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New software heads an innovative pipeline monitoring system for oil and gas facilities.

An all-new data-driven sensor-based ‘Smart Sleeve’ product for use in pipeline maintenance and repairs is under development to give pipeline operators and regulators a new benchmark in cost-effective operations, safety and peace of mind.

The initiative is led by Lloyd’s Register (LR), a leading global provider of engineering and technology-centric professional services, and Western Specialties (WS), to develop and commercialize a novel integrated pipeline repair method. WS is a technology company that specializes in composite reinforcement systems on pipelines and is excited to release new reinforcement solutions with LR’s technology and sensing capabilities.

It will provide the industry with one of the world’s first intelligent pipeline monitoring and repair sensing solutions.

“We are taking two existing technologies that are currently being used today and merging them into something that can finally provide insight to operators and regulators on their aging infrastructure” says Ryan LaVergne, director of technology from WS. “Taking this proactive approach on monitoring anomalies can help predict what’s going on without having to perform future digs, as well as give a multitude of data points used in future calculations.”

“External forces on infrastructure such as weather or tidal conditions, terrain movement, and undetected breaches of the pipeline structure, and corrosion damage are just a few examples of the many issues facing pipeline operators,” highlights Clinton Abbate, senior analyst at LR’s Energy business in Houston, Texas. “It is common knowledge that recent years haven’t been kind to the pipeline industry. But now, as the market begins to settle and new methods of improved operation take hold, LR’s new and critical piece of technology could be the answer that many operators are looking for.”

Alan Turner, Senior Concept Developer at LR, says: “Our technology contains sensors enabling a variety of features, including pressure, temperature and the possibility to monitor infrastructure for overburden, re-rate, corrosion or crack monitoring as well as movement in geologically active areas. We have created an approach that can detect when repairs that are made to a pipeline are in need of inspection reducing the need for unnecessary digs – onshore or offshore. It is a 24/7 monitoring system that offers pipeline operators and regulatory authorities an overview of how safe a pipeline actually is every minute of every day.”

What’s different about Smart Sleeve?
Unlike current market offerings on “typical” repair solutions, this method prototyped by LR and WS gives the best of both worlds by providing a repair solution and monitoring system built into one. “The future integrity or life expectancy of a pipeline repair have always been big questions, and now with ‘Smart Sleeve’ that can be realized to the DOT and State Regulatory Authorities,” says LaVergne.

‘Smart Sleeve’ technology solution provides pipeline operators with advanced analytics to give a clear picture of what’s going on with a pipeline at any time. “We can set our ‘Smart Sleeve’ and sensor product to record and timestamp all movement, including the actual direction of movement, pressure, temperature and strain,” says Turner. “This data can be stored in the LR Cloud which then allows regulators, operators and technical engineers to access information from any location and publish updates to the operator’s SCADA system. This provides added support for our customers because we can supply more information for better reporting helping each pipeline operator to further improve how they manage and reduce risk.”

And if something doesn’t look quite right, ‘Smart Sleeve’ can trigger a response for inspection or provide operators with a choice of options to minimize disruption or harm to individuals or the environment so that the pipeline facility remains intact and safe.

Providing fast remedy and decision making to reduce risk
“At LR we are constantly challenging the industry norm to develop better and improved products that help further improve how operators can better manage their pipeline operations and monitoring systems,” says Turner. “We develop these products based on customer feedback, and since our expertise has expanded beyond smart sensing of pipeline operations, our customers’ top wish is to be able to monitor the physical repairs of their pipelines using dashboards that allow complete monitoring of the pipeline, including those physical repairs made on any part of the pipeline and the anomaly under the repair. Also, operational parameters such as pressure and temperature allow for leak detection and fast remedy. This is what we have successfully developed with Western Specialties.”

Selecting the right technology solution for many pipeline operators can be a daunting task. “With so much
to consider and so much operational data available to draw meaningful insights from, it’s beneficial to have a partner by your side who’s been there and done it – and can give you the tools you need to progress,” highlights Abbate. “Our extensive expertise and technical ‘know-how’ gives operators the right solutions for the right application, so they can concentrate on the job at hand.”

The new ‘Smart Sleeve’ product is seen to be a viable solution to enable pipelines to operate at full pressure giving more production and maximizing income for their businesses. It critically reduces the risk of gaining penalties that could arise from damage, corrosion, material failure, leaks or ruptures that frequently lead to costly civil liability claims.

“Putting sensors on pipelines has been going on for years to monitor for leaks, intrusion and movement. Repairing defects, dents, gauges, corrosion, and leaks in pipelines can be a costly and resource-intensive task. The costs borne out by the operators over the years total US$ Millions. But to make that task less costly and more efficient, I believe what we are doing is novel by integrating the sensors into the pipeline repairs,” highlights Turner.

“This enables operators and regulators to precisely monitor the health of the pipeline repair and the anomaly under the repair, in addition to assessing the operational conditions and entire pipeline movement.”