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1 Copyright 2012 by ASME

DETECTION OF SMALL LEAKS IN LIQUID PIPELINES UTILIZING DISTRIBUTED


TEMPERATURE SENSING


Shane P. Siebenaler
Southwest Research Institute


San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
Gary R. Walter, Ph.D.
Southwest Research Institute


San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.



ABSTRACT

Leaks from hazardous liquid pipelines can have
significant impacts on safety and the environment. The
detection of such leaks in their infancy is important to the
overall integrity management of pipelines. The traditional
means of detecting leaks on this infrastructure typically involve
visual inspection or computational monitoring. However, such
methods are often inadequate for detecting and locating small
discharges that can result in damage to the environment. One
potential alternative technology is distributed temperature
sensing (DTS).

The analytical work in this paper details near-field
thermal effects surrounding the pipeline, seasonal and diurnal
impacts on temperature as a function of buried depth, and the
impact of transient temperature response from batch product
operations. The analysis demonstrated that DTS employed on a
buried transmission line would be immune from many of these
effects and would not generate numerous false alarms due to
these conditions.

Laboratory testing was conducted on both Brillouin
and Raman-based DTS systems; a total of four different
manufacturers products were utilized. The testing
characterized any limitations of such systems as a function of
wetted length. The testing demonstrated that such technology
could accurately detect small temperature fluctuations over
distances exceeding 12 km (7.5 mi) to a location with a
resolution of one meter. In addition to sensitivity testing of the
systems, the automated alarm systems were tested to ensure
that the systems could detect leaks without generating
numerous false alarms.

INTRODUCTION
Within the oil and gas industry, a widely-used
application of DTS is in downhole temperature profiling.
Various commercial entities have also begun implementing
DTS on pipelines. There are two different fundamental means
of performing DTS: Brillouin and Raman. While each utilizes
different optical technologies, their general mechanism for
detecting leaks is the same. The DTS system breaks the fiber
into approximate one-meter monitoring lengths along the entire
fiber. The temperature over each segment is monitored
continuously and point-to-point values are compared in the
time domain. If a hydrocarbon at a different temperature from
the surrounding soil (and fiber) contacts the fiber, it would be
expected that a sudden change in temperature would be
detected. An alarm threshold is set by the system to be able to
interpret various temperature disturbances as being the result of
leaks. In general, DTS vendors recommend burying a sensor
cable 15.2 cm (6 in) below a liquid pipeline. For the case of
transporting volatile natural gas liquids (NGLs), the fiber
should be laid above the pipe as Joule-Thomson cooling will
result in an upward cooling pattern.
There are potential advantages of utilizing DTS over
other leak detection technologies. First, the sensor cable is not
impacted by conditions (other than temperature) inside of the
pipe. For example, pipeline noise, slack flow, change in
operating flow rate, etc., do not have an effect on performance.
Second, DTS provides a means of accurately locating leaks
along any segment of a pipeline. Some DTS systems with
single-mode lasers can cover segments more than 50 km
(31 mi) in length without the need for any amplifiers or
additional hardware.
There is a lack of available data to determine the
suitability for DTS in regards to detecting small leaks on liquid
pipelines. A project was undertaken to study the physics of
such small leaks and determine if the sensitivity of DTS
systems is appropriate for detecting the leaks. Both analytical
work and testing were performed and the results are
summarized in this paper.
TRANSIENT TEMPERATURE EFFECTS
DTS systems discretize a length of fiber into data
points (typically one-meter averages). The temperature at each
Proceedings of the 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference
IPC2012
September 24-28, 2012, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
IPC2012-90144
2 Copyright 2012 by ASME
of these points is compared with past readings to determine if a
deviation occurs. Events such as batched pipeline operations
and diurnal temperature changes may impact system reliability
as they could induce a temperature change. The analyses in the
subsequent sections of this paper address some of these
common scenarios. It should be noted that the changes to the
baseline temperature reading would have to occur in less than
the temporal resolution of the monitoring system, typically
within a few minutes, otherwise the temperature baseline would
be reset to the disturbed temperature and the leak would not be
detected.
Near-Field Temperature Changes
Buried pipe with internal fluid flow will influence the
near-field temperature of the surrounding soil. A first-order
estimate of this temperature disturbance can be made by
considering a cross section of a pipe residing in a semi-infinite
soil medium. If the fluid in the pipe is at a constant
temperature at the cross section, there will be a continuous heat
flow into the soil and a steady-state condition will be created in
the soil. Product literature for DTS systems suggest that the
cable be placed 10.2 cm (4 in) to 15.2 cm (6 in) below a
pipeline carrying liquid products. If the temperature at these
depths is too close to the pipeline fluid temperature, the DTS
system will be ineffective, as there will not be a suitable
temperature gradient induced upon a leak.
The steady temperature distribution around a buried,
heated pipe can be estimated using a standard equation for
steady heat flow from a cylindrical source held at constant
temperature [1]:
I

= I
p

ln(r
c
r )
ln(r
c
r
p
)

(1)
where
T
r
is the temperature increase in the soil at radius r
from the centerline of the pipe,
T
p
is the difference between flow fluid temperature
and ambient soil temperature,
r
e
is the effective radius in the soil at which the
temperature is assumed ambient (>>r),
r

is the radial distance from the centerline of the pipe,
and
r
p
is the radius of pipe.
In the case of a pipe buried at a finite depth (-z) below
the ground surface where atmospheric temperature is assumed
to be constant, the temperature in the half-plane below the
surface can be approximated by adding an image sink located at
+z above the ground using the principle of superposition.
Thus, the net temperature increase is:
I

