Geohazard Strain Monitoring Mitigates Risk for Oil Pipelines

Mitigating the risks associated with oil pipeline faults provides increased reliability, reduced downtime and lower maintenance costs, leading to increased revenues. However, pipelines are naturally vulnerable to operational, environmental and man-made issues such as internal erosion and corrosion, mechanical deformation, leaks and encroachments. Compounding the risks, the actual detection and localization of incipient and advanced faults in pipelines is a very difficult, expensive and imprecise task.

Over the last few years, optical fiber sensors have seen an increased acceptance and more widespread use for structural sensing and monitoring in civil engineering, aerospace, marine, oil and gas, electrical power, composites and smart structure applications. Given their immunity to electromagnetic effects and compatibility with outdoor use, fiber optic sensors have proven themselves to be rugged and long-lasting for installation along pipelines.

A talk, “Oil Pipeline Geohazard Risk Mitigation via On-Line Optical Fiber Strain Monitoring” during the International Pipeline Geotechnical Conference will review the on-line monitoring of multiple critical sections of buried oil pipelines of the Ecopetrol transportation cross-Colombian network, which experience mechanical deformations due to local soil and geohazard effects. The system has been in service since 2013 and has helped provide early warning on several severe pipeline accumulated strain deformations and imminent ruptures. The system, outfitted with more than 1,000 strain sensors dispersed across 72 different sectors, also provides data for operators to use to gain an understanding of the mechanical behavior of buried pipelines under diverse soil geohazard conditions.

The session will be presented during the conference at 9 am June 27. Learn more about the project, which employs optical fiber FBG temperature-compensated strain sensors, optical sensing interrogators and Micron Optics Enlight software in this case study.