Underground and above ground hydrocarbon transport pipelines often contain CO2 and water which cause corrosion. This corrosion begins as pinpoint leaks that expand over time. The difficulty lies in the fact that these leaks are often difficult to detect until a major event occurs. Pressure testing may determine a leak to be present, but does not pinpoint the location of the leak and pipeline pigs normally only detect leaks after they become significant and costly. Passive surface detection was used to detect nascent leaks at ppb levels, which is 1,000 times more sensitive than traditional methods.
The Columbia pipeline case study took place south of Pittsburgh. The natural gas pipeline was an underground pipeline buried at a depth of about 6 ft.
The objectives of the survey were to:
• examine potential fingerprints for evidence of natural gas leakage,
• determine if nascent leaks could be distinguished from baseline readings,
• compare results with pipeline maintenance records for ground truthing purposes.

• Several locations along the pipeline exhibited strong potential as leakage points,
• The results were ground-truthed with a known leak point,
• The data helped to monitor the efficiency of pipeline repair work,
• Baseline levels of hydrocarbons were determined and defined areas with no contamination,
• Potential nascent leak points were identified.

Primary Author/Presenter:
Rick Schrynemeeckers
Business Development North America
Amplified Geochemical Imaging, LLC
The Woodlands, Texas