Pipeline risk mitigation in high consequence areas can be facilitated through the use of a high sensitivity external leak detection (HSELD) system. Such systems have been implemented for both off-site and on-site pipeline applications, including the Longhorn Pipeline (Texas) and the Madrid Barajas International Airport (Spain). We define high-sensitivity external leak detection as a leak detection system that will continuously and automatically detect very small amounts of liquid fuels and is physically independent of pipeline pumping operations. In addition, such systems monitor their own integrity on a continuous basis, without requiring periodic recalibration or operator interaction. The HSELD system we describe incorporates a distributed sensor cable, installed in a slotted PVC conduit which is run in close proximity to the pipeline. Many pipeline leaks start out as very small cracks or holes resulting from corrosion and wear. In their initial stages, such leaks go undetected by standard leak detection methods, but over time large volumes of liquid fuel may leak into the environment. In high consequence areas, such as above aquifers and other environmentally sensitive areas, the leak may go undetected until traces show up in water samples. The critical characteristic of an effective HSELD is its ability to detect and accurately locate very small volumes of liquid fuels, so that these small leaks can be identified, cleaned up and repaired before environmental damage is done.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.