Nov 2017
Gas Transmission
LiDAR to support NTS pipeline management
Nov 2017
Oct 2018
National Grid Gas Transmission
Ian Crompton;
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Network Innovation Allowance
Gas Transmission Networks

The management of pipeline infrastructures is a complex and costly activity. It requires high levels of technical expertise and the deployment of the latest inspection technology. Generally this inspection capability centres on the internal assessment (in-line) of the pipeline. External factors such as Cathodic Protection (CP) measurement, aerial surveys and physical line walking are also major contributors to the assess management processes.

The analysis of each pipeline related activity is normally treated separately, although where possible In Line Inspection (ILI) magnetic flux leakage data and CP information are usually aligned. However the advances in airborne laser scanning techniques offer high quality quantitative 3D digital representation of the topography of the ground. The alignment of laser derived data (LiDAR) of the pipeline corridor with exact pipe position, ILI and CP data could potentially enable a virtual map of the pipeline to be generated. This would then provide a clearer view of the pipeline condition and possible highlight any discontinuities which could be related to observed topographical features.

The programme will assess two LiDAR systems use their respective output to recent ILI data to inform the potential of this approach to future pipeline asset integrity management. The LiDAR data will be mapped to some of the latest Acoustic Resonance Transducer (ART) ILI results. The potential enhanced detection capability of ART ILI will provide further emphasis to the programme whereby high accuracy LiDAR data will be mapped to the ART ILI output.

The programme will assess two providers of LiDAR services to evaluate the capability of the techniques to support the on-going management of Gas Transmission networks, particularly in relation to line walking and ILI results. The two providers will enable a broad assessment of LiDAR and the secondary processing of the results to provide analysis on:

  • Depth of Cover.
  • Pipeline Threats (inclusive of third party interference).
  • Change Detection.

The analysis will be conducted along a gas transmission pipeline from which recent ILI results will be available.

The programme will provide a detailed assessment of 3D laser mapping techniques (LiDAR) and how these can be aligned to other pipeline assess integrity data such as ILI, CP or the results of line walking. The harmonisation of these data sets to a common topographical map will provide considerable consistency to the on-going pipeline management activities as data sets become uniquely referenced to the respective pipeline section.

The results will be available on a web portal which presents the data to a wider engineering base. The initial LiDAR programme is intended to concentrate on areas of the NTS of particular interest in terms of terrain, depth of cover and location (ease of access).