Atmos International has developed an analysis service to protect pipelines from unauthorised withdrawals that can result in loss of product, costly repairs, and increase the risk of a catastrophic accident.
The company says that the service, Theft Net, is able to detect and locate unauthorised activities on a pipeline.
Theft Net combines fixed and portable hardware solutions that collect and analyse pipeline data. The data that are collected are analysed by experienced engineers trained in the latest theft-detection techniques to reduce the error in site location down to metres.
The human element adds superior accuracy, while maintaining highly sensitive detection equipment without the distraction of false alarms. Atmos International says that Theft Net is already saving pipeline operators time and money, and helping to capture and convict criminals that attack pipelines.
According to Atmos International, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems lack the ability to ‘see’ theft events with the same level of accuracy as leak events, because theft events usually involve smaller amounts of product losses. Standard sensors on most pipelines can detect leaks as small as 0.5 per cent, which is of little use when the majority of theft events are less than 0.3 per cent of the nominal flow rate.
Theft Net can detect and locate a theft to within 5 m for product losses, as small as 0.1 per cent of the nominal flow rate, in static or running conditions. It has even detected the theft of samples as small as 10-20 l of product during static conditions.
Atmos International’s skilled engineers apply unique analysis techniques to data from existing pressure sensors and SCADA data to see critical changes invisible to the SCADA system, and report the times and locations of illicit tapping points. A number of theft-detection hardware solutions, which use intrusive and non-intrusive hardware, are also available for leak-location accuracy.
Portable data logger
The portable, autonomous data logger can be deployed to collect pressure and flow data on a pipeline where a leak or theft is suspected. The Theft Net engineer is then able to quickly analyse the offline data, before sending a report to the customer. Pipeline entropy and instrument uncertainty can cause false alarms when the threshold of an online system is set to find very small leaks. The Theft Net analysis removes these false alarms, allowing for the detection and location of very small losses.
It is an effective way to quickly search for illicit connections, and to estimate the potential performance of a permanent leak-detection system on a pipeline. Atmos International is using this equipment to detect illegal tapping points on a number of pipelines in the UK and around
Odin is a battery-powered, offline data acquisition unit designed to find pipeline product theft in locations with no power or communications. This ATEX-designed unit (approval pending) is small and inconspicuous, and can be easily installed underground, at valve points, or at other locations where it is hard to be detected by thieves.
The data provides the same sensitivity as data acquired by a permanent leak- and theft-detection systems. The information is collected and sent to Atmos Internationally periodically for analysis, before the company reports the results back to the client. It is an effective tool to detect and discourage pipeline thefts where thieves can attack standard leak-detection equipment.
This article was featured in the June edition of Pipelines International. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile device, click here.
For more information visit the Atmos International website.
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