Pure Technologies - a Xylem brand

Case study - Plains Midstream– Alberta, Canada


Courtesy of Pure Technologies - a Xylem brand

  • Service: SmartBall - Oil Leak Detection
  • Client: Plains Midstream Canada
  • Project Date: May 2008
  • Type of Pipeline: Crude
  • Diameter: 8-inch
  • Length: 8,000 meters
  • Results: 2 simulated leaks created and detected
  • As small as 0.0025gals/min

Plains Midstream selected SmartBall ahead of other technologies for their pipeline leak detection program because of its ease of deployment and the ability to detect and locate leaks down to a very small size. They requested a demonstration of the ball’s capabilities in one of their operational crude oil pipelines.

An 8-inch lateral line in Alberta, Canada was selected. The low flow of the line made this a challenging project for an in-line tool. Two very small artificial leaks of 0.3gals/min and 0.03gals/min were created using a 2-inch offtake fitted with a needle valve for accurate flow control. The released oil was captured in a graduated vessel for safe disposal. A series of 5 small releases were also made with the ball still in the launcher for calibration purposes.

Both artificial leaks were clearly visible in the acoustic data. Considering the low pressure and low flow in the pipeline, the results were impressive. The magnitude of the acoustic response for the test leaks and the calibration leaks demonstrated that leaks as small as 0.0025gals/min (less than 1 barrel per week!) would be detectable.

On the basis of this trail, Plains Midstream progressed to a series of commercial inspections.

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