Third party damage is the leading cause of pipeline failures in the world today; accounting for up to 50% of failures. In Europe alone, it is estimated that a pipeline is struck by heavy machinery twice per day. Approximately 6% of strikes result in failure, either it immediate or delayed.
This means that there is an average of 48 failures in Europe each year. With each failure, operators incurred major losses in terms of pipeline repair, production loss and remediation. However, other costs such as environmental and bad publicity are factors.
GE Oil&Gas has launched an acoustical monitoring system named ThreatScan to detect impacts to operators pipelines from mechanical machinery. These impacts can be as minor as scraping of the pipe, resulting in coating loss to significant impacts causing denting and/or failure.
Through the use of regularly spaced sensors, acoustical signals are detected traveling within the pipeline product. Onsite processing determines if an impact has occurred. This information is then transferred via satellite to GE-PII’s Remote Monitoring & Detection (RM&D) centre. Skilled personnel analyze the data confirming the impact and location. Customers are notified immediately upon confirmation.
The short-term value of ThreatScan can be seen in three distinct areas: reduction in current monitoring techniques, prevention of pipeline failures and liability for pipeline damage repairs.
ThreatScan allows operators to identify parties that damage pipelines. Often these parties are repeat offenders – choosing either to not notify operators of their activities or ignoring pipeline markings.
Impact detection is one of the significant activities beside all Integrity Management strategies and therefore has to be positioned as tactical step in an enterprise Asset Management approach based on Real-time monitoring and Reporting activities for better transparency of actual status information.