= I
p
|
ln(r
c
r )
ln(r
c
r
p
)
-
ln(r
c
r

)
ln(r
c
r
p
)
|
(2)
where
r
i
is the radial distance from the centerline of the
image pipe, and
r
e
>> 2z.
A baseline case was calculated assuming a 30.5-cm
(12-in) diameter pipe buried at 122 cm (48 in) of depth with an
ambient soil temperature of 13C (55F). The near-field
heating was evaluated for pipe fluid temperatures at 16C
(61F), 18C (64F), and 24C (75F). These fluid
temperatures produced overall differences relative to normal
soil conditions of 1.6C (3F), 2.7C (5F), and 5.9C (10F),
respectively, at 15 cm (6 in) below the pipe (Fig. 1). To
illustrate, take the case of 18C (64F) fluid with a cable buried
15.2 cm (6 in) below the pipeline. The actual soil temperature
at that depth would be 15.5C (60F), not the far-field
temperature of 13C (55F). Thus, the DTS system would only
have a 2.5C (4.5F) difference with which to detect a leak in
this scenario.
In the 10.2-cm (4-in) to 15.2-cm (6-in) depth range of
a DTS cable for a variety of diameters and pipeline depths, the
soil temperature is approximately 50% of the difference
between the pipe and the far-field soil. These data have two
important implications. The first is that there does not appear
to be a need to keep the cable farther away from the pipe than
the current recommended range of 10.2 cm (4 in) to 15.2 cm (6
in). Second, any laboratory testing involving immersion baths
must be viewed in the context that the applied temperature
gradient is actually lower than the actual pipe-soil difference in
an actual pipeline application. For example, test results in a
laboratory test of 2.7C (5F) applied at the cable may be
indicative of a temperature gradient of 5.5C (10F) at the leak.

FIGURE 1 - STEADY TEMPERATURE DIFFERENCE FROM
PIPE AT LOCATION OF CABLE
Batched Operations
The calculations in the previous subsection represent a
pseudo steady-state behavior of near-field heating. However,
3 Copyright 2012 by ASME
many pipelines use batch operations that result in the loading of
fluids at different initial temperatures. Even though there is
some mixing of fluids at its interface, the worst-case scenario
for a DTS system would be a traveling boundary that generates
a sudden change in soil temperature at a given location as the
temperature boundary slides past this location.
A numerical model was used to compute transient heat
flow and temperature changes in soil around a buried pipe
experiencing a sudden change in temperature. The basis for the
numerical model is briefly described in Appendix A.
Figure 2 shows the temperature response in dry sand
at various distances from the pipe wall for a temperature
change of 5.5C (10F). These plots demonstrate that the
transient soil response is slow enough to not have any impact
on DTS functionality. Similar results were obtained for other
soil types. This work demonstrates that the reliability of DTS
technology is not compromised by batched pipeline operations
when the system response is orders of magnitude lower than the
physical response.

FIGURE 2 - SOIL TEMPERATURE CHANGE AT GIVEN
POINT FOR INITIAL DELTA OF 5.5C (10F) IN DRY SAND
The change in gradient is slow enough to not impact the DTS
systems.

Surface Temperature Effects
DTS systems detect leaks by determining changes in
temperature as compared with a baseline reading over a given
segment of the fiber. The resolve time between real time and
the baseline can be as low as a few minutes or up to a few
hours. It is important to understand if the baseline (i.e.,
background soil temperature) will fluctuate significantly within
the resolve time window due to diurnal or weather-related soil
surface temperature changes. The parameter of interest is the
temperature of the soil at the buried depth of the cable due to
changes in surface temperatures. The temperature variation at
the depth of the fiber due to variations in the surface
temperature can be estimated using the following equation [2]:
I(z) = I
o
c
-z.n uP

(3)
where
T(z) is the temperature range at depth z,
T
o
is the surface temperature,
is the thermal diffusivity, and
P is the period of surface variation.
This equation assumes uniform soil distribution. In
the case of a trench containing a large diameter pipe, the
presence of the pipe will influence the temperature beneath the
pipe. Because the thermal diffusivity of the liquid in the
pipeline is less than that of the soil, the pipe may act as an
insulator by damping the influence of the surface temperature
variation. While the metal pipe would act as a conductor, it
would be reasonable to assume that the temperature variation at
depth is no worse than the calculations presented here. The
purpose of this one-dimensional analysis is to assess the change
in temperature, not the absolute temperature, resulting from a
temperature change.
As a baseline case, the diurnal temperature variation
over one day was assumed to be 11C (52F). The actual
surface temperature variation over the resolve window would
likely be considerably less, but 11C (52F) gives an upper-
bound scenario. Figure 3 provides the resulting temperature
variation over a period of one day as a function of depth. As
the figure shows, the variation is virtually zero at about 61 cm
(24 in) of buried depth. Thus, at the typical buried depths of a
DTS fiber [91 cm (36 in) to 152 cm (60 in) below surface], the
diurnal (and seasonal) temperature changes at the surface will
not impact the reliability of the DTS system.

