Leak detection in the pipeline industry typically involves the use of specialized equipment and techniques to identify and locate leaks in pipelines. This can include the use of sensors to monitor the flow of fluids through a pipeline, as well as visual inspections and other methods. In some cases, leak detection methods may involve the use of tracer gases or other substances to help identify leaks. The goal of leak detection in pipelines is to prevent the loss of valuable resources, reduce environmental damage, and ensure the safety and integrity of pipeline systems.
This week’s Pipeliners Podcast episode features our host, Russel Treat, reviewing a comprehensive list of all the episodes from the Pipeline Podcast Network that cover the topic of Leak Detection, how you can use the content as a resource to educate engineers and control room personnel.
This valuable resource provides approximately 7.5 hours of content that discusses the totality of leak detection, from various technologies, including software modeling and physical instrumentation, to how to build an auditable leak detection program and to comply with regulatory requirements.
Leak Detection Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms:
- Russel Treat is the CEO of EnerACT Energy Services, as well as the host of the Pipeliners Podcast and the founder of the Pipeline Podcast Network. Connect with Russel on LinkedIn.
- EnerACT Energy Services is a holding company of oil and gas technology and service companies. EnerSys Corporation is a frequent sponsor of the Pipeliners Podcast. Find out more about how EnerSys supports the pipeline control room through compliance, audit readiness, and control room management through the POEMS Control Room Management (CRM Suite) software suite.
- Check out Giancarlo Milano’s episodes on transient modeling, statistical models, negative pressure wave, rupture detection, and leak alarm response and training.
- Listen to Jason Dalton, Dan Sensel, and Kyle Miller’s episodes here.
- Here, Carin Meyer discusses creating an auditable leak detection system.
- Adrian Kane talks about practical applications of leak detection.
- Listen to Keith Coyle’s episodes here.
- Faye Cradit discusses how to apply the rupture and mitigation valve rule in this episode.
- Here, Roddy Ring talks about using drones to perform pipeline patrol.
- Listen to David Yoel discuss real-time data reporting using aerial drones here.
- API (American Petroleum Institute) has developed more than 700 standards to enhance industry operations. Today, it is the global leader in convening subject matter experts to establish, maintain, and distribute consensus standards for the oil and natural gas industry.
- API 1130 defines the requirements for leak detection in pipeline operations. API 1130 is incorporated by reference into the U.S. pipeline regulations in 49 CFR 195.134 and 49 CFR 195.444 for how pipeline operators should design, operate, and maintain their computational pipeline monitoring (CPM) systems.
- API 1175 establishes a framework for Leak Detection Program Management for hazardous liquid pipelines within the jurisdiction of the U.S. DOT (specifically, 49 CFR Part 195). API RP 1175 is specifically designed to provide pipeline operators with a description of industry practices in risk-based pipeline LDP management and to provide the framework to develop sound program management practices within a pipeline operator’s individual companies.
- 49 CFR 195 is minimum safety requirements for pipeline facilities and the transportation of hazardous liquids by PHMSA-regulated pipeline.
- PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) ensures the safe transportation of energy and hazardous materials.
- Valve and Rupture Rule is a newly updated PHMSA regulation. This rule establishes requirements for rupture-mitigation valves, such as spacing, maintenance and inspection, and risk analysis. The final rule also requires operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to contact 9-1-1 emergency call centers immediately upon notification of a potential rupture and conduct post-rupture investigations and reviews.
Leak Detection Full Episode Transcript:
Russel Treat: Welcome to the “Pipeliners Podcast”, episode 263, sponsored by Gas Certification Institute. Providing standard operating procedures, training and software tools for custody transfer measurement, and field operations personnel. Find out more about GCI at GasCertification.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, Bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time. To show that appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode. This week, our winner is Trevor Jones with Summit Carbon. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around to the end of the episode.
This week, it’s just me. What we’re going to do is we’re going to walk through all of the content that we have on the pipeline podcast related to leak detection, and talk about how you might be able to use that to orient, equip, train engineers, and control room people on leak detection.
Fundamentals of Leak Detection
Early on when we started the podcast, one of the first guests that I had on a number of times was Giancarlo Milano with Atmos International. We did a whole series starting with the very fundamentals of leak detection and walking through the different kinds of things that are done.
We started talking about transient modeling. Transient modeling is using software to build a mathematical model of the pipeline, and then model what the pipeline should be doing. Simply stated, you’re basically performing hydraulics and comparing the mass balance of the fluid moving through the pipeline based on what the model is saying you should be seeing, and comparing that to what you’re actually seeing off of the metering.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 24:
We talk in that episode a lot about the complexities associated with building and maintaining a transient model for leak detection. We also talk a little bit about where transient models come from. They actually started as a mechanism for doing pipeline design.
