The use of leak detection and location systems has became a common practice in the control rooms of pipeline operations, whereby operators are automatically alerted of a leak, and informed of its approximate location. Considerable attention has primarily been paid to leak sensitivity and leak detection time. However, this paper shows that in long pipelines the volume lost after a pipeline shutdown can be substantially more than what was lost prior to the detection. In very irregular altimetry, the drainage from the pipeline segment can represent a greater volume of spillage as compared to the spillage from the start of the leak until its detection. These volumes can be reduced by taking the appropriate actions. This work will illustrate the importance of having a leak contingency plan that orients the operators to take suitable actions that will diminish the volume spilled. A leak contingency plan is a detailed plan of recommended actions, for example valve closure and pumping shutdown, and the specific time sequence in which they have to be executed. The design of these plans was based on the use of hydraulic transient simulations of an actual 3000-km network in Argentina.

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