There is a substantial market for pipeline security technology in both oil-producing and oil-consuming regions in the world. Depending on the location and age of the pipeline system, however, the required features of monitoring systems for asset integrity and pipeline defects differ and fall into different market segments.
In poor regions, the main threat to pipeline systems is theft. A damaging event can happen in any part of the pipeline which is often several hundreds of kilometers long. In this case, technology is needed which can detect minimal acoustic emissions over long distances. In order to meet the logistic and economic requirements of these regions, it is important to reduce the amount of monitoring stations. The inclusion of data transmission via satellite or existing Scada cables can help overcome geographical and financial limits in this set-up.
The monitoring situation is different in High Consequence Areas (HCA). These include highly populated areas in which pipelines are more susceptible to damage by building activities or accidents. A high density of sensor nodes and a good combination of different sensor types enable the arrangement of self-organizing networks thus increasing the assessment ability of the monitoring system.
A self-organized sensor network allows the monitoring system to work even if one or more sensors are damaged or destroyed. Detection devices that deal with the protection against terrorist attacks and sabotage on pipelines require further specific features such as power supply concept and self-protection function.
As regards the planning process and the installation of monitoring technology, it is generally useful to distinguish between existing pipeline systems which need new or up-dated protection devices and pipeline systems that are yet to be built. Both areas represent significant market potential for the monitoring and protection systems. As for the former, it has to be kept in mind that the financial and logistic effort of installing protections systems needs to be acceptable to the customer. This particularly concerns the installation of detection technology during times when the pipelines are in full operation.
The planning process for future pipelines poses different challenges and offers different new opportunities. The planning process should, at the earliest possible stage, include the consideration of the feasibility for embedded sensing devices in the manufacturing process and ensure the sensing functionality as a fix intelligent part of the modern pipeline.
The embedded sensor nodes should be maintenance-free and self-organized. The optic fiber or many other new micro sensor technologies could be a good example for the in pipeline integrated sensing system and will become a more vital element in the future pipeline system.
Pipeline safety and security is crucial for the economic and social development of numerous industries and societies around the globe. Challenges to the safety and security of pipeline systems are diverse and range from natural disaster to sabotage and terrorist attacks. Among the technical security devices available, each technology has its advantages and drawbacks. The market calls still for well designed, reliable and more intelligent monitoring system for the security of the pipeline operation.
They should provide the pipeline operator with detailed real-time information about an incident thus significantly reducing response time in the event of an accident or attack. Highly sophisticated modular security systems will meet the new challenge of both existing and planned pipeline systems and could provide cost-effective solutions.
Making use of the latest developments in acoustic and optical sensor technology and also in the technology of wireless sensor networks, these security systems will cater for a wide variety of geographical and technical specifications and clients’ needs not just within the sector of pipeline.
The ROSEN Group is working on the next generation of pipeline monitoring systems. ROSEN engineers are currently perfecting a modular monitoring system for pipelines which is based on the advanced acoustic emission technologies and can be adjusted to a variety of conditions and clients’ needs.