FIGURE 3 - TEMPERATURE VARIATION OVER ONE DAY
AS A FUNCTION OF DEPTH
The surface temperature variation for this example is 11C
(52F).
FLUID PROPAGATION
It is critical to understand the movement of fluid in
various soils caused by a leak and to characterize the resulting
thermal profile to determine the suitability of DTS for detecting
small leaks. Testing was conducted to determine the transient
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
2.0
1 10 100 1000
D
e
l
t
a

(
C
)
Time(minutes)
1in
2in
4in
6in
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
0 5 10 15 20 25
T
e
m
p
e
r
a
t
u
r
e
V
a
r
i
a
t
i
o
n

(
C
)
Depth(in)
DrySand
SandyClay
WetSoil
4 Copyright 2012 by ASME
temperature profile of the fluid as it propagates through the
soil; specifically, the temperature that the cable would be
exposed to if a particular size leak of various temperature
conditions was initiated. Particular interest was paid to the
temperature on the order of 15.2 cm (6 in) from the leak source,
as this distance would be typical of vendor recommendations
for DTS installation.
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR 195)
has reporting requirements for hazardous liquid pipelines of
spills in excess of 19 liters (five gallons). As a starting point
for the DTS work, it would be prudent to detect a leak before it
grows to 19 liters (five gallons). The manufacturers of DTS
systems claim that a leak would be found in a matter of
minutes. As a baseline, it was assumed that a leak must be
found within two hours and that the maximum spilled volume
would be 19 liters (five gallons) (this approximation does not
account for subsequent spillage that will occur when the
pipeline unloads). Thus, the initial maximum flow rate utilized
for testing was 9.5 liters-per-hour (lph) (2.5 gallons-per-hour
(gph)).
A test apparatus was designed and fabricated to allow
for the injection of heated fluid (crude oil surrogate or gasoline)
into a bed of compacted soil. The size of the soil bed was
selected through various testing runs to ensure that the
boundary did not impact the movement of fluid. A large, clear
acrylic tube was selected in the end as the reservoir for this
testing. The testing found that flow rates below 4.7 lph (1.25
gph) were not repeatable for most soils. It is likely that the
fluid fingered as it spread and did not make contact with
thermocouples during each test. The tests did demonstrate that
the type of soil, and hence its thermal properties, did not
significantly impact the results. Temperature gradients
exceeding 11C (52F) at a flow rate of 9.5 lph (2.5 gph) were
required to generate temperature changes at a distance of 15.2
cm (6 in) from the leak point. Thus, the testing showed that
small seepage leaks equilibrate quickly to the temperature of
the large soil environment. Analysis discussed later in this
paper provides additional context to these observations

Testing was also conducted utilizing pressurized liquid
propane as the fluid media. This testing demonstrated that,
even for very small releases, temperature drop on the order of
28C (82F) was experienced over 30.5 cm (1 ft) away from the
source and that an ice ball formed from latent vapor in the soil.
In addition to the large gradients, the long-term exposure of the
soil to this temperature makes it very likely that DTS would be
able to detect such leaks. Even if the flowing fluid is at thermal
equilibrium with the soil, the phase change resulting from a
leak can generate significant temperature gradients.
The testing work demonstrated that small seepage
leaks behave in a non-repeatable fashion. Some background
analysis was performed to provide context to these results.
Soil, including backfill, subject to a leak from a buried liquid
hydrocarbon pipeline can be characterized as a four-phase
system where the phases are the backfill/soil solids, air, water,
and liquid hydrocarbon. These phases are essentially
immiscible. The patterns by which the hydrocarbon from a
pipeline leak may spread through the soil can be described as
sharp, fingered, or diffuse, as illustrated in Fig. 4. Sharp
refers to the case where the hydrocarbon uniformly displaces
the soil air and water (on a macroscopic scale) so that a
discrete, relatively smooth surface exists between the
contaminated and uncontaminated soil. Fingered refers to the
case where the front between the hydrocarbon contaminated
soil and uncontaminated soil is not smooth, but rather displays
sharp protuberances (fingers), although the local boundaries
between hydrocarbon contaminated soil and uncontaminated
soil may still be sharp. Fingered flow may be due to the
hydrodynamic instability of the moving hydrocarbon front or
due to the presence of heterogeneities in the permeability and
water saturation of the soil (e.g., [3]). Finally, diffuse flow
refers to the case where the hydrocarbon does not entirely
displace the soil, air, and water (on a macroscopic scale), but
commingles with these other fluid phases so that soil fluid
composition can be characterized by air, water, and
hydrocarbon saturations that vary continuously within the
contaminated zone. Diffuse flow is actually a special case of
sharp flow in which the hydrocarbon does not completely
displace the air and water in the contaminated zone. This
scenario will be the usual case for partially-saturated soil
subject to an intermediate-sized leak. A mixture of air, water.
and hydrocarbon will exist within the contaminated zone with
the possibility of macroscopic, air- or water-saturated pockets,
depending on the heterogeneity of the soil.


