Detecting a Pinhole Leak in a Pipeline: Small Pinhole Leaks Are No Match for New Technology

Detecting a Pinhole Leak in a Pipeline: Small Pinhole Leaks Are No Match for New Technology

Pinhole leaks in pipelines can be a big problem for operators; they can lead to spills that possibly will not be detected over a long time. These leaks can then spill over weeks or months and will not be recognized with the conventional leak detection systems.

What Causes Pinhole Leaks?

Bacteria are found in everything from soil to oxygen to the product in a pipeline. These micro-organisms can cause corrosion, which can result in damage to the metal.

Certain types of bacteria produce different by-products (like sulphuric acid) in their processes, and these activities can result in the formation of corrosion, which can damage pipelines. This process is called microbially-induced corrosion.

How Are Pinhole Leaks Detected?

Follow the Data: Sophisticated data analysis can play an important role in preventing leaks. In-line inspection devices gather troves of information about the pipeline. Advanced software can evaluate this data alongside geographic information from the right-of-way to create risk profiles for each foot of pipe.

Advanced Cameras: Specialized cameras can detect evaporated hydrocarbons that cannot be seen by the naked eye. This technology uses hyperspectral imaging. Hyperspectral images can show extremely low volumes and concentrations of evaporated hydrocarbons within a one-mile radius of the camera.

Fiber Optics: Fiber optic cables installed alongside a new pipeline can help detect tiny leaks because they can sense unexpected local changes of temperature that can be caused by the leak of liquid that is either warmer or colder than surrounding soil. Fiber optics are also capable of acoustic sensing, which allows them to sense vibrations caused by flow from a pipe.

What Happens if a Leak is Detected?

Every potential problem is taken seriously. Before repair and maintenance begins, the operator will carefully divert the product around the segment that’s being repaired. One of the most common methods of repair is to recoat the pipeline with epoxy and cover the entire section with a sleeve. This is then clamped to a specified pressure to ensure an effective seal, and the seams of the sleeve are welded.

Submar is committed to pipelines running safely and smoothly. If a possible flaw is detected, our team will zero in on the exact location, and the pipeline can be safely exposed and then repaired. After the repairs, our team cleans the land and returns it to a natural state.