the bundle spacers, the sensor tube was strapwelds were made. There was no significant impact of the sensor ped to the oil line at 3 m (10 ft) intervals so that the backfill tube installation process to the overall time schedule of pipeline would not push down on the unsupported tube. welding or field jointing activities. It was apparent from the outset that it would be necessary to protect the relatively fragile sensor tube from mechanical damage during installation. Such a tube had previously been installed with a horizontal directional-drilled crossing (HDD) and so, the exposure risk was not unprecedented. The tube was inserted into a slightly larger diameter polyethylene pipe strapped to the outside of the pipe HDD pull section. Unreeling of protective Since the HDD project had been PEX conduit & sensor tube inside mobile shack successful, the same plastic pipe Completed pipe was proposed for Northstar. bundle on ice road PEX is a cross-linked polyover Arctic Sea ethylene pipe and is normally used for pressurized potable Sacrifical anode on pipeline water service. A pipe of outer diameter 50 mm and wall thickness 6.9 mm was selected with 4 mm holes spaced in a 20 mm square grid drilled into the tube Lowering of entire pipe to allow rapid (oil or gas) probundle into subsea trench duct ingress through the PEX Figure 9 Northstar subsea pipe bundle installation tube wall to the sensor tube.

Copyright 2012 by ASME

Length of subsea line Pipe outside diameter Pipe wall thickness Steel grade Coating Cathodic protection Max. water depth MAOP Max. Oil throughput Max. Gas throughput Table 2

2 pipe bundle 9.7 km (6 miles) 273.1mm (10.75 in.) 15.1 mm (0.594 in.) API 5L X52 (358 MPa) 1 mm (40 mils) dual layer FBE Aluminum bracelet anodes 15.2 m (50 ft) 10.2 MPa (1480 psig) 7,750 m3/day (65,000 bbl per day) 2,830,000 m3/day (100 MMSCFD)

These challenges had led to several modifications (such as filtering and catalytic combustion of the secondary gases) to the system since its start up in 2000 and were finally topped in 2010 by a change out of the entire MS cabinet from the traditional gas sensors to an infrared based gas analyzer. The main advantage of this gas analyzer is its insensitivity to H2, H2S and CO2, as well its ability of different concentration readings for propane/butane and methane. Annual System Proving As a condition of the US Army Corps of Engineers permit issued in 2000 the operator has been required to prove the system annually under the direct supervision of the Alaska Department of Environmental Protection Agency (ADEC). System proving is accomplished by simulating a small leak at the shore crossing which is the farthest location from the MS (Figure 10). A mobile stainless steel pipe ring filled with regional soil is saturated with sea water to simulate conditions that the buried tube is experiencing. A portion of sensor tube is placed inside this leak simulator ring and the assembly is tied into the systems tube line by means of a simple valve manifold. 1 liter of crude oil is introduced into the simulator after the end of a regular measurement and the correct detection of the simulated leakage peak with the measurement on the next day is measured. The intensity of the simulated peak is recorded as well as the calculated distance of the simulated leak source at the shore. This leak simulation test has been performed successfully for the past 11 years. Figure 10 demonstrates the test result with zero background (without any artifacts from natural gases) along the entire tube line and a clear indication from the simulated leak.

Northstar Offshore Pipeline Data

Test Peak Generator Termination at Shore Crossing Once above ground at the shore the tube runs into an unmanned equipment building where it is hooked up to the test peak generator cabinet (TPG). Operational Experience The system has been operational on the Northstar pipeline for more than 12 years. The biggest challenges in the early years of operation were the presence of numerous secondary gases (H2 from sacrificial anodes, as well as methane, H2S and CO2 from natural degradation processes) which were not all anticipated in the original design basis and initially caused artifact signals in the concentration profiles. Another aspect was to avoid ice formation and clogging of the tubes due to the high humidity in the received airflow ( heat tracing).

Test conditions:
2.5 m of sensor tube inside portable leak simulator exposed to 1 liter crude oil in sand, silt and seawater Diffusion time = 17 hours Integration to tube line at most distant location (10 km) Test results: leak indication (even clipped peak)

Leak simulator

blue = normal profile red = profile with simulated leak

test peak alarm threshold

Figure 10 Northstar Leak Simulation Test 2010

Copyright 2012 by ASME

GC-2 facilities


new oil transmission line with sensor tube inside V-channel

Figure 11 Case Study #2 Arctic oil transmission line CASE STUDY #2 ARCTIC ABOVE-GROUND SYSTEM After the 2006 oil leak on the oil transmission pipeline servicing the western leg of the Prudhoe Bay gathering systems the old oil transmission lines were replaced with new ones made of 20 inch diameter carbon steel with a 3 inch PU insulation. Additionally, the existing leak detection system was replaced by a more sophisticated flow measurement and modeling system. The field operator also agreed to install an above ground vapor-sensing system to the first 5 km section of the new pipeline. The system characteristics were very similar to the subsea system at Northstar, except the low operating

