Pipeline monitoring and third-party damage assessment by multi-platform sensor networks
Pipeline monitoring and control is one of the key methods for limiting maintenance costs for oil and gas transport and distribution. However, traditional methods mainly rely on the control of anomalies in the product flow and on the periodic control of pipeline integrity by direct inspection techniques. Other approaches make use of airborne survey by using visual observation or single- and multi-sensor approaches. Despite their advanced capabilities, such methods are not completely satisfactory since they are not able to detect or anticipate specific disturbances such as slow but progressive ground deformations leading to failure or fast, point-wise third-parties intrusions and damages. We propose a new integrated monitoring system with low cost and low energy requirements that is based on a coupled multi-platform sensor network. An optic fiber monitoring component provides energy for the whole system and continuous deformation detection capability along the entire pipeline route being also able to detect slow deformations such as those produced by landslide, ground displacements, sink holes and permafrost melting. At the same time, a second component relies on a patented sensor array capable of detecting acoustic signals and localized displacements through inertial micro-platforms. The energy supply and the data transmission for the entire system is provided by the optic fiber wiring and local concentration points using wireless networks. The system is at the prototype stage as a whole and is undergoing field tests that have shown so far very promising results on both the accuracy and precision of detection for a large series of pipeline disturbance typologies.