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Frequently asked questions

What computational methods of leak and theft detection (LDS) are available from Atmos?

Model-based LDS - RTTM (real-time transient model) systems use mathematical models such as conservation of mass, conservation of momentum, and conservation of energy to detect leaks.

Statistical - Statistical systems analyze the imbalance in pipeline flow and pressure change to detect the presence of a leak.

Negative pressure/rarefaction wave - The pressure wave method analyzes the rarefaction waves produced when a leak occurs.

How do I know what method of LDS is best for my project?

Atmos’ skilled sales team and pipeline engineers can advise you the most suitable method based on pipeline topology and available metering equipment.

What are the main milestones of a project installation?

- Kick off meeting
- Functional design specification
- Factory acceptance test
- Site visit
- Data collection
- Tuning
- Site commissioning
- Project completion
- Warranty and maintenance

What is the duration of the system's learning period for tuning?

Every pipeline has its own characteristics. To optimize the sensitivity and reliability of each leak detection system, tuning is carried out based on the actual pipeline operational data. The duration of the data collection period depends on the pipeline operating cycle. For example, if a typical cycle is seven days, then one week data would be representative of normal pipeline operations. Atmos experienced engineers perform the tuning and system optimization prior to site installation and commissioning. For most pipelines one month learning period is sufficient.

What is a leak trial?

A leak trial is an actual fluid withdrawal test for a leak detection system. It requires fluid or gas to be removed from the pipeline thus is a demanding task for the customer. As an alternative, leak tests can be performed with simulated data.

Fact sheet: High consequence areas (HCA)

Consequences of pipelines spills can vary greatly, depending on where the release occurs, and the commodity involved in the release.

Releases from pipelines can adversely affect human health and safety, cause environmental degradation, and damage personal or commercial property.

US pipeline safety regulations use the concept of 'high consequence areas' (HCAs), to identify specific areas where a leak could have the most significant consequences. Once identified, operators are required to devote additional focus, efforts, and analysis in HCAs to ensure the integrity of pipelines.

What criteria define HCA’s for pipelines?

HCAs for natural gas transmission pipelines focus solely on populated areas.

Identification of HCAs for hazardous liquid pipelines focus pipelines that pass close to populated areas, drinking water sources, and unusually sensitive ecological resources. Drinking water sources include those supplied by surface water or wells and where a secondary source of water supply is not available. The land area in which spilled hazardous liquid could affect the water supply is also treated as an HCA.

Unusually sensitive ecological areas include locations where critically imperiled species can be found, areas where multiple examples of federally listed threatened and endangered species are found, and areas where migratory water birds concentrate.

Good engineering practices and pipeline regulations require an operator to take measures to mitigate the consequences of a pipeline failure that could affect a high consequence area, and suggest improvements that can include augmenting the leak detection systems that detect leaks in a HCA segment.

What certifications and qualifications does Atmos system carry? What trade bodies does it belong to?

ISO 9001 Quality Management

This is the ‘world’s most widely recognized quality management standard'. In order to receive the quality standard, Atmos has proved itself to have implemented clear business processes, a high quality service, and well trained employees in all of the projects that we carry out.

Microsoft Gold Partner

Atmos has achieved Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status for the three consecutive years. Microsoft certified partners are independent companies that supply products and services related to Microsoft. Gold Certified Partner status, the highest membership level, means that Atmos has ‘demonstrated a “best-in-class” ability' to meet the ever changing needs of Microsoft customers within a specific area.

IATA Strategic Partner

International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 240 airlines or 84% of total air traffic. IATA’s mission is to “represent, lead and serve the airline industry”. The partnership ensures that Atmos is constantly abreast of the needs of the industry and continues to develop our aviation solutions in line with the market needs.

Business Associate to the Pipeline Industries Guild

The Pipeline Industries Guild (PIG) is the only association for the pipeline industry to encompass every “engineering discipline, application, [and] qualification” as well as being relevant to all pipeline fluids. The PIG is held in high esteem and is the go-to directory for pipeline solutions. Membership gives Atmos access to an exclusive network of business leaders who are active across the pipeline industry..

