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API Publishes First-Edition Guidance On Subsea Leak Detection Systems

API has published a first-edition technical report on leak detection for multiphase subsea production gathering and gas injection systems that incorporates best practices on leak detection methods using process data and operator training, with the aim of minimizing impacts on the environment if there is loss of containment.

API 17TR16, Subsea Hydrocarbon Production Leak Detection Systems Using Process Data, provides guidelines for the design, operation, maintenance and personnel training related to process data-based leak detection capabilities on subsea multiphase systems.

The natural gas and oil industry, alongside U.S. regulators, have focused on improving subsea leak detection in recent years to improve operations and environmental performance. This Technical Report incorporates industry best practices and technological advances to improve automated leak detection systems, as well as enhance operator training to respond to potential leaks on subsea production systems.

Subsea production systems transport multiphase oil, natural gas and water from underwater wells to floating platforms and are often located in deep waters where there is significant external hydrostatic pressure.

Detecting leaks from a change in process conditions – such as pressure, temperature and flowrate – is highly complex and creates uncertainty in predicting the pressure and flows, which is done through the use of models and process simulators. This report addresses these leak detection challenges, methods and performance, as well as instrumentation and operations.

In addition, training is covered in recognition of the key role of personnel who operate subsea systems in control rooms to support subsea leak detection alarm reviews and response. Ultimately, subsea leak detection systems are intended to enhance human judgment to determine what type of intervention or shutdown of the affected subsea system is warranted.

API 17TR16 recognizes that no single leak detection method or technology may be applicable to all subsea systems because each system is unique in design and operation. This report addresses internal process-based leak detection systems that can be readily applied to subsea production systems. External-based leak detection methods are excluded from the report.

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