Schneider Electric and Prisma Photonics Combine Technology to Increase Efficiency for Oil and Gas Pipelines

December 07, 2021 by Seth Price

The new partnership hopes to give the oil and gas industry new tools to monitor leaks and combat sabotage or illegal activity that can damage pipelines.

Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is a global leader in automation and energy management. Their services are used in metals, automotive, mining, power generation, oil and gas, and many other industries. Their experience in the oil and gas industry encompasses offshore, onshore, refining, terminals, and pipelines.

Recently, they were recognized as the world’s most sustainable corporation by the Corporate Knights Global 100 Index in January 2021. As part of their commitment to the environment, they develop technologies to detect methane leaks and ensure pipeline integrity.

In addition, they’re also partnering with Prisma Photonics to oil and gas pipeline operations. 


Prisma Photonics

Prisma Photonics has been developing laser and fiber optic systems since 2017. Their fiber optic systems are used in the power distribution, smart transportation, sub-sea, and oil and gas industries. 


An oil and gas pipeline.


One of their specialties is using existing fiber optic cable as sensors, which could be a key component to the Schneider Electric and Prisma Photonics partnership.

Another component that Prisma Photonics will contribute to this project is their software. The algorithms they have written drastically reduce the number of false alarms. Because each alarm requires a specific response, such as piloting a drone, sending a technician, or alerting security, reduced false alarms mean reduced labor costs.


Pipeline Security

All pipeline companies have at least one method to monitor leaks and sabotage. Many use drones, fiber optic sensors, pigs (a device that flows down the pipeline to inspect it from the inside), and many other technologies.

Oil and gas pipelines can leak due to wear and age. They are often the targets of malicious attacks from ordinary vandals, thieves, and even terrorists. Regardless of how the pipeline leaks, it is the responsibility of the oil or gas company to detect the leak and take the appropriate action.

The partnership between Schneider Electric and Prisma Photonics will integrate standard sensors that exist in many pipelines with software that can detect leaks. The hardware uses existing fiber optic cables as sensors, meaning there is little additional installation.


PrismaFlow Platform

PrismaFlow is a complete pipeline monitoring system designed to detect leaks in near real-time. The system uses a combination of fiber optic sensors and cabling, which relay any suspicious or trouble signals to communication rooms located along the power line.


Prisma Photonics command and control unit interfaces communication rooms that monitor the pipelines. The communication rooms can be spaced up to 100 km apart. Image used courtesy of Prisma Photonics


Unlike similar systems, the Prisma system uses Hyper-Scan, another Prisma product, which uses the fiber optic cables themselves as sensors. By using the cables, more data is collected over a much larger area. This means more leaks can be detected much more quickly than when there are limited sensors, leading to much smaller releases of methane and other products.

Overall, the partnership will add improved algorithms, better sensing technology, and reduced false positive rates.