Oil pipelines are vast infrastructures often in difficult terrains such as marshlands, hot desserts or frozen areas, or even areas of conflict.
Pipelines get monitored against various parameters, such as pipeline pressure and temperature, diameter of a pipeline rapture, layout of pipelines and type of transported fluid, etc.
While pipeline operators must carry out regular inspections of their equipment to ensure it is in safe working order, restrictions in detection of hidden leaks may result in liquid hydrocarbons getting into the ground up to the water bearing-layer.
The length of main pipelines in Russia exceeds 280 thousand kilometres while in America it exceeds 2,2million kilometres. And the world’s economies depend on these critical supplies of energy.The extent of this infrastructure makes it hard to identify leaks in advance to avoid damages that can result.
Pressure Control Method
Helicopter or Plane
Earth Remote Sensing Data (Via Satellites)
Different high quality sensors aboard the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), allow simultaneous inspecting of pipelines with respect to different criteria. UAV’s light weight provides for continuous scanning providing maximum safety at the same time. UAVs ensure scanning of a pipeline at long distances and in hard-to-reach areas. UAVs can routinely fly closer to the ground at night, follow a very precise flight path, have lower operational costs and are more environmentally friendly.
Nextech recommends for drones in pipeline monitoring that end users should identify the type of data that needs to be collected first, ie:
Multispectral Imagery to Identify
Lidar To Create 3D Digital Model
Thermal Identify Possible Defects
Helicopter or Plane
Earth Remote Sensing Data (Via Satellites)
The above requirements will greatly aid to identify the appropriate platform for pipeline monitoring
Technology changes at a rapid pace and recently there have been exciting advances with more sensitive methane detection sensors on UAV platforms that can get closer to the sources of pipeline gas leaks. These game changing developments are increasingly getting the attention of more and more gas pipeline operators who are prioritizing these for adoption
“AI is the new Electricity”
Often compared to the introduction of electricity which transformed industries in the 1800’s, or even the. Discovery of fire about 2 million years ago, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already transforming society, creating massive change and huge economic value. The Oil and Gas industry, Pipeline Monitoring in particular, is deriving great benefit from the implementation of BOTH Drone Technology and AI.
AI is able to generate insight without human intervention, or limitations, by learning from masses of data which is processed at astronomical speeds. The more data, the more actionable the insights. AI finds out what works, and then amplifies this beyond human ability to do so.
Drones overcome traditional pipeline monitoring limitations by taking powerful, multi-sensor payloads, to very close to the pipeline and generating higher volumes, of much richer data in terms of context, and resolution, providing the masses of data for AI engines to process.
Being able to remotely perform many maintenance tasks is a huge benefit to this capital-intensive industry, being amongst the most complex of industries having to deal with stringent guidelines regarding safety, health, and environment.
Often traditional systems generate false alarms and nothing significant which can lead to alarm fatigue, where people do not respond. The problem is that when something happens with the transportation of dangerous fluids, it can very serious and have catastrophic consequences.
Another major challenge with threshold-based alarm systems is reporting exceptions after the fact and with limited insight into the cause
Effective pipeline monitoring strategies should take into account: type of inspection data, inspection methods and types of UAV platforms.
Types of inspection data:
The value of data is, especially for AI applications, is emphasized by the often-quoted phrase: “Data is the new Oil!” A variety of rich data sources can used to monitor various aspects of long-distance pipeline infrastructures.
High-resolution colour imagery
Technology changes at a rapid pace and recently there have been exciting advances with more sensitive methane detection sensors on UAV platforms that can get closer to the sources of pipeline gas leaks. Oil & gas operators have been able to digitize several aspects of their value chain with a variety of recently emerging technologies.
Drones, capable of integrating various payloads, sensors, and imaging technologies, effectively carry out operations like important Methane Gas leak detections, as well as corridor mapping, emergency response, and recovery, etc. in the oil & gas sector.
Intelligent video surveillance systems
CCTV cameras when integrated with AI enable more advanced solutions like face recognition, object recognition, event recognition, intelligent image processing, remote asset management, behavioural detection, and analytics.
AI allows the use of image analytics to monitor any deformation from the baseline profile of infrastructure. The real-time visibility of infrastructure integrity ensures safe operations, while also reducing the cost and human errors in meter reading.
Leakage detection represents the most critical element of the Oil & Gas industry inspection and detection for preventing major accidents as well as avoiding malfunction of equipment. Major techniques include:
Multi-sensor Data Integration that allows modelling of vital equipment such as flowmeters and valves using AI, as well as ensuring that detection is validated with more than one type of data. For example, in an oil pipeline, you would want to analyse the flow and improve corrosion, as well as identify and pinpoint potential leaks.
By utilising both AI and Edge Computing detect and alert central operations to potential issues such as leaks, corrosion, freezing damage or vandalism. It also allows operators to capture and analyse remote operations through image analytics. But above all it adds intelligence by predicting and optimising pipeline maintenance and integrity.
A Digital Twin of a physical plant or asset can be used to optimize various processes before implementation on the physical asset and also make adjustments to facility designs. Different sensor types and devices may be integrated with the software to build digital profiles, and then used to predict and optimize pipeline maintenance and integrity.
In this regard, sensors are deployed capable of collecting information about unwanted gas leaks to avoid losses of human as well as other infrastructures and are not only capable of generating alerts but also providing information to actuators to act automatically in order to stop the leakage and mitigate the consequences.
Combining the intelligent algorithms in AI with an end to end solution that integrates sensors with real-time edge computing for profiling of assets and activities is ideally suited for not only Pipeline Monitoring but the Oil and Gas as a whole. Along with the digital twin design this enables a model-focused approach that allows prompt insights into operational conditions enabling safe, preventative maintenance, continuous process improvement and responsive commercial strategies.
Nextech is a long-range UAV manufacturer that specialises in solutions for the Oil and Gas industry.