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Repsol-Indra have developed a leak detection system that’s fully functional underwater

28th March 2014

Spanish firms spearhead the drive to clean up oil and gas production with technology designed to catch leaks before they become unmanageable.

Repsol Indra Leak Detection
The quicker a leak is detected, the less drastic its consequences

A sophisticated leak detection system called the Hydrocarbon Early Automatic Detection System, or HEADS, has been developed by a Repsol-Indra partnership.

Both companies are heavily involved in the Latin American gas and oil industries.

HEADS is a cutting-edge system that combines sensor monitoring, automatic interpretation and activation of alarms without human intervention. It boasts a response time of less than two minutes.

The partnership claim that HEADS is the first of its kind.

The combined use of infrared images and radar maximise reliability and the automation of the process allows for constant monitoring without the intervention of an operator – minimising the risk of human error. Radar detection is based on the difference in the roughness of the water surface when hydrocarbons are present. The infrared camera detects the variations in temperature between water and hydrocarbons, due to differences between the calorific properties of the two substances.

The system has a console located in a control room where different operations are monitored, such as drilling, production, loading or safety. When HEADS detects an incident, as well as activating the alarm automatically, it also collects all the associated information, registering and analysing all the related parameters.

Repsol provided the HEADS project with its extensive knowledge of physical phenomena related to hydrocarbons and the marine environment, and its experience in crude oil exploration and production in the most demanding areas on the planet. The company also provided all the technology of the Repsol Technology Centre, including a laboratory that can reproduce weather conditions at sea.

Indra has provided its expertise on image interpretation and algorithms and its experience in the development of real time data processing, the construction and use of radar and infrared cameras and command and control centres. The multinational also has extensive experience in the development and implementation of technological solutions for the hydrocarbons industry, where it is has worldwide presence with 1,500 professionals and projects on all five continents. Both companies have registered the patent with a standard Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application, a single procedure that allows registration in over 147 countries.

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