FIGURE 4 - THREE CASES OF HYDROCARBON
MOVEMENT FROM A PIPELINE LEAK: A. MOVEMENT AS A
SHARP FRONT. B. MOVEMENT THROUGH DISCRETE
FINGERS OR CHANNELS. C. MOVEMENT AS A DIFFUSE
PLUME.
Small leaks are likely to result in fluid movement through
discrete fingers (Image B).
5 Copyright 2012 by ASME
These flow patterns are not mutually exclusive, but
may evolve with time and the extent of the hydrocarbon
release. Which flow pattern exists during a particular period of
the release depends on the rate of release, the texture (soil grain
size distribution) and initial water content of the soil, and the
heterogeneity of the soil.
Liquid Movement
Petroleum products released from the pipeline may
either disperse through the soil or move through the soil as
discrete fingers and not as a plume. In the case of small leaks,
the possibility of fingering is strong, especially if the soil has
relatively high water content. Fingering represents the worst-
case scenario for leak detection based on temperature, since the
leaking product may not directly contact the sensor. In this
case, the detection of the leak requires an increase in the soil
temperature at the fiber location.
As a first approximation, the product finger can be
treated as a line source of heat in the soil with product flowing
through the finger at a constant rate. The strength of the source
is:
0
H
=
0
p

p
I
p
c
p

s
c
s
I

(4)
where
Q
H
is the strength of the source,
Q
p
is the volumetric leak rate,

p
is the product density,
T
p
is the product temperature,
c
p
is the product specific heat capacity,

s
is the soil density,
c
s
is the soil heat capacity, and
L is the length of the finger.
The heat supplied by the leak is assumed to be
released over the length of the finger. This assumption
probably overestimates the rate at which heat is released from
the product and the resulting temperature increase. Based on
this conceptual model of the product finger, the temperature at
a radial distance from the finger can be approximated by[1]:
I(r, t) =
0
H
4no
Ei |
-r
2
4ot
|
(5)
where
T(r,t) is the temperature in the soil at radial distance r
(cm) and time t (sec),
is the thermal diffusivity of the soil (cm
2
/s), and
Ei is the exponential integral.
The exponential integral was computed using
numerical approximations from [4]. A set of calculations was
performed to determine the elapsed time for conduction
through the soil by the finger, assuming heat was released from
the finger at a constant rate. To get even a 0.5C (0.9F) rise in
temperature 15.2 cm (6 in) from the finger required almost 200
minutes. This time is in excess of the one-hour sampling
baseline that was used for testing. Thus, it is assumed that
direct contact with the fiber will be required for the DTS
system to detect a liquid hydrocarbon release moving through
the soil by finger flow. Such behavior was observed during
testing previously described in this paper.
The conditions for sharp versus fingered flow were
recognized by the petroleum industry with respect to secondary
oil recovery using water flood technology and analyzed using
linear instability analysis (e.g., [5]). Linear instability analysis
has been used to determine the necessary and sufficient
conditions for a sharp front between two immiscible phases in a
homogeneous, porous medium to become unstable and develop
fingers, as illustrated in Fig. 5. Linear instability analysis
considers the potential for a small perturbation in a sharp
moving front of a displacing fluid to grow and move faster than
the average displacement velocity of the front. The necessary
condition for instability is [5, 6]:
-I +e
(
w
-
nw
)gkcos [
(
w
-
nw
)
- e
|o|ko
2
(
w
-
nw
)
> u
(6)
where
I is the average specific flux of the displacing fluid
(Darcian velocity),

w
is the density of the wetting fluid,

nw
is the density of the non-wetting fluid,

w
is the dynamic viscosity of the wetting fluid,

nw
is the dynamic viscosity of the non-wetting fluid,
g is gravitational acceleration,
k is the intrinsic permeability of the soil to the
displacing fluid,
[ is the angle between the direction of gravity and the
direction of displacing fluid movement,
e is a wettability index equal to 1 for a wetting fluid
displacing a non-wetting fluid and -1 in the opposite case,
o is the effective interfacial tension in the porous
medium between the fluids, and
o is a perturbation to the displacement front.
In the case of vertically downward movement
(cos([) = 1), the equation can be simplified by letting
I
g
=
(
w
-
nw
)gk
(
w
-
nw
)

(7)
and
I
c
=
|o|ko
2
(
w
-
nw
)

(8)
so that
-I + eI
g
- eI
c
> u
(9)
6 Copyright 2012 by ASME
The second term on the left-hand side represents the
influence of gravitational and viscous forces on the movement
of the fluid and the third term is the influence of capillary
forces.
The role played by capillary forces depends on
whether the displacing liquid is a wetting or non-wetting phase.
In the case of a displacing fluid that wets the soil, the capillary
force will tend to stabilize the front and reduce fingering. If the
displacing fluid is non-wetting, the effective interfacial tension
is intrinsically negative and the capillary force will destabilize
the front. In the case of a petroleum hydrocarbon from a
pipeline leak, whether or not the hydrocarbon acts as a wetting
phase depends on the initial state of the surrounding soil.
Except in the case of an extremely dry soil, the soil can be
assumed to be water-wet, even if the soil is not water saturated.
This is because the soil water content is sufficiently high so that
thin layers of water are present around the grains in the soil,
even if interconnected water films are not present.

