Implementing external pipeline leak detection technologies

The Pipeline Leak Simulator (also known as the ELDER) is a large-scale soil box that can be filled with various types of soil to simulate leaks of hydrocarbon liquids from buried pipelines.

Understanding how pipeline leak detection technologies perform in a full scale, controlled, environmentally friendly setting

A pressurized and heated fluid storage and delivery system provides precise control of liquid leak rates and ensures that the volatile components of hydrocarbon test fluids remain in solution prior to the leak event.

The soil box is housed inside a secondary containment shelter and outfitted with an exhaust blower and incinerator to ensure that explosive mixtures of gases do not accumulate in the apparatus during testing.

The test pipe buried in the soil typically has several, independently controlled leak ports so that multiple leak events can be staged for each test.

Multiple leak detection technologies can be evaluated in each test with results compared to a reference grid of thermocouples buried in the soil to confirm the distribution of leaked fluid in the soil for each leak event.

Special cable configurations also make it possible to simulate cable lengths of up to 50 km to evaluate the effects of long cable runs on the performance of the leak detection system.

Examples of tests conducted in the Pipeline Leak Simulator:

  • Evaluation of cable based leak detection systems; and
  • Validation of models predicting the rate of gas migration from underground hydrocarbon leaks.

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