Then as they became more advanced, they started evolving to take real time data and use real time data to do real time hydraulic modeling of the pipeline. In the following episode, which was episode 25, we talked about a different approach to leak detection, and that’s a statistical approach.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 25:
The transient modeling approach, the complexity is in maintaining the math model. Whenever you change the configuration of the pipeline – you add a station, you add an interconnect, you modify some links of pipe and their diameter, you change the fluid properties in the pipeline – whenever you do that, you have to modify the model configuration to keep it well tuned to perform leak detection. In a statistical approach, it’s a little bit different. What it’s looking at is what is happening with pressure and volume over time, and then we’re doing statistical analysis to say, “This condition looks like something that might be a leak.”
Now the advantage of a statistical process is you don’t have to have as rigid a definition of the pipeline and all the details about its configuration, valve locations, pipe locations, pipe details, fluid details, etc. Rather, what you do is you build a statistical model and look for differences over time so they’re easier to maintain.
The flip side is, they need to be tuned. A statistical model, once it’s implemented you have to let that model learn over time, and then you have to do tuning. Both transient models and statistical models require ongoing care and feeding, if you will. In those two episodes, we really dig deep into the details of how those things work.
Then we move on. I moved on with Giancarlo. In episode 26 we talked about negative pressure wave. Negative pressure wave is a mechanism for listing either acoustically or monitoring pressure signals and seeing pressure waves as they move up and down a pipeline system.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 26:
Pipeline system is going to see a pretty standard pressure wave for a given fluid and for a given flow rate through a given pipeline section. If I introduce a leak, then that pressure wave is going to change because that fluid escaping the pipe is going to create a change in the pressure wave.
I’m actually going to be able to hear the difference. When I say here, I don’t mean like with your ear, hear like with instrumentation.
We talk about that technology, how it’s applied in the field, and how it’s used to detect leaks. Negative pressure waves require instrumentation in the field. It has the advantage of a high degree of accuracy and fairly precise location of a leak once it sees it.
That’s the basics of leak detection. Then in episode 27, Giancarlo and myself, we talk about rupture detection. This is kind of interesting. I’m going to come to this a little bit later, but leak detection is generally constrained when you’re using math models or computerized pipeline monitoring.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 27:
It’s generally constrained by the meter accuracy. To get a leak detection on a leak that’s less than one percent is very difficult because that’s starting to go inside the uncertainty of the meter. A one percent leak, while may be small in terms of total flow, could be a fairly significant leak on a large pipeline.
Leak Alarm Response & Training
Rupture detection is a different thing. Rupture detection is looking for a very large leak, and the idea is to catch that and detect it quickly and with certainty. We wrapped up this five-episode series talking about leak alarm response and training.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 28:
When you have a computerized pipeline model put in place to support leak detection, and you get a leak alarm in the control room, it’s very important that the controllers understand the process for leak alarm response.
Leak alarm response is challenging because these systems that detect leaks through software and through monitoring the real-time data feeds, there’s a lot of things that can look like a leak that are not, in fact, a leak. Changes in fluids in a batched system. Opening and closing of valves. Starting and stopping of pumps.
All those things can trigger a leak alarm without actually being a leak alarm. In this episode, we talk about what’s the process that once you get an alarm, what do you do? Then we also talk about what’s the training necessary in the control room to be able to do an effective job of leak alarm response.
Those episodes were actually recorded in 2017. While all the software vendors have continued to improve and modernize their tools, we were really talking about the fundamentals of those technologies and how they work. All that content is still relevant today.
That’s an important thing to understand. In addition, we created a bunch of links or show notes in each of the episode pages, and there’s a full transcript of the episode. You can listen to this content, or you could actually go to the website and read the content, or search the content.
It’s there to be used. It’s there so that pipeliners can go and use that for research, can grab it and use it to create technical or training content. Highly encourage you, if you have an interest in leak detection and want to know how it works, go back to that set of five episodes and listen through.
Computerized pipeline monitoring is one type of leak detection. The other thing we did with Jason Dalton, Dan Sensel, and Kyle Miller at Marathon Pipeline, we did a whole series of episodes on hydraulic modeling and other things.
Leak Detection Program Management
One of the things we did is we did an introduction to API 1175. API 1175 is leak detection program management. That’s looking at the totality of what you do for leak detection. Things like fiber optics, aerial surveys, cameras, all the different kinds of technologies. 1175 is really designed to say, “Hey, here’s how you do leak detection in totality.”
In episode 53 we begin to break that down, and we talk about how that’s been implemented in the engineering group at Marathon.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 53:
Then I would also mention that more recently, on the Pipeline Technology Podcast, episode 24, Jason Dalton was on with me and we talked in detail about the revisions to API 1130, which is computerized pipeline monitoring and API 1175, which is leak detection program management.
Pipeline Technology Podcast Episode 24:
Talked about how that evolved. This actually tees up another interesting subject in the context of leak detection, and that is building appropriate programs around leak detection, so that the leak detection program is auditable.
API 1130 is incorporated by reference in 49 CFR 195, which is the regulatory requirements for liquid pipelines. Said another way, leak detection implemented in compliance with recommended practice 1130 is a requirement for liquid pipelines from a regulatory perspective.
