The monitoring of oil and gas pipelines by means of distributed fibre optic sensors is becoming common. The most recent development in the field of fibre optic sensing is the distributed acoustic sensing (DAS), which allows to detect and to localize third party threats to pipelines. For this purpose, fibre optic telecommunication cables located close to the pipelines are usually used. However, DAS carries a far greater potential for continuous condition monitoring of pipelines.
The interdisciplinary research project at BAM (AGIFAMOR, Ageing Infrastructures – Fibre Optic Monitoring of Pipes) investigates a new technical approach to extend the application field of DAS towards the detection and location of acoustic signals that indicate critical alterations and certain damage scenarios originated from within the pipeline or the pipe wall. Therefore, the optical fibre sensors are applied onto the pipe itself and the application procedure towards an optimal acoustic signal transduction is optimized.
A number of laboratory scale experiments were performed focusing on the signal transmission of acoustic signals as well as the detection of damages in the pipe wall by means of DAS. Furthermore, real-scale tests on a pipeline DN100 of 38 m length have been carried out at the BAM test site for technical safety (BAM-TTS) to study the detection and localization of leaks and of changing flow profiles due to corrosion or sedimentation processes.