Could Pipeline Leaks Be A Thing Of The Past?

 

The Challenge: Pipelines Need Better Monitoring and Leak Detection

With pipeline integrity at the heart of the national dialogue on Canada’s energy industry, GE Canada’s Customer Innovation Centre (CIC) in Calgary wanted to find a solution that would benefit pipeline companies, energy companies, and Canadians.  

In consultation with industry, and using its own knowledge of the issue, GE isolated some key challenges facing pipeline integrity.

Firstly, pipeline companies often conduct above-land surveys of pipelines. Above-land surveys involve walking the line, flying over the line by drone or helicopter, or smart-balls. These surveys, though thorough and comprehensive, are not continuous and may therefore miss a leak or spill.  

Secondly, most pipelines are monitored by sensors at specific points. These sensors supply limited, location-specific data and therefore do not provide operators with a comprehensive view of what is occurring on the line.  Furthermore, the sensors can generate false alarms, creating unnecessary work and expense while driving operator fatigue in the pipeline operator’s control room.

Seeking Solutions: GE’s Calgary CIC Steps Up

After working with industry to better understand the issues, the CIC surveyed available solutions in GE’s pipeline-technology portfolio. In addition, CIC studied potential solutions developed by companies in Calgary’s local innovation ecosystem.

The result? The CIC connected with a Calgary company called Hifi Engineering, which has developed a pipeline-monitoring technology that provides 100-per cent coverage and almost instantaneous leak detection, no matter the size or location.

The Technology: How It Works

Hifi Engineering uses best-in-class fibre-optic cabling and power-enclosure to collect real-time data along the entire length of a pipeline, providing a far more complete picture than one based on point-sensing or scheduled surveys alone.

The solution monitors three key data points: acoustic energy, strain, and temperature, enabling operators to know not only where issues are occurring on a line but the nature of the issues. In addition, the company conducts extensive baseline testing — a key factor in significantly reducing false alarms.

Working with Hifi, the team at the Calgary CIC has integrated Hifi’s innovation with GE’s cloud-based Predix platform to create a hassle-free technology that is both reactive and preventative. Featuring a detailed interface and greater data resolution, it gives operators an even fuller picture of what’s happening with their pipelines, allowing them to better determine actions they need to take, both in terms of emergency response and preventative action.

Results: A Solution That’s Ready To Grow

With GE’s Predix platform and Hifi’s technology, GE’s Calgary CIC has developed a solution to address the concerns of pipeline companies, energy companies, governments, regulators and communities by ensuring full coverage and immediate knowledge of any incident within a pipeline — leaks included.

As new applications are developed on the Predix platform, even more data and analytics will be incorporated into pipeline monitoring, especially in the area of predictive indicators that will further help operators prevent issues before they occur.

In working closely with industry, and collaborating with innovators, CIC was able to find a future-proof solution to address one of the major issues facing Canada’s energy industry. Best of all, since the solution works to catch small incidents before they become large issues the investment pays for itself through risk-mitigation.

 

If you would like to see a demonstration of the Hifi-Predix solution, please contact Gandeephan Ganeshalingam, Chief Innovation Officer GE Canada, at gandeephan.ganeshalingam@ge.com or +1 403 775 8600

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