Background: Existing technologies for detecting gas releases in oil and gas facilities include point and path detectors and leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs. Large networked arrays of point and path detectors are needed to detect gas leaks in oil and gas facilities due the inherent passive nature of these stationary technologies that require gas plume to come in contact with or within the line of sight the detectors. LDAR programs are not fully automated and require surveying millions of nodes in given plant to detect possible leaks. A potential solution to these challenges is a remote gas detection tools that could actively search for and autonomously detect gas leaks while removing the human component from the equation. Objectives: ExxonMobil Research Qatar is undertaking research to develop a Remote Gas Detection (RGD) system that will autonomously scan for and identify hydrocarbon gas leaks / emissions on a continuous basis. The system utilizes existing infrared (IR) detection technologies and expands its use to techniques that do not require human involvement. Prompt, efficient detection of gas leaks could significantly reduce fugitive emissions to the environment and provide early warning to operations personnel improving safety. Results: This research effort has led to the development of a sophisticated RGD system that is equipped with artificially intelligent software algorithms that can distinguish hydrocarbons from other IR hotspots in the scene with minimal false alarms. Early research activities included testing multiple RGD prototypes that integrated different IR camera technologies paired with various types of deployment strategies. Successful field tests were performed in late 2011 and led to the initiation of a short-term prototype field deployment in early 2012. Extensive libraries of IR videos, that highlight the behavior of the intelligent algorithm and the efficiency of the detection capability in varying environments, have been developed. This research effort has yielded two patent applications for novel and innovative developments in the field of remote gas detection. Future work includes evaluating system components and optics to facilitate efficient development of the first fully operational system, and continuation / expansion of the scope of pilot projects for long-term field testing.


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