On good terms with long lines: Oil-pipelines soon safer

Medium-sized company from Darmstadt develops new technology aimed on early detection of leaks - Tests in Russia and China - Financial backing from the DBU
Osnabruck. Are oil-pipelines ticking eco-bombs? 74 million litres of oil are supposed to having polluted the Ecuadorian Amazon area in the last 30 years - far more than the leakage on the occasion of the Exxon Valdez accident. And the Amazon area is not the only spot of oil production. Environmental technology "Made in Germany" could now clearly enhance the safety when "liquid black gold" is transported. With financial backing of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU, Osnabruck, the Magnum Automatisierungstechnik (Darmstadt) developed a software to locate leaks in oil pipelines more simply and even faster and herewith protecting the environment more effectively. The new technology passed successfully first acid tests in Russia and China. DBU Secretary General Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde: "The method has proved to be suitable for all purposes and world-wide applicable even under extreme climatic conditions."

Supervision for complex long lines

Up to now only separate and made-to-measure solutions of leakage supervision systems for short pipelines exist. It was a goal of the project to extent this application on long pipelines and demanding technological and climatic conditions. Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde: "We were striving for an innovative supervision system with affordable expenditure for the users and under involvement of existing measuring technology for oil-pipelines. Modern mathematical-physical simulation- and estimation processes on the observation and diagnosis of flowing processes inside the pipelines should be implemented."

Endurance test successfully passed in Russia

In order to pass the six-months endurance test in the region of St. Petersburg in Russia, the technology had to run perfectly under strong climatic conditions and to prove coping with the existing and partially inexact sensor activity at the Russian pipelines.

Prevention and fast help

Those tasks were performed to everyone"s fullest satisfaction, emphasised Dr. Hubert MĂ€ncher, Magnum Automatisierungstechnik. Leaks were detected fast and reliable by the system, above all in the critical start- and switch-off-phases or at a change from diesel on kerosene. Dr. MĂ€ncher: "Reaction times are essentially shorter. Owing to the more exact and dynamic description of the flowing processes inside the pipelines, alarm thresholds can be adjusted more sensitively without increasing the danger of false alarms." In case of an accident staff, plant operators and disaster control organisations could intervene faster and limit the damage effectively; safety plans could be preventively devised and suitable measures being trained.

Annually 12 million tons of oil leakage avoidable

A technology to help mankind and nature, like Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde emphasised. By means of a sufficient spreading of the new system and according to first rough estimations, the oil loss from leaks can be limited under 1% whereas it amounts to 5% at present. Annually 12 million tons of oil leakage - a serious environmental problem - were avoidable. Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde: "Here a young medium-sized company was effectively supported in development and international spreading of an innovative safety technology."
And the oil flows and flows ... overhead leaks like this one can be found easily. A new software detecting subterranean leaks.
Oil-polluted land: Accidents at pipelines lead quickly to the eco-catastrophe. With a new technology leaks should be located more simply and faster thus to prevent the worst case.
Dense, dark clouds of smoke: the attempt to flare off leaked oil thus to avoid it seeping into the ground.
At the end of a subterranean transportation route, a pipeline comes out of the earth. Instruments should detect leaks fast and reliable along the pipeline.