Distributed fiber optic sensing offers the ability to measure temperatures and strain at thousands of points along a single fiber. This is particularly interesting for the monitoring of pipelines, where it allows the detection and localization of leakages of much smaller volume than conventional mass balance techniques. Fiber optic sensing systems are used to detect and localize leakages in liquid, gas and multiphase pipelines, allowing the monitoring of hundreds of kilometers of pipeline with a single instrument and the localization of the leakage with a precision of 1 or 2 meters. This contribution presents recent testing results on controlled field trials. The tests demonstrate that it is possible to reliably detect oil leakages of the order of 10 liters to 1’000 liters per hour, corresponding to 0.01% to 0.1% of the pipeline flow. Tests were performed with small temperature differences between liquid and ground. The detection time was between 1 minute and 90 minutes. All simulated leakages were detected and localized to better than 2m accuracy. The paper describes the main parameters that affect the response time and detection volume, including the relative position of the leak to the sensing cable, temperature contrast and instrument performance. We also briefly report on relevant full-scale installations for the permanent monitoring of oil, brine and natural gas pipelines.

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