Prevention of Illegal Tapping: Operational Trials of Distributed Acoustic Sensing
Proceedings Publication Date
Tomas Matela
Tomas Matela, Günter Bulau
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RMR was affected by illegal tappings more than once in the recent years and in every single case, detection was key to minimise the risk of environmental pollution and financial losses. In addition to several established organizational and technical procedures, new detection methods were tested and examined in practical field trials by RMR.

One of these tested methods is distributed acoustic sensing. This process requires the availability of an optical fibre cable and works with pulsed laser beams. Each fibre optic cable has its own material characteristic and the laser beam is reflected on very small defects. This behaviour is used for detection of interferences from external and internal of the pipeline, such as digging and pigs. If vibrations occur in the vicinity of the fibre optic cable, these are detected based on deviations of the laser beam reflections caused by changes of the material characteristic. By analysing big data and based on recognizing patterns, it is possible to identify and determine the source of events and its locations.

The system is highly sensitive and a pipeline operator faces a lot of challenges, e.g. false alarms, data display and operator training. The lecture presents experiences, difficulties and improvements which RMR gathered within a one-year’s test phase.

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