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OptaSense provides pipeline security technology to Iraq

30 Nov 2012
The company’s distributed fiber sensing system will be established along a 180 km oil pipeline corridor. OptaSense, a developer of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology and part of the UK’s QinetiQ defense contractor signed an agreement in order to supply its monitoring systems to Iraq for a pipeline security application. The contract forms part of the company’s continuing focus on Middle East markets, following the creation of its office in Dubai earlier in 2012. The company would contribute to the defense of a new 180 km pipeline corridor directed by Iraq’s State Company for Oil Projects, the state-owned entity administrated by the country’s Ministry of Oil. A monetary value for the deal has not been revealed. This deal is an important step for OptaSense in the Middle East and creates on their investment in a regional Head Quarter in Dubai, said company Managing director Magnus McEwn-King. OptaSense for the first time will be providing a safe corridor between which multiple pipelines will be created. He also said that they have a proven track record of giving pipeline safety elsewhere in the Middle East and around the world and they are happy to be undertaking another key project in the region. Earlier, the company spoke of a commitment to the Middle East area and the growing awareness amongst gas and oil firms that damage prevention forms a main aspect of their business. The OptaSense DAS system allows fiber-optic cables running underground along with pipelines and other established infrastructure to act as acoustic detectors. Pipeline breakages, leakage or attempted sabotage can all be identified by monitoring this signal. In effect the pipeline corridor will be guarded by over 20,000 virtual microphones, making it one of the most monitored assets in the locality, stated McEwen-King. The project is highly expected to be completed in March 2013 and the company explains it as complementing work already taken place in Oman, Qatar and other places in Iraq. It will be supervised by company’s Dubai’s office. Pipeline security DAS is based on the detection of audio frequency strain over important distances and can utilize existing fiber-optic cables to do so where necessary. The system uses regularly spaced ‘interrogator units’ to send light pulses along with the fiber and monitor the amount of light which is back-scattered or reflected. If sound waves, potentially from anything as important as a pipeline break or as slight as a footstep in the vicinity, alter the place of the fiber by a small amount then the back-scatter signal is changed with it. Data about the changed signal is analyzed by a software system and presented in real time to an operator, complete with detailed location information. Networking interrogator units together allows a single operator to monitor more than 5,000 km of infrastructure from one location, according to OptaSense. The technology is appropriate to a number of sectors, but pipeline monitoring and safety is a specific focus for OptaSense, which has begun to collect few major deals. In May 2012 the company signed a global commercialization and framework deal with Shell, including the use of the system to supervise hydraulic fracturing operations o ‘fracking’. OptaSense systems have also been chosen to monitor the entire length of India’s Mangala Development Pipeline, which is stretched from Rajasthan to Gujarat, a contract announced in April 2011. A third installation monitors the 1,770 km Turkey section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, through an agreement with BP. Source: [Optics]
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