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It is estimated that more than 180,000km of onshore pipelines will be installed between now and 2012. According to the US Federal Office of Pipeline Safety report (1968-97), the average pipeline suffers one leak per year every 400 miles. This equates to a total of 180 expected leaks per year for a new pipeline alone. Sensornet’s continuous real-time Digital Leak Detection monitoring solution has the reach, precision and the speed to provide complete, continuous real-time knowledge.

Environmental and safety issues are becoming ever more important in the downstream process industry today. As plants and pipelines become larger in scale, more complex and more remote, maximising safety and minimising risk requires an absolute understanding of the integrity of the infrastructure to curtail financial, logistical and operational risks.

Despite significant improvements in pipeline construction materials and techniques, as well as growing pressure on operators and pipeline construction companies, it is still considered unacceptable for a leak to occur. However, it would be impossible to guarantee that leaks will never happen. Many lines are damaged by outside influences that cannot be legislated for, such as construction activity or forces of nature.

The implementation of an accurate and reliable leak detection system can alert the operator to the presence of a leak and not only minimise the amount of product lost but also prevent a major environmental or safety incident occurring. One such system for detecting leaks, pioneered by Sensornet, is Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) technology.

First established in the oil and gas industry for downhole well monitoring, DTS involves the installation of a fibre optic sensing cable into the well completion which enables the reservoir technician to maximise output and increase well integrity. Sensornet has created a range of products and services to provide a non-intrusive, real-time and accurate leak detection system for refinery and transportation pipeline applications, which is also used for other applications such as high voltage power cable and dam integrity monitoring.

Sensornet has also developed a pioneering range of cables that can withstand extreme of temperatures from cryogenic environments (-165°C) and those exceeding 700°C. These proprietary sensing cables have been designed with specialised coatings and encapsulation for enhanced mechanical and environmental protection.