Leak Detection & Repair - Reducing Emissions and Lost Product From Oil Wells

The Scenario - Undetected Leaks at Remote Oil Wells

A mid-sized oil exploration and production company operates numerous oil wells across a wide geographic area. To comply with regulations, the company conducts periodic physical inspections using handheld sensors and other manual leak detection techniques. Many of these wells are remote and difficult to access, increasing the time and cost required to dispatch a crew and conduct the inspection. 

Previous inspections have revealed methane and other greenhouse gas (GHG) leaks at some of the sites caused by corrosion and equipment degradation. Because the leaks first occurred between inspections, it is difficult to quantify the volume of GHG emissions or the total value of the lost product. 

Expanding regulatory requirements, internal sustainability goals, and the need to minimize lost revenues are all driving the need for a better, more consistent approach to leak detection and repair. 

The Challenge - Detecting and Locating Leaks Between Inspections

The oil and gas industry contributes a significant share of total GHG emissions. A recent estimate found that nearly 40 percent of human-caused methane leaks came from fossil fuel exploration, production, and transportation. In