Deployment of a Remote Acoustic Monitoring System for Pipeline-Asset Integrity

Topics: Intelligent fields/surveillance
Fig. 1—Satellite view of the Kwale and Akri terminals flanking the Niger River.

Since 2007, an operator in Nigeria has registered a significant increase of oil-spill events caused by sabotage and oil-theft activities. The risks for personnel safety and environmental protection were such that it was decided to investigate new detection and monitoring systems. The technology presented here allows detecting and locating leaks taking place at a distance from the sensor of up to 35 km.


The technology of this system is based upon discrete vibroacoustic sensing. This technology takes advantage of the fact that any acoustic signal reaching, or generated upon, the pipeline will introduce vibroacoustic waves within the pipeline body and the transported-fluid medium (crude oil, brine, and natural gas). In addition to the general noise of the fluid flow within the pipeline, these acoustic waves are transported along the conduit for long distances. Especially within the fluid, the sound propagation is expected to travel several kilometers, depending on the density of the medium and the pipe diameter. In the pipe body, because of the variability of the boundary conditions, the calculation of the sound propagation is complex, but mathematical analyses proved the existence of modal solutions that are allowed to travel several kilometers. Moreover, for high-density fluids (i.e., crude oil or brine), the acoustic waves can be measured across the pipe shell.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 171763, “Field Deployment of an Innovative Acoustic Monitoring System for Remote Real-Time Pipeline-Asset Integrity,” by R. Schiavon, Tecnomare; G. Bernasconi, Politecnico di Milano; G. Giunta and G.P. Borghi, Eni; and N. Okere, NAOC, prepared for the 2014 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, 10–13 November. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Deployment of a Remote Acoustic Monitoring System for Pipeline-Asset Integrity

01 December 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 12