FIGURE 5 - MOVEMENT OF AN IMMISCIBLE FLUID
THROUGH A HOMOGENEOUS SOIL ACCORDING TO
LINEAR INSTABILITY ANALYSIS: A. MOVEMENT OF A
STABLE FRONT. B. INSTABILITIES LEAD TO FINGERING
AHEAD OF AVERAGE DISPLACEMENT FRONT.
Small leaks are expected to exhibit the flow profile shown in the
figure on the right.
Table 1 presents the conditions necessary for fingering
to develop for two cases of a hydrocarbon infiltrating
downward through soil from a pipeline leak. Case 1 is the case
for an extremely dry soil in which the hydrocarbon is
displacing air and the hydrocarbon wets the soil. In this case,
the term I
g
is approximately equal to the effective hydraulic
conductivity of the hydrocarbon in the soil or the gravity
drainage rate, because the density and viscosity of air (the non-
wetting fluid) are much less than those of the hydrocarbon.
This situation will only occur (if at all) in a very dry, coarse-
grained soil, in which case the capillary term will be small.
Using the criteria in Table 1, fingering will be likely to occur if
the rate of hydrocarbon movement through the soil due to the
leak is less than the effective hydraulic conductivity of the soil;
that is, the leak is small so that the hydrocarbon drains by
gravity through the soil without ponding or a pressure gradient
created by the leak. Thus, for a leak of 0.2 cm
3
/s (.01 in
3
/s) into
a sandy soil with a hydraulic conductivity to the hydrocarbon of
10
-3
cm/s, the leak would have to cover an area beneath the pipe
of less than 200 cm
2
(0.2 cm
3
/s divided by 10
-3
cm/s) for the
downward drainage rate to exceed the gravity drainage rate.
This would represent a hydrocarbon pool diameter of
approximately 15.2 cm (6 in). Otherwise, the hydrocarbon
front will be unstable and subject to fingering. As the
permeability of the soil decreases, the gravity drainage rate, I
g
,
decreases and fingering will become less likely. However,
lower soil permeability also implies a finer-grained soil that is
less likely to be dry.
Case 2 represents the case of a very wet soil so that the
hydrocarbon is displacing water. In this case, the displacement
rate of the hydrocarbon must also be less than I
g
- I
c
for
fingering to occur. Because the gravitational drainage term,
I
g
, is much less than in Case 1, being proportional to the
density difference divided by the viscosity difference, the
hydrocarbon front will tend to be stable at a lower leakage rate
and the hydrocarbon more likely to advance as a sharp front.
A third case is actually more likely than either Case 1
or Case 2. Case 3 occurs when the soil has a high enough water
content that all of the solids are water-wet, but the soil is only
partially saturated with water. In this case, water will fill the
smaller pores and air will fill the larger pores, even though the
soil solids are water-wet. At low leakage rates, the invading
hydrocarbon will be the non-wetting fluid and flow
preferentially through the larger, air-filled pores, primarily
displacing air. This case falls outside of the domain of linear
stability analysis because the soil can no longer be assumed to
be homogeneous and the displaced fluid (air) is not the wetting
fluid [3]. Fingering or channeling is likely to occur at low rates
of leakage, and the degree of fingering will depend strongly on
the degree of heterogeneity of the soil and its water content.
TABLE 1 - CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR FINGERING
(INSTABILITY) FOR THREE CASES OF VERTICAL
HYDROCARBON MOVEMENT IN SOIL
C
a
s
e

S
c
e
n
a
r
i
o

W
e
t
t
i
n
g

P
h
a
s
e

W
e
t
t
a
b
i
l
i
t
y

(
e
)

p
w
-
p
n
w

u
w
-
u
n
w

F
g
u

F
c

F
i
n
g
e
r
i
n
g

i
f

1
Hydro-
carbon
displaces
air
Hydro-
carbon
1
>
0
>
0
>
0
>
0
I < I
g
-I
c

2
Hydro-
carbon
displaces
water
Water -1
>
0
<
0
<
0
<
0
I < I
g
+I
c


Fluid and Thermal Equilibrium
The testing results highlighted a potential problem that
the oil may quickly lose its temperature gradient as it travels
7 Copyright 2012 by ASME
through the soil. As a means of determining if there was
anything inherent in the test setup skewing the temperature
data, it was decided to pursue an analytical analog to the
testing. A summary of this analysis is provided in this section
and, as noted, the results mirror those found in testing.
The temperature response at a given distance from the
release point of a liquid or gas into the soil depends on the
temperature difference between the released fluid and the soil,
and on whether or not the fluid physically contacts the
temperature sensor. If the fluid does not physically contact the
sensor, then the temperature change is due solely to conduction
through the soil. It is unlikely that conduction will produce a
measurable temperature change. If the fluid reaches the sensor,
then the temperature change should be primarily due to direct
contact with the fluid. This scenario assumes that the volume
of fluid released is large enough to fill the void volume in the
soil between the release point and the sensor.
In the case where the fluid reaches the sensor, its
temperature will depend on how quickly the fluid and soil
temperatures equilibrate. The soil-fluid system can be
envisioned as a four-phase medium consisting of solid soil
particles with void space filled with air, water, and
hydrocarbon. The temperature in the pipeline fluid will depend
on the rate at which the soil solids and water thermally
equilibrate with the pipeline fluid relative to the rate at which
the fluid moves through the soil (air in the soil can be ignored
because of its low heat capacity). A first-order estimate of the
rate at which the soil solids, soil water, and pipeline fluid
thermally equilibrate can be made by considering each phase to
occupy spherical volumes dispersed in the soil. As a first
approximation, the void spaces between the solid soil particles
in a sandy soil occupied by either water or oil can be treated as
having the same diameter as sand grains. In this case, the
temperature difference between the center of each spherical
volume and the surrounding materials is given [1]:
I
c
- I
s
I
0
- I
s
= 2 `(-1)
n
exp (-on
2