temperatures (down to -40C instead of +20C in the seafloor). Therefore the sensor tube had to be equipped with a different diffusion layer material for sufficient diffusion properties at -40C. In order to trap oil that must ultimately exit the insulation wrapped line a V-shaped channel was GC-1 strapped to the underside of the facilities pipe (Figure 11). The V-channel also contained a layer of oil absorbent material whose purpose was to prevent the oil from reaching MS the ground while sheltering the sensor tube from the elements and keeping the oil vapors in the vicinity of the sensor tube to allow diffusion through the tube in sufficient concentration to trigger detection. After pipeline erection in winter 2006/2007 the sensor tube and Vchannel were installed in spring 2007 from pre-manufactured tube sections of 165 m each with threaded tube fittings on either end. The system cabinets were installed and commissioned in June 2008 and an in-situ leak simulation test (similar to the one on the Northstar system) was performed in December 2008 during winter conditions with high winds and temperature of -30C (Figure 12). The system proofed to detect the specified 1 liter of crude oil per hour in the V-channel after a single air cycle of 6 hours with 14 m localization error on the 5 km pipeline.

Figure 12 Arctic oil transmission line: In-situ leak simulation test December 2008

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CASE STUDY #3 PRG PIPELINE The PRG pipeline in western Germany (north of Cologne) is a 45 km 8 inch diameter PE-coated buried pipeline that was built in 2008 and supplies several chemical facilities in the region with propylene (C3H6) gas (Figure 13). The environmental protection agency demanded a leak detection system capable of detecting a weeping leak. Two subsystems with two tube lines each were installed alongside the entire pipe as it traverses sensitive wetlands, watersheds and densely populated areas. The 4 tube lines are between 8 km and 18 km long, which is the longest single sensor tube line ever installed so far. They are operated with one cycle per 24 hrs in pressure mode, i.e. using a compressor at the TPG side to push the sample air through the tube line. In December 2009 the operator had to perform an in-situ leak simulation test in order to proof the performance of the leak monitoring. For this purpose a gas flow of 100 L/h of propylene gas was injected for 6 hours through a permanent tube into the
18 km

ground to the vicinity of the pipe. The first leak alarm with a clear indication came in after the regular measuring cycle one day later (Figure 14) and remained visible for more than 4 weeks until the propylene had disappeared in the ground. Although the pipeline has operated as planned in the first years the system has experienced three occasions when an indication warranted further investigation to determine their cause. The first event was the occurrence of several spikes in the hydrogen sensing channel (Figure 15 / top) that suggested small amounts of hydrogen evolving from the pipe, which was later on confirmed by the operators analysis of the sample air. The hydrogen was caused by several small holidays in the pipes anti-corrosion coating which - in combination of the pipelines cathodic protection (CP) system and the wet soil induced an electrolysis current. The affected pipe sections were exposed and the holidays repaired. The second event was a peak due to the evolution of carbon monoxide gas associated with a smoldering fire on a buried power cable in the vicinity of the pipe (Figure 15 / bottom). As soon as the cable was exposed and repaired the remainders of the combustion gas had vanished from the ground and the peak in the concentration profile was gone on the next day. Finally, the system detected also a real leak on a crossing third party C4 pipeline on a tank storage facility (Figure 16). Investigations by the operator showed that the C4 leak was pinpointed within 65 m on the 18 km tube section.


8 km


Rhine River


12 km

11 km


wet river crossing (500m)

Ruhr River

source: PRG GmbH

Figure 13 Case Study #3 PRG Pipeline

leak indication after 1 day

blue = normal profile red = profile with simulated leak

test peak

alarm threshold

Figure 14 PRG Pipeline in-situ underground leak simulation with propylene gas

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Flaws in PE Coating

coating (PE)

Cathodic protection (CP) system

sensor tube

indication in hydrogen channel

pipe (steel)


electrolysis current wet soil

flaw in coating

Power cable fire

sensor tube

indication in CO-sensing channel until cable repair

CO gas, etc.
damaged power cable

Figure 15 PRG Pipeline - Two special events detected

Dec 7th 2010: first leak alarm Sensor tube position = 15.30 km Pipeline position 33.50 km

leaking C4 pipe

65 m (= locating error)

0.35 % 18 km (= total sensor tube length)

source: Infracor GmbH

Figure 16 PRG Pipeline - leak detected on third party pipeline


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CASE STUDY #4 LIQUID CHLORINE PIPELINE The 2 inch liquid chlorine line is measuring 4.5 km long and crosses the River Rhine south of the city of Cologne, Germany in order to connect two chemical facilities. The design specification required that a leak should be detected within 2 hours before the carbon steel would be degraded by chlorine and water and a catastrophic failure of the pipe would occur. The main safety concern was a lethal threat to individuals on the public hiking & biking trail along the Rhine River right above the pipeline. To meet this requirement two sensor tubes were installed in parallel on the line in the year 2000. The river crossing was made of a pipe-in-pipe system where an existing larger diameter pipe was used to pull the product pipe and the sensor tubes through. The sampling air cycle time is 2 hours. Air is circulated through the tubes alternating every two hours thus providing the 2-hour response time. Since any leak alarm would automatically stop the chlorine pipeline particular focus had to be put on using a highly selective gas sensor that is exclusively sensitive to chlorine gas. Therefore, a special electro-chemical sensor was used in this application. Since periodic introduction of low-concentration chlorine gas as test gas is still against the safety regulations no test peak is visible in the chlorine-sensing channel. Instead the operator is testing the chlorine sensor on a regular basis together with other chlorine sensors in the plant. After commissioning, a chlorine leak was simulated in an underground test chamber to demonstrate the response time equal to specified regulatory requirements (Figure 17).

