“Sniffing” Technology- the Weak Link in LDAR Programs

Globally, gas leaks and subsequent explosions have caused worker deaths, long-term health problems, and harm to the surrounding environment and communities.

Even in Australia, where health and safety standards are some of the most stringent in the world, accidents still happen.

Mining company Linc Energy is a prime example of this. In March this year, Australian Mining reported that the company was facing allegations of exposing workers to poisonous gases at a plant near Chinchilla, Qld, with investigations into a number of “uncontrolled releases” of gas during 2007-2013. The company now faces multi-million dollar fines.

Though we have come a long way since the mining canary, whose tweets -or lack of- were used to warn workers of a gas leak; existing technologies still aren’t quite up to scratch.

The challenge for mine sites, and oil and gas companies when it comes to leak monitoring and identification is that facilities contain miles of piping coupled with countless valves, flanges, gaskets and other vulnerable areas, through which methane and other volatile organic compound gases can escape.

Existing technologies, such as Toxic Vapour Analysers (TVA’s), have proven to be an inefficient tool for companies requiring quick action, due to the slow process of “sniffing” out suspect areas, and the risk it poses to workers charged with the task of inspecting equipment.

New technologies, such as FLIR Optical Gas Imaging cameras, have been developed in response to failing solutions and are built with safety, efficiency and accuracy in mind.

Using infra-red technology, operators are able to conduct real time imaging of gas leaks over large areas, with the largest FLIR camera able to detect up to 20 gases including: Methane, Ethanol, Methane, Ethelyne, Propylene.

When it comes to gas leaks, time is money; which is why FLIR OGI cameras are programmed to scan thousands of components per shift, over large areas and all from a safe distance. This not only improves productivity and efficiency, but also limits the extent of damage should a dangerous leak occur and keeps workers safe whilst inspections are being carried out.

Want to find a better solution for incorporating efficiency, safety and environmental primacy into current LDAR programs? Then click here to download FLIR’s guide to effective leak detection.

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