Hifi pipeline leak detection technology adds digital capabilities

Steven Koles, Hifi Engineering president and chief executive officer, showcasing the company's leak detection technology. Image: GE

Pipeline leak detection company Hifi Technologies says its fibre optic based technology is gaining traction in the industry after several years in development.

The Calgary-based company said this week the Vigilant control room software it developed with GE was installed in the Plains Midstream Canada control room in Olds, Alberta, to monitor Plains' pipelines in real time using Hifi's high fidelity dynamic sensing (HDS) technology.

“We will fully admit it is a long and slow sales cycle selling an innovative technology to the pipeline sector. But now that we can demonstrate, through recent announcements like the one this week, that there are pipeline companies deploying this—so you [as a customer] don’t have to be the first, or even the second or third to deploy—that creates credibility,” Steven Koles, Hifi's president and chief executive officer, said in an interview.

Plains collaborated with Hifi last year to deploy the HDS monitoring system at some pipeline locations. The system works by monitoring high definition acoustic energy, strain, vibrations and temperature to detect with a high degree of accuracy pipeline leak signatures, geotechnical events like landslides and floods, and right-of-way security intrusions.

Plains is now working with Hifi and Baker Hughes, a GE company, to deploy the enhanced presentation software in its control centre. The Vigilant system, powered by GE’s Predix platform, provides an “edge to cloud” platform that allows for real time events and alarms to be sent to the control room, including multimedia data such as acoustic recordings from the specific site of the event detected.

“Adding such a high end industrial Internet application platform integrates well with the performance of the HDS technology, and can support the industry in achieving 100 per cent pipeline safety,” Koles said.

"The new Vigilant interface is a further enhancement to the current monitoring applications used in our control centre, which is a key piece in the safe operations of our pipelines," said Caitlin Heinen, Pipeline Integrity with Plains.

The versatility and power of Vigilant will allow the product to expand its capabilities to include other applications such as pig detection and tracking, as well as other forms of process and event monitoring, Hifi said.