Pipeline Leak Detection and Condition Monitoring

Once a pipeline is buried, what happens to, and around it, remains its secret until it is visually inspected. Over time, the environment changes, the pipeline itself may suffer corrosion or third-party damage, tiny imperfections may develop into threats.

A fiber optic cable buried in the trench with the pipeline can detect incipient leaks and events which may be precursors to failure. In addition, changes in flow are apparent, where these result in the temperature around the pipe to fluctuate.

  • Is there a leak? If so, where?
  • Where is the pipeline likely to leak?
  • What temperature events require investigation?
  • Is the trace-heating on the pipeline working?
  • Contact us
Monitoring pipelines

Monitoring the temperature continuously, in real time, all along the pipeline using a fiber optic sensing cable gives precious insight into what may be happening. An evolving cold spot may be a gas leak or cold water entering the trench, a hotspot may be leaking oil or hot water.

Fiber Optic Temperature Sensing detects and locates temperature changes of a few degrees, over the length of the pipeline to be monitored. A single interrogator can monitor 25 miles (40 km) of pipeline. Alarm thresholds and different alarm types can be set independently in different zones to balance sensitivity with the likelihood of false alarms, helping ensure appropriate action when alarms are notified.

To ensure that trace heating is working all along the pipeline, the fiber optic sensing cable is deployed within the insulation. Any hot or cold spots are detected and located. If these exceed alarm thresholds anywhere along the pipe, an alarm will be raised, which can be sent to SCADA or DCS.

Installation of the fiber optic sensing cable

Where the sensing cable is installed depends on the contents and structure of the pipe.

As a simple example, on a gas pipeline, the sensing cable is placed above it; for a hot water pipeline, the cable is placed in one of the bottom corners of the trench. The best installation configuration is decided between the pipeline engineer, the installer and Marmon Sensing Solutions, to ensure the efficiency of the system for each project. Contact us.

Download the Technical Information Sheet on Leak detection for pipelines and plant

In areas where the there is a risk of third party damage, an intrusion detection system, based on Fiber Optic Distributed Acoustic sensing is available. Read more about intrusion detection