Making theft detection and location central to your pipeline strategy

Mar 11, 2019
Making theft detection and location central to your pipeline strategy

Thefts across pipelines are on the rise. With devasting consequences in Mexico and Nigeria, theft from pipelines is a complex and often challenging issue for pipeline owners and operators. The increasing sophistication of theft incidents in Europe is combined with the challenging and dangerous tapping points in Central America.

As well as the potential loss of life, the environmental damage due to theft can lead to millions of dollars in remediation of land – not to mention the loss of product, repairs, and resources required to restart a damaged pipeline.

As one of the only specialists in leak detection and location across pipelines, Atmos has significant experience in theft detection and location. We’ve invested heavily in technology to improve location accuracy and sensitivity using new hardware and our renowned software solutions. While we can’t predict thefts, we can help our customers and partners quickly locate a tapping point to mitigate environmental damage, product loss and potentially assist in apprehending the perpetrators and in most cases begin to deter thieves away from the pipelines our technology operates on.

Organised versus individual – the risks remain the same

The challenge remains, however, that not all thefts are the same. Looking at Central America, where Atmos has identified hundreds of illegal tapping points in the last 18 months, thefts are often undertaken by individuals or small groups. The thefts there tend to be less sophisticated, resulting in greater risk of damage and as in Mexico – death. Working with our partners, we’ve also seen an increase of organized theft. This form means that significant security needs to be in place to protect operators and their partners when visiting high-risk areas.

Mitigating impacts of theft

So, what can operators and owners do to mitigate the impacts of theft? The adoption of advanced leak detection systems is essential – incorporating software and hardware solutions to collect and analyze pipeline data. However, with thieves becoming more aware of theft detection on pipelines, they are adapting their approach. Atmos offers offline analysis by experienced engineers who examine data in much greater detail. The human element adds additional accuracy while ensuring highly sensitive theft detection without the distraction of false alarming.

Agile and adaptable

Flexibility is key and agile solutions often need to be deployed, especially in hard to access areas in terms of communications or in areas where overt monitoring solutions may be too conspicuous. Atmos has developed a suite of tools and solutions for every operation. These include Odin, our battery powered pressure data logger, Halo and Eclipse, our non-intrusive pressure sensors, and our renowned leak detection products Atmos Wave and Atmos Wave Flow, providing a comprehensive approach. Atmos is continually investing into research and development to produce the best solution for each and every customer.

To discover the Atmos approach, visit stand 61 at the Pipelines Technical Conference to discuss with Harry Smith and David Dingley, 18-21 March in Berlin.

Harry Smith
Written by Harry Smith

I am a Sales and Research Engineer at Atmos, based in Manchester, UK. I am responsible for UK sales and the product champion for Atmos Wave Flow and Theft Net. I enjoy hiking, basketball and golf.

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