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A New Pipeline Leak-Locating Technique Utilizing a Novel Odorized Test-Fluid (Patent Pending) and Trained Domestic Dogs

QUAIFE, L. R., and K. J. MOYNIHAN, Esso Resources Canada Limited, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Despite ongoing improvements in pipeline coatings, corrosion protection, and construction techniques, pipelines still develop leaks. Although large-diameter leaks usually manifest themselves quite readily, precise location of pin-hole leaks remains a problem. Locating leaks in small-diameter or variable-diameter pipelines, which cannot accommodate "smart-pig" technology, is particularly problematic. In response to the need for precise leak-detection capability in "non-pigable" lines, Esso Resources Canada Limited has developed a new liquid-phase pipeline leak-detection system capable of accurately locating pin-hole leaks. The system is dependent on two components; a new (patent-pending) leak-detection fluid, and trained Labrador retrievers. A key component of the test fluid is an odif rous binary azeotrope that is released when a leak occurs and, by virtue of its high vapor pressure, migrates directly to the soil surface where it is detected by the trained dogs. The technique was initially intended to be used on newly constructed pipelines, where high pore-space in recently placed backfill would allow for ready percolation of the odorant to the surface of the soil. However, after employing the technique on a number of leaking pipelines, it has proven capable of detecting pin-hole leaks in lines buried to a depth of 2.1 m in compacted clay and in pipelines which have been in place for as long as 28 years. To date the system has been used on 15 different pipeline leaks, with a detection success rate of 100%. This paper summarizes two years of research directed at develo ing this new leak-detection technique.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)