The vibro-acoustic system (e-vpms®) was developed by Eni SpA mainly to localize leakages, although has shown over the years the capability of detecting impacts and illegal tapping precursor events. This technology is able to detect and localize third party interferences (TPIs), such as the manual digging close to the pipeline, by exploiting similar physical phenomena involved in shell/fluid stimulation by impacts and tapping operations. Such a sensitive system requires sensor specifications stricter than in the case of leak detection; in particular, with respect to the acquisition frequency and the inter-distance among vibro-acoustic stations. The fullest deployment configuration of the e-vpms® provides an integrated platform able to cover a wide spectrum of events related to the “life-cycle” of illegal activities, from digging, passing through illegal tapping to the leakage itself. Another benefit of the integrated configuration is that the densification of sensors, required by the TPI system, can be exploited by the leak detection system to improve accuracy, data redundancy and robustness. Nowadays the detection of TPIs and precursor events for every kind of polluting or dangerous product is a crucial information not only for allowing prevention of leakages but also for ensuring the highest standards of pipeline integrity monitoring.
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