Illegal tapping and product theft is an increasingly significant threat to operators of refined product pipelines. Illegal tapping can cause a number of significant challenges to pipeline integrity such as: damage to external pipe wall and coating, a related introduction of unknown risk of delayed failure due to stress raisers within the pipe wall and most significantly, the direct and uncontrolled release of product without warning.
As operators strive to find an effective early warning system that will provide alerts as pipelines are encroached upon, alternative approaches are required to assist in the location, and identification, of both existing, and new, illegal tap attempts. An existing pipeline inspection technology, with a proven track record of accurate location of illegal tap locations is In-line Inspection (ILI), specifically Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL) tools.
This paper looks at the various theft inspection solutions developed and implemented by Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) and its partner company TECMA Srl (Tecma). It begins with a review of how ILI technology can be used to provide a reliable theft inspection service to allow complete identification of all pilferage attempts. This is followed by several different case studies showing how MFL tools have been used to successfully identify illegal tap sites. These case studies include results of ILI runs conducted in Europe using different MFL tools and techniques.
A version of this paper was presented at the Technology for Future and Ageing Pipelines Conference, Gent, Belgium, April 2018