n=1
n
2
tr
2
)
(10)
where
I
c
is the temperature at the center of the sphere,
I
s
is the temperature at the surface of the sphere,
assumed to be constant,
I
0
is the initial temperature in the sphere, assumed to
be uniform,
o is the thermal diffusivity of the sphere,
t is time, and
r is the radius of the sphere.
Table 2 lists the time required for soil solids (quartz
sand), soil water, and an oily pipeline liquid (vegetal oil
properties used as a pipeline liquid surrogate) in a sand with a
mean grain diameter of 0.02 cm (0.008 in), to reach 90% of
thermal equilibrium. As indicated by Table 2, equilibration
between the three phases should occur within a matter of
seconds after a heated pipeline fluid enters the soil.
TABLE 2. EQUILIBRIUM TIMES FOR SOIL PHASES BASED
ON 20C (36F) TEMPERATURE DIFFERENCES
Equilibrium time is virtually instantaneous, so cooling may
commence rapidly.
PHASE
THERMAL
DIFFUSIVITY
(cm
2
/s)
EQUILIBRATION
TIME
(seconds)
Sand 4.4 10
-2
0.05
Water 1.4 10
-3
1.6
Oil 9.8 10
-4
2.4
For comparison, the rate of expansion of the fluid
through the soil can be estimated by assuming that the fluid
expands in a spherical manner from the release point by:
r =

S0t
4n u.S
3

(11)
where
0 is the volumetric release rate,
r is the radius filled with the pipeline fluid, and
the equation assumes a 30% porosity.
Figure 6 shows the radius of the injected fluid and rate of radial
expansion as a function of injection rate. The expansion rates
in Fig. 6 are slow relative to the equilibration times in Table 2,
indicating that as the pipeline fluid expands through the soil, it
should be in approximate thermal equilibrium with the soil and
soil water. It should be noted that this figure represents ideal
fluid expansion in all directions and does not account for the
fact that gravity would cause a more conical-shaped expansion.
Additionally, variations in pore space would result in some
fluid being shielded from contact with the soil. Such behavior
was observed during testing as more loosely-packed soil
allowed for fluid to travel further before its heat was removed.

FIGURE 6 - RADIUS OF EXPANSION OF FLUID THROUGH
SOIL
This figure does not account for gravity and it assumes a
porosity of 30%.
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
4.5
0 50 100 150 200
R
a
d
i
u
s

o
f

E
x
p
a
n
s
i
o
n

(
i
n
)
ElapsedTime(sec)
300mL/min
150mL/min
75mL/min
8 Copyright 2012 by ASME
Assuming that the soil phases reach thermal
equilibrium, the temperature in the pipeline fluid (and soil) can
be estimated from the heat content of the released fluid and the
volume-weighted heat capacity of the soil. The volume-
weighted heat capacity is given by:
C

= I
]s

s
C
s
+I
]w

w
C
w
+ I
]o

o
C
o

(12)
where
C

is the volume-weighted volumetric heat capacity of


the soil, water, and pipeline fluid,
I
]s
is the volume fraction of the sand,
I
]w
is the volume fraction of the water,
I
]o
is the volume fraction of the pipeline fluid,

s
is the grain density of the soil solid,

w
is the density of the water,

o
is the density of the pipeline fluid,
C
s
is the heat capacity of the soil solid,
C
w
is the heat capacity of the water, and
C
o
is the heat capacity of the pipeline fluid.
Assuming that the soil and pipeline fluid thermally
equilibrate, the resulting temperature of the pipeline fluid (and
soil) depends on the volume of oil injected into the soil, the
volume of soil it occupies, and the initial temperature
difference between the soil and the soil according to:
I =
I
o
C
o

o
I
0
C

I
s
=
I
]o
C
o

o
I
0
C


(13)
where
I
0
is the initial temperature difference between the
pipeline fluid and the soil, and
I
s
is the bulk volume of soil occupied by the pipeline
fluid.
Note that I
o
I
s
is the volume fraction of the fluid, I
]o
.

The thermal properties needed to compute the
temperature rise for vegetal oil, assuming a quartz sand soil, are
listed in Table 3. Assuming a total porosity of 30%, a water
saturation of 10%, and that vegetal oil fully saturates the void
space not occupied by soil water, the volume fractions of soil
solids (quartz), water, and vegetal oil are 0.70, 0.03, and 0.27,
respectively. Substituting these values into the heat capacity
equation gives a volume-weighted heat capacity of
0.47 cal/cm
3
-C. Figure 7 shows the actual difference after
equilibrium as a function of original difference for two different
water saturation levels. This estimate of the final temperature
would apply whether the oil spreads uniformly through the soil
or moves as fingers through the soil, because it depends only on
the volume of soil contacted by the oil. The temperature in the
oil would be lower if the oil does not fully saturate the soil.


TABLE 3 - PROPERTIES USED TO COMPUTE FINAL
SOIL/FLUID TEMPERATURE
PROPERTY QUARTZ
VEGETAL
OIL
WATER
Density (gm/cm
3
) 2.67 0.92 1.0
Heat Capacity (cal/gm-C) 0.18 0.44 1.0
Volumetric Heat Capacity
(cal/cm
3
-C)
0.48 0.40 1.0


FIGURE 7. TEMPERATURE DIFFERENCE AFTER
EQUILIBRIUM
As an example, a leak that started out with a 14C (25F)
difference would end up only 3.3C (6F) above the soil
temperature after equilibrium was reached.

