OptaSense Distributed Acoustic Sensing Technology for Pipeline Integrity Management
Monitoring long linear assets such as pipelines has always been a balance between labour-intensive guarding, periodic point sensors / CCTV, and costly practices such as flying the line. Now, OptaSense Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology has arrived as a highly effective and economic means to monitor and manage the security and safety of pipelines worldwide.
OptaSense technology is used around the world to protect pipelines from accidental damage or malicious interference, and also works as a condition monitoring tool, allowing the operator to control and schedule pig runs. It is also used as an online leak detection system for liquid, gas and multiphase products.
Pipeline security and leak detection
OptaSense provides total pipeline and corridor security using fibre-optic DAS technology. The intelligent solution can detect, locate and classify third party interference (TPI) events in order to secure and protect valuable assets such as pipelines, and prevent incidents before they actually occur.
OptaSense DAS technology is able to use existing communications optical fibres to deliver 24/7 coverage. The standard control and instrumentation single-mode fibre-optic cable (often the same cable used for SCADA communications) is converted into an array of virtual microphones every 10m along the route. A highly stable laser is pulsed 10,000 times a second, and the Rayleigh backscatter is monitored for signs of ‘excitement’ within the fibre molecules. Acoustic signals are processed in real time to provide instant detection of an event, as well as its location and classification.
The ground-breaking DAS technology enables dynamic management of activity from leaks and real-time threats. Fibre-optic cables become capable of distinguishing between human footsteps and animal tracks, and detecting temperature changes and pressure pulses, delivering highly sensitive trigger alerts.
Pipeline integrity management
OptaSense are now recognised as Pipeline Integrity Management (PIM) world leaders, delivering technology solutions that are radically challenging conventional pipeline management techniques seen as expensive and inefficient.
In just four years, OptaSense has grown from a team of just three to more than 140 professionals. It has acquired unrivalled experience through protecting 11,000km of pipeline for a number of different customers worldwide. Optasense’s technology, experience and capability to operate globally continue to differentiate the company, as it delivers significant operational benefits and direct cost savings for national and international operators.
OptaSense is able to address the five key areas of critical pipeline management through a single system, covering:
- Third party interference (pipeline protection): immediate alerts deliver protection for the entire length of the pipeline
- Leak detection, including monitoring of noise from pipe rupture events, turbulent flow through leak orifices, negative wave pressure pulses and environmental strains
- Pig tracking, monitoring movement and location along the entire length of the pipeline
- Seismic monitoring
- Asset condition monitoring: management and reporting on pipelines and related infrastructure conditions
Complete pipeline monitoring solution
OptaSense provides centralised information, creating immediate alerts, improved responses and informed decision making. It is a comprehensive, discrete and pervasive security and pipeline monitoring solution. OptaSense uses standard / installed fibre-optic cables that have already been laid, and is a proven safe technology. It enables the following:
- Pipeline operators can ‘see’ in real time what is happening along the entire length of their assets, as never before
- Leaks can be detected to within 10m as they begin, through the use of four different measures / indicators
- Interference threats to the pipeline can be classified and localised before direct action is taken
- Protection can be provided for up to 50km through a single OptaSense Interrogator Unit; connecting together protects over much larger distances
- Multiple additional applications can be utilised, including accurate tracking of pigs in pipelines and zoning to account for variable environments
- The delivery of fully integrated real-time monitoring and reporting to mobile devices such as smartphones
- The evasion of significant pipeline downtime with improved response times that also reduce the costs of incidents and the resulting clean-up
- The strengthening of environmental management and regulatory compliance