POTENTIAL APPLICATION IN GROUND WATER MONITORING The sensor tube may also be considered where there is a need to monitor ground water quality. Several vertical loops of sensor tube can be tied into a ring surrounding a reservoir thereby monitoring the water quality. It can be also used to establish a monitoring boundary or ring of defense around a potential source of ground water pollution. Once baseline readings are established any future indications will give advanced warning of the presence of pollutants before they spread more widely causing harm. CONCLUSIONS The vapor-sensing leak detection and location system is a mature technology that provides the ability to detect very small amounts of hydrocarbons and other toxic chemicals in the environment. When employed in tandem with mass balance real time transient monitoring systems it can lower the signal to noise ratio of detection significantly. The technology works for static systems such as tank storage, as well as multiphase flow regimes. The technology has been successfully deployed and operated in the extreme arctic subsea and above ground operating environments. The Northstar subsea pipeline system has been proved annually for 12 years as well as being independently witnessed by the environmental permitting authority ADEC. The system has reinforced the confidence of the pipeline operator in its ability to detect a leak year round. The technology is especially appropriate for environmentally sensitive locations where early leak detection is essential. Oil and gas drilling operations and their associated storage and transport are increasingly encroaching on wetlands and watersheds. Vapor-sensing leak monitoring can provide significant degree of assurance that spills are detected and cleaned up before they become a chronic cause of ground water pollution. Future and potential applications include monitoring shallow ground water in the viciniRhine River ty of industrial development to continuously bank monitor water quality and sense changing conditions. It can also be used to monitor underground storage of carbon dioxide resulting from emissions reduction at fossil power plants.

Residential area

Liquid chlorine pipe with sensor tubes

Leak indication after 2 hours

alarm threshold

Figure 17 Case Study #4 liquid chlorine pipeline


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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors wish to acknowledge in particular PRG and Infracor GmbH for their support and valuable feedback and for their permission for publication. NOMENCLATURE ADEC Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation BAT Best available technology bbl barrels CP cathodic protection C4 C4H6 and C4H8 hydrocarbon mixture EVA ethylene vinyl acetate FBE Fusion bonded epoxy GC Gathering center HCC Houston Contracting Corporation HDD horizontal directional drilling in inch km kilometer LASP Leak alarm system for pipelines LDS Leak detection system LEL lower explosion limit LEOS Leak detection and localization system MAOP maximum allowable operating pressure m meters mm millimeters MMSCFD million standard cubic feet/day MS Measuring station NDE non-destructive testing PE polyethylene PEX cross-linked PE PRG Propylenpipeline Ruhr GmbH + Co. KG PU polyurethane PVC polyvinyl chloride PVDF polyvinylidene fluoride RTM Real time modeling RTTM Real time transient modeling TPG Test peak generator VOC volatile organic compounds C degrees Celsius

REFERENCES Issel, Dr. Ing. Wolfgang R. J., Swiger, P., 1985, LASP A Leakage Alarm System for Pipelines, Pipeline Industry, June issue. Braden, A., Manikin, V., Rice, D., Swank, G, Hinnah, D., Monkelien, K. and Walker, J., 1998, First Arctic Subsea Pipeline Moving to Reality, Offshore Technology Conference, Paper 8717. Hovey, D. J. and E. J. Farmer, 1999, DOT Stats indicates need to refocus pipeline accident prevention, Oil & Gas Journal, 97:11. Alaska Arctic pipeline Workshop, 1999, MMS, C-Core, Anchorage, AK. US ACE, 1999, Final Environmental Impact Statement: Beaufort Sea Oil and Gas Development/Northstar Project, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, Anchorage, AK. Lanan, G. A., Nogueira, A. C., McShane, B. M., Ennis, J. O., May 2000, ''Northstar Development Project Pipelines Description and Environmental Loadings'', Proceedings of IPC, Paper No. IPC-0225, Calgary, Canada. Weyer, K.U., Hamann, C., Kaiser, H., 2001, "GASSYS: A unique in-situ and passive gas sampling system from unsaturated soil and from groundwater", International Oil and Gas Conference Zadar, Croatia Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Oil Effluent Systems, June 2009. Vatte Nalan, Sgar Aksay, Real-Time Surveillance and Monitoring of Pipelines, Schlumberger, 2010. Souza de Joode, A., Hoffman A. 2011, Pipeline Leak Detection and Theft Detection Using Rarefaction Waves, 6th Pipeline Technology Conference Genta, P. D., 2012, Real Time Transient Modeling for Pipeline Safety and Integrity Management, 7th Pipeline Technology Conference


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