DTS TESTING

The work outlined in the previous sections of this
paper address the physics of small leaks and potential
temperature effects that could be induced on a fiber-optic cable
buried near a pipeline. Another aspect in the evaluation of DTS
technology is to determine whether or not these systems would
be able to detect such temperature effects.
Four different DTS systems were investigated as part
of this work: one Brillouin-based system and three Raman-
based systems. The former utilized single-mode fibers and the
latter multi-mode. The fundamental difference between these
types of fibers is that single-mode fibers have a smaller core
through which light may travel. This feature results in only a
single path for light rays to reflect between the core and
surrounding cladding of the fiber, allowing for longer distances
over which light can propagate. Multi-mode fibers, due to the
larger core diameter, allow rays to travel different paths, as they
are reflected off the cladding at different incident angles.
While single-mode fibers allow for sensing over greater
distances, multi-mode fibers, in general, permit a higher
transmission of laser-pulse energy through fibers to improve
backscatter signal power.
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
F
i
n
a
l

G
r
a
d
i
e
n
t

(
C
)
InitialGradient(C)
30%Saturation
10%Saturation
9 Copyright 2012 by ASME
These systems were loaned to the project by various
manufacturers and tested with a common set of cables provided
by a cable manufacturer. Various cables were used during the
testing. The sensing sections of cable were approximately
150 m (492 ft) in length and were connected downstream of
bare fiber spools to simulate long distances. For example, 8 km
(5 mi) of bare fiber between the DTS interrogator and the 150-
m (492-ft) sensing section would provide an overall length of
8,150 m (26,739 ft). The addition of upstream fiber simulates
optical loss representative of that which would be experienced
in field applications. Testing was performed by applying
various temperature gradients to small sections of the fiber in a
laboratory environment to address the overall system sensitivity
and the ability of the system to discern a leak event from other
anomalies.
Sensitivity Testing
The sensitivity testing looked at the ability of the
system to detect small temperature fluctuations as a function of:
- Spatial resolution
- Time resolution
- Upstream fiber length
The wetted length for this testing was defined as the
length of cable exposed to a temperature gradient. For
configurations in which the wetted length exceeded the spatial
resolution of the configuration, the systems reliably detected
the magnitude of the temperature change. However, for cases
in which the wetted length was over a smaller interval than the
resolution, the overall temperature gradient was essentially
dampened. Figure 8 illustrates this observation. For a system
with one-meter resolution, a temperature gradient of x applied
over a distance greater than 1 m (3.3 ft) will be measured as x.
However, for a wetted length of 0.3 m (1 ft), the measured
temperature gradient will only be one-third of x. The testing
on all four systems replicated this effect. The implication of
this finding is that specified sensitivity must account for wetted
length. Small leaks that only impact small lengths of cable may
require relatively large gradients for detection.
The longer the resolve time of the system, the less
optical noise is present in the results. In other words, a system
that averages points over 30 seconds will have more noise than
those taken over 90 seconds as illustrated by Fig. 9. This figure
shows similar data points taken with leaks simulated over two
intervals. The figure on the left has a resolve window of 30
seconds and the one on the right 90 seconds. As the figure
demonstrates, the second peak is harder to discern for the
shorter interval. As noted earlier in this paper, rapid cooling of
fluids in small leaks may require relatively short resolve
windows, so sampling time can become an important
consideration for implementation of a DTS system.


FIGURE 8. DAMPENING OF TEMPERATURE GRADIENT
AMPLITUDE
For temperature changes induced over lengths exceeding
spatial resolution, DTS systems reliably detected the entire
amplitude. For lengths shorter than resolution, amplitude was
dampened by a factor correlating to the relative length of
exposure to spatial resolution.

FIGURE 9. RELATIVE NOISE APPARENT IN 30-SECOND
(LEFT) AND 90-SECOND (RIGHT) RESOLVE WINDOWS
The effects of upstream fiber length were similar to
that in Fig. 9 where long distances introduced more variability
in measurements at each time stamp. For the tested
configurations, Brillouin technologies reliably determined the
temperature amplitude at distances of 32 km (20 mi) and 12 km
(7.5 mi) for Raman systems, even for changes as small as 2C
(3.6F). In general, losses for the particular cables used in this
testing ranged from 0.1 dB/km to 0.3 dB/km, not including any
losses through splices and/or jumper connections. The ability
to determine the location of the leak did not change with fiber
length.
Alarm Testing
In field applications, the DTS systems are configured
to detect temperature gradients at a given point and to send an
alarm if a threshold is exceeded. Each system manufacturer
employs different algorithms for evaluating temperature
fluctuations. Testing was performed to determine if various
DTS systems would alarm to a leak without inadvertently
alarming for other reasons.
Data from the sensitivity tests taken with their units
were sent to each manufacturer, who then supplied an alarm
threshold recommendation based on the results. It is important
to note that other than simply providing the data, no further
guidance on alarm thresholds was offered. The testing was
performed in a blind study where unknowns included the
applied temperature gradients, length of test section, and
10 Copyright 2012 by ASME
sampling rate. Thus, no tuning of alarms was permitted once
testing commenced.
The objective of this exercise was to determine
whether the alarm algorithms provided by the manufacturers
could detect simulated leak events without also producing false
positives. Test section lengths ranged from 30 cm (1 ft) to 1 m
(3.3 ft). Testing was performed for one Brillouin and one
Raman system. The Brillouin was able to detect induced leaks
of 5C (9F) over wetted lengths of only 30 cm (1 ft) at overall
fiber distances of 32 km (20 mi) (without any false alarms. The
Raman-based system was able to detect the same gradient with
no false alarms over a distance of 4 km (2.5 mi).
CONCLUSIONS

Testing and analysis were conducted to study the
effects of small leaks and the ability of DTS systems to detect
these leaks. The analysis demonstrated that environmental
conditions such as diurnal temperature changes, batched
product operation, and surface temperature effects do not
adversely impact the ability of the systems to detect leaks.

