Protecting pipelines

 By Peter Ward

Pipelines require constant attention. In dangerous locations, they are prime targets for terrorist attacks, and in remote areas, they are difficult to monitor for leaks and breaks. Luckily, thermal imaging is providing a solution…

Last October, and again in November, a Nigerian militant group attacked pipelines in the African country. In the more recent case, the group detonated explosives on a pipeline in the creeks of the Warri South West Council Area of Delta State. The group has claimed responsibility for both incidents and says it plans more attacks in the future.

This is just an example of the types of attacks being planned against pipelines, and a reminder of why security needs to be tight on oil and gas infrastructure. One solution is to deploy thermal imaging cameras to protect them. One such example is the Electro Optical Industries Spynel cameras, which are 360-degree thermal imaging systems. Thermal imaging cameras are capable of giving early intrusion alerts to a number of targets, such as men, boats, drones and stealth aircraft.

Thermal imaging is also used to make sure pipelines are not leaking gas or oil. Pipelines are often located underground or in remote areas where there are no roads. That means the technology used to check the pipes must be easy to use and mobile. One solution has been to combine thermal imaging systems with drones.

Example of a thermal imagine

The operator is able to control the drone from a safe location and can cover large areas. A traditional camera can only detect so much, which is where thermal cameras really earn back the outlay. These types of cameras are capable of detecting defects and recording the thermal radiation of objects. Thermal imaging cameras also increase the safety of the workers who are looking for leaks. With these cameras, workers can scan for emissions without having to enter a potentially hazardous area.

FLIR Systems recently unveiled an optical gas imaging camera for the oil and gas industry, deigned for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. “With the recent tightening of methane regulations both in the United States and globally, oil and gas producers need a fast and safe way to find and image gas emissions,” said Andy Teich, President and CEO at FLIR. “With the ability to keep workers safe and identify greenhouse gases such as methane, the GFx320 represents another critical example of FLIR’s technology helping to protect lives and preserve the environment,” he added.

SEE MORE: Cyber insurance for oil companies by Chris Dalby

about the author
Peter Ward
Business and technology reporter based in New York. MA in Business Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School 2013. Five years experience reporting in the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.