7 factors to consider when hiring a pipeline leak detection specialist

Leak detection is an essential component of pipeline risk management, alerting operators to leaks quickly to prevent further damage. There are a range of companies in Australia that provide leak detection services – but how do you know which company will provide the best service for your pipeline system? Here, Pipe Tek runs through the 7 main considerations when choosing a reliable service provider.

High-pressure gas transmission pipelines are critical to transporting natural gas from processing or storage facilities over long distances to Australia’s domestic markets, so it’s important that they are properly monitored for gas leaks to ensure a safe and commercially optimal operation.

Pipeline leak detection allows operators to act decisively and take steps to safeguard the environment, public safety, and the integrity and commercial operation of the pipelines.

There are a number of Australian leak detection companies that use different technologies to detect pipeline leaks. So how do you know which company or method is right for your pipeline? End-to-end pipeline solution company Pipe Tek outlines seven factors to consider when choosing the right leak detection company for your needs.

1. Hire a qualified and well-regarded company

Pipeline leak detection is a complicated procedure, requiring specific skills, knowledge and tools so it’s important to hire a qualified and well-regarded pipeline leak detection company to manage your leak detection.

Look for a company with a proven track record servicing different types of pipelines, such as high-pressure steel transmission lines and smaller diameter polyethylene pipelines, and consider their familiarity with relevant regulations and standards. Seek references and feedback from their previous clients to gauge their level of satisfaction and the company’s reliability.

2. Check the company’s certifications and compliance

All pipeline leak detection companies should hold the relevant certifications and adhere to the compliance requirements for underground pipeline leak detection. These can include certifications related to safety, environmental standards and quality management systems. Compliance with industry regulations demonstrates the company’s commitment to delivering a competent, reliable service.

3. Look for versatility

Pipeline leak detection companies often provide other services. These can include pipeline inspections and testing via pigging, ILI, CCTV, hydrostatic and pneumatic testing, flange management, and testing, inspection and calibration of associated pipeline facilities. Choosing a leak detection company that offers these additional forms of support allows you to leverage the relationship that you’ve developed, and take advantage of end-to-end pipeline integrity solutions with a supplier that you know and trust.

4. Confirm response times and emergency services

Consider the company’s ability to respond quickly to emergencies. Ask about their average response time and their procedures for handling emergency situations. It’s important to ensure that the leak detection company you choose can provide adequate support to mitigate the impact of any leaks that may occur and minimise downtime of your pipeline operations.

5. Make sure the leak detection tools are state-of-the-art

Ask about the types of sensors, monitoring systems and data analysis techniques that prospective leak detection providers use and make an assessment on whether their technologies and methodologies meet your unique needs. The company you choose should have a comprehensive understanding of different leak detection approaches and use state-of-the-art tools to ensure that their work is always accurate, efficient and reliable.

6. Ask about customised solutions and flexibility to meet your unique needs

Evaluate the company’s ability to provide customised solutions tailored to your specific pipeline requirements. A reliable company should be able to assess your needs, consider the characteristics of your pipelines, and propose appropriate detection strategies. Look for a company that is flexible and adaptable to evolving project requirements.

7. Read your contract thoroughly

 Carefully review the contract terms and conditions proposed by your chosen leak detection company and make sure you understand the scope of services, deliverables, and ongoing support or maintenance provisions. Clarify any uncertainties and ensure that all the important aspects of the project are documented in your contract.

Make an informed decision: choose Pipe Tek’s advanced leak detection services

An experienced Australian leak detection provider that meets all the above criteria is Pipe Tek. The company is ISO 9001 certified for leak detection and has been offering effective and efficient end-to-end pipeline integrity and safety services for 70 years, first under its previous name Tank Calibrators. Pipe Tek prides itself on its state-of-the-art technology and flexibility to meet clients’ needs.

Pipe Tek provides leak detection for pipelines using either tracer gas or acoustic methods.  For these methods, the suspected section of the pipeline is not live or gassed. The tracer gas is locked into the pipeline at a pressure of between 10-30 per cent of operating pressure, with leaks detected via hand-held hydrogen gas monitors as Pipe Tek staff walk the line.

The company uses a tracer gas consisting of 5 per cent hydrogen and 95 per cent nitrogen, which is ideal for testing pipelines covered by AS2885.5 as well as coal seam gas polyethylene pipelines. Hydrogen is more efficient for leak detection than helium since it moves through leaks faster and can be flushed or vented away with less effort. It also results in less background interference because hydrogen atoms are less prone to sticking against surfaces than helium atoms.

A potential leak in one of your piping systems should always be taken seriously and rectified as soon as possible. Make sure your pipeline is safe by arranging a leak detection service with Pipe Tek.

For more information about Pipe Tek’s leak detection and tracer gas services, visit Pipe Tek’s website or contact Myles Branelly on 0417 707 729.

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