Small leaks of liquid hydrocarbons may flow as small
fingers through the soil and must come in direct contact with
the fiber in order to be detected. Leaks of volatile compounds,
such as propane, have the potential to create very large
temperature swings in the soil surrounding a pipeline. It is very
likely that DTS would be a suitable tool for use in detecting
such leaks in a timely fashion.

Four different DTS units were tested with results
aligning with vendor claims. Two systems were tested to
determine if they could detect leaks without false alarms and
both systems performed well. The work on this project will
allow pipeline operators to determine the operational envelope
of DTS systems for specific pipeline applications.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors would like to thank the Pipeline Research
Council International (PRCI) for their financial support of this
work. Also acknowledged are Brugg Cables and the various
DTS manufacturers who provided equipment for testing.
REFERENCES

[1] Carlsaw, H.S. and Jaeger, J.C. 1959. Conduction of Heat in
Solids. Clarendon Press.

[2] Ingersoll, L.R., Zobel, O.J., and Ingersoll, A.C. 1954. Heat
Conduction. The University of Wisconsin Press.

[3] Kueper, B.H. and Frind, E.O. 1988. An overview of
immiscible fingering in porous media. Journal of Contaminant
Hydrology. Vol. 2, pp. 95-110.

[4] Abramowitz, M. and Stegun. I.A. 1972. Handbook of
Mathematic Functions. Dover Publications, New York.

[5] Chuoke, R.L., van Meurs, P. and van der Poel, C. 1959.
The instability of slow, immiscible, viscous liquid-liquid
displacements in permeable media. Petroleum Transactions,
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum
Engineers (AIME), Vol. 216, pp. 188-194.

[6] Wang, Z., J. Feyen and Elrick, D.E. 1998. Prediction of
fingering in porous media. Water Resources Research. Vol. 34,
pp. 2183-2190.

11 Copyright 2012 by ASME
APPENDIX A
DESCRIPTION OF NUMERICAL MODEL USED TO
COMPUTE TRANSIENT HEAT FLOW


The numerical grid used to simulate heat flow from a
buried pipe consisted of a vertical slice through the soil as
illustrated in Fig. A-1. The upper boundary represents the land
surface held at constant ambient temperature. The left-hand
side of the grid extends vertically through the centerline of the
pipe. The right-hand side and lower boundary of the grid were
set far enough from the pipe so as to have no influence on the
temperature distribution for the relatively short duration of the
simulations. Grid cells assigned to the pipe were held at a
constant temperature of 5.5 C (10 F) above ambient. The
initial temperature in the rest of the grid cells was ambient [0 C
(32 F) with respect to the pipe]. Since the thermal properties
assigned in the model are assumed to be independent of
temperature, the absolute temperatures assigned to the model
are inconsequential.

FIGURE A-1 - MODEL GRID USED FOR PIPE SIMULATIONS

The differential equations describing the flow of the
carrier fluid are derived from the integral equation for
conservation of heat in each finite volume cell of the flow
domain:
V Q d n T K
t
T
V c
H b
+ I - V =
c
c

I
p

(A-1)
where
cis the specific heat capacity of the soil [cal/gm-C],
b
p
is the bulk density of the soil [gm/cm
3
],
V is the cell volume [cm
3
],
T is temperature [C],
t
is time [sec],
K is the thermal conductivity of the soil [cal/cm-s-C],
Vis the gradient operator [1/cm],
I is the surface area of the cell [cm
2
],
_
n is the outward directed unit normal vector, and
H
Q
is the rate of heat generation per unit volume
[cal/cm
3
-s].
The equation above is discretized over a rectangular grid and
solved using a mixed explicit/implicit procedure (Neuman and
Narasimhan, 1977). The discretized form of the above equation
is:
m H n m
mn
mn
mn m b
V Q T T
L
A
K
t
T
V c + =
A
A

) ( p

(A-2)
where
the subscripts m and n indicate the m
th
and n
th

connected cells,
mn
K
is the thermal conductivity between m and n,
mn
A
is the area of the interface between m and n, and
mn
L
is the distance between the centers of m and n.
letting
mn
mn mn
mn
L
A K
B =
(A-3)
and
m b
m
V cp
|
1
=
(A-4)
The discretized equation can then be written as:
{ }

+ A = A
m H n m mn m m
V Q T T B t T ) ( |

(A-5)
12 Copyright 2012 by ASME
letting
m m m
T T T A +
0

(A-6)
and
n n n
T T T A +
0

(A-7)
where
is a weighting factor between 0.5 and 1, and
0
T is the value at the beginning of the time step.
Making these substitutions and rearranging the governing
equation gives:
( ) { }

A A + A A + A = A
m m n mn m mn m m m
T T B T B t T T |
exp

(A-8)
and
)
`

+ A = A

.
0 0
exp
) (
m H n m mn m m
V Q T T B t T |

The former equation represents the explicit portion of
m
T A

and the latter equation represents the implicit portion. The
equation can be written in matrix form as:
exp
T T A A = A
(A-9)
where

A
is a matrix of conductance terms,
T A
is the vector of unknown, I and
exp
T A

is the vector of known explicit

I.
The terms in
A

are:
m n t B t A
m m mn m mm
= A + A + =

; 1 | |
mn m mn
tB A A = |

(A-10)
This equation is solved using an iterative procedure with
incomplete LU preconditioning for sparse, non-symmetric
linear equations from Greenbaum and Seager (1989).