Burgeoning energy exploration is driving the construction of pipeline systems for hydrocarbon transportation. For a variety of reasons, including renewed scrutiny on safety by regulators, this is also driving new practices and standards for leak detection.
Computational pipeline monitoring (CPM) systems use real-time information from the field – such as pressure, temperature, viscosity, density, flow rate, product sonic velocity and product interface locations – to estimate the hydraulic behavior of the product being transported and create a computerized simulation. With it, controllers can be alerted to abnormal operating conditions that might signal the existence of a pipeline leak. Different CPM methodologies provide different leak detection capabilities, so different methods, or a combination of methods, might be better applied to different operations.
Selection of the right CPM for a given company or given pipeline relies on the thorough evaluation of several factors, including pipeline characteristics, business objectives, additional risk factors and special safety concerns, such as proximity to environmentally sensitive or urban areas. New standards and industry initiatives provide tools to assist in this evaluation, ensuring the pipeline industry continues to provide efficient, effective and safe hydrocarbon transportation.