Is the performance of a system affected by the pipeline length?

Atmos systems have worked effectively on pipelines between 2 and 1800 kilometers. The performance on each pipeline depends more on the level and quality of instrumentation system than the length. If intermediate pressure measurements are available along a very long pipeline, high performance systems can be delivered.

Do Atmos systems work on lines with different pipeline diameters?

Yes. Atmos LDS systems work for pipelines with varying diameters. No change in leak detection performance but some increase in the location error.

What is the maximum number of inlet/outlet points that Atmos can handle in one system?

There is no limit in the maximum number of inlet and outlet points. Since a modern computer is powerful enough to handle thousands of signal points from the field, Atmos systems are able to process all these signals within 1 to 10 seconds depending on the sample intervals.

Can additional branches be added to a system once it is installed?

Yes, additional branches can be included to the online system as the field instruments become available. Some of our systems experience continuous expansion as the clients’ needs change. Support for the ongoing changes is always available or the clients may choose to make the required changes themselves.

Do Atmos systems require specialist instrumentation?

Atmos systems work with any type of industry standard instrumentation. For the optimal performance some specific instruments may be recommended.

What is the effect of instrument quality on Atmos systems?

The quality of field instruments for flow and pressure measurements is important for pipeline integrity monitoring. Typically the better the instruments, the higher the performance of the leak detection and simulation system. However, all Atmos systems are robust for instrument errors and failures.

What fluids can Atmos systems be used for?

Atmos systems have been implemented on more than 70 different types of fluid including:

- Crude oil
- Natural gas
- Aviation fuel, diesel, gasoline
- Chemicals such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, ethylene, chlorine
- LPG and NGL
- Multi-phase
- Water
- Slurry

When the pipelines are shut-in, can Atmos still perform leak detection?

Yes, Atmos systems detect leaks when the pipeline is shut-in as long as at least one pressure measurement is available for the shut-in section.

How does Atmos identify a leak from operational changes such as pipeline slack, transients and line packing?

Atmos systems monitor the flow and pressure in a pipeline and perform pattern recognition to identify operational changes continuously.

The fluid compressibility is included in the volume balance calculations through the use of flow and pressure measurement data. Inventory changes due to fluid compressibility can be represented by pressure variations during most operating conditions.

When pumping into a slack line, the inventory will increase in the line as it packs. Thus, the inlet flow will be greater than the outlet flow. However, the pattern recognition tool will identify that the pipeline pressure is increasing as the line packs.

If a real leak occurs, the Atmos systems will identify the changes in flow and pressure that are unique to a leak. Thus, the pattern recognition tool will confirm it as a leak.

In addition Atmos systems have been proven to be able to detect leaks under severe transient operating conditions e.g. during a pump switch over. This feature has been approved by TUV in Germany and published in a paper at the International Pipeline Conference in 2004.

Pigging a pipeline affects both the flow and the pressure. How does Atmos Pipe accommodate these changes?

Pigging does introduce changes in the flow and pressure data, it reduces pipeline friction as well. The flow and pressure become more noisy during pigging. Atmos Pipe continues to perform effectively during pigging by increasing the variance (the uncertainty) of the statistical calculations. Leaks will still be detected during pigging but the detection time will be slightly longer.

Videos

An introduction to Atmos An introduction to Atmos
High Consequence Areas High Consequence Areas
Atmos Maintenance Service Atmos Maintenance Service
Pipeline Guardian Pipeline Guardian
Atmos Rupture Detector Atmos Rupture Detector
Atmos products overview Atmos products overview
Atmos Leak and Theft Detection Suite Atmos Leak and Theft Detection Suite
Atmos Simulation Suite Atmos Simulation Suite
Gassco and Atmos SIM Gassco and Atmos SIM
Atmos pipeline trainer Atmos pipeline trainer
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