On episode 189, Carin Meyer with Atmos International came on and we talked about how do you build an auditable leak detection program using API 1130 as a basis? In addition to talking about the software and how it should be configured and what you should do with leak alarms, API 1130 also addresses all the things that need to happen in the system to ensure reliability around instrumentation, communications, and so forth.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 189:
If you look at this, if you organize this content this way, it builds on itself. I guess that’s the point that I’m trying to make. In episode 69, we also talked to Jason Dalton, Dan Sensel, and Kyle Miller about instrumentation issues and leak detection.
Leak Detection Instrumentation & Software
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 69:
This is a really big deal. Getting a good handle on your instruments, monitoring those instruments for proper performance, making sure they’re checked and calibrated, and picking instruments that have the right level of sensitivity and performance to get to the level of performance you need from leak detection is really critical.
It’s more to this than just getting the data in. You have to make sure that the instrumentation and the communications network that’s moving that data operate at a standard that supports the level of quality you’re looking for out of your leak detection system. That’s what we talk about in episode 69.
Then as a capstone about leak detection from a software standpoint, we had Adrian Kane from Atmos on episode 152 and he talked about practical applications of leak detection. Like how is it actually used? Where does it add the most value? We talked about that from an international perspective. Again, good content.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 152:
In addition to these episodes that are addressing the leak detection systems, we also couple other things. One is the regulatory framework around this, and the other is using image analysis and patrol for leak detection.
Leak Detection Regulations
I’ll start by talking about the regulatory frame. Keith Coyle, who’s an attorney with Babst Calland, and a perennial guest on the podcast, was on episode 151, and we talked about the valve and rupture rule. This was as the rule-making was getting to the point of final rule, about a year and a half before it actually came out as final. We were talking about the background, the PHMSA rulemaking, and what was going to be required of operators around the valve and rupture rule.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 151:
Then in episode 246 with Faye Cradit from Burns & McDonnell. We had a conversation about how to apply the valve and rupture mitigation rule from a practical standpoint. Taking the regulatory requirements and understanding where all they exist in the code, and what are the things that the pipeline operator needs to be doing in order to implement the valve and rupture rule.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 246:
Said another way, all this stuff around computerized pipeline monitoring, most of that only is it trying to look for ruptures, but it’s also trying to look for smaller leaks. Leaks in the 1 to 20 percent of nominal flow kind of range.
Alternative Leak Detection Methods
Where rupture detection is just finding something that’s looking at 30 percent or more of nominal flow and finding it quickly. Then we’ve also done a number of episodes, other methods of leak detection, particularly around aerial.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 180:
In episode 180 we talked with Roddy Ring about using drones to perform pipeline patrol. That conversation was largely around drones versus aircraft. In episode 215, we talked with David Yoel about taking the data that you get from any kind of aerial patrol, whether it’s drone or aircraft, whatever, and processing that data to provide real-time reporting for actionable information.
Pipeliners Podcast Episode 215:
So that your aerial patrols very quickly, not only do you just get the photography or the imagery, but you also get that imagery analyzed saying, “Here are the areas that look like they may need attention, that something could be going on.
If you look at all of those episodes that we’ve done since inception, it’s a total of 14 episodes. That’s about seven and a half hours of audio content, much of which is quite technical, and is really designed to help operators learn and understand what are the various technologies, how they are applied, what are the complications, all of those kinds of things.
I wanted to cover this because what I have found myself doing – I work in leak detection and I work in the control room – is referring back to these episodes, going to the content on the website, looking at the transcripts, and using that material to support reports, analysis, or other things I’m doing in the domain. It’s actually become quite a resource for me.
I also have the gift that if I have a question I’m trying to answer, I find some smart person and get them to record a podcast episode with me and often get to an answer or at least get pointed in a direction to do the work I need to do.
I would just encourage you, if you’ve found this to be of value, go to the website, start to look at this material, and see what’s there that might be helpful to you and to your team. Let me know. You can either reach out to me on LinkedIn, I’m pretty easy to find. Just search my name, Russel Treat.
I think you’ll pretty quickly find me. You can message me on LinkedIn. I respond to all of that generally within a day or two. Sometimes it takes a little longer if I got stuff going on, but I’m very deliberate and intentional about making sure anybody takes the time to reach out and ask a question, I do respond back.
You can also get to me through the Contact Us page on the Pipeline Podcast Network website. That works as well. I’d be very glad and very interested to hear what you are finding that’s helpful.
If you look at this information, you say, “I really need to know more about fiber optics. I really need to know more about some other type of specialized content around leak detection.” Let me know. If you know somebody who you think would be a good guest, that’s helpful, but it’s not required.
Let me know what you’d like to hear or learn more about in this domain, and I will take the time and find that person as a guest, bring in that expert, and have the conversation, and continue to work to create more content so that we can continue to educate through our conversations.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast and our conversation about leak detection and all the content that we have on the website.
Just a reminder, before we go, you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast, YETI tumbler, simply visit PipelinePodcastNetwork.com/Win and enter yourself in the drawing. If you would like to support this podcast, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast, Google Play, or your smart device podcast application. You can find instructions at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com.
If you have ideas, questions, or topics you would be interested in, please let me know on the Contact Us page at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com, or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords