How Monitoring Detects Pipeline Issues

The world’s pipelines are vital energy corridors which link oil and gas fields to customers. At one large end of the spectrum, the 760-mile (1,222-km) Nordstream1 natural gas pipeline is the longest subsea pipeline in the world with an annual capacity of 55 Bcm.

There is also the West-East Gas Pipeline Project, which at 2,485 miles (4,000 km), is among the longest onshore pipelines and links the gas fields of Turkmenistan in Central Asia with such Chinese coastal cities as Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Moreover, pipeline networks can be extensive. For example, the United States contains 135,000 miles (217,261 km) of oil and gas pipelines, and Canada has about 68,350 miles (110,000 km) of pipelines.

Pipeline Problems

Pipeline operators face a wide range of ever-changing problems including sabotage, remoteness of location and age. This means pipeline networks require constant specialist care. In dangerous locations, pipelines are prime targets for terrorist attacks, while those in remote areas are difficult to monitor for leaks and breaks. Most of the time, though, age is the biggest problem.

As of 2015, 67% of oil and gas pipelines across the globe were over 20 years old, while 18% were 11-20 years old, according to a Research and Markets report in May.

In the United States, about 55% of the 135,000 miles of oil and gasoline pipelines were installed in or before 1969, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Since much of the infrastructure was built before current safety regulations were put in place, many distribution pipelines are still comprised of cast iron, some are as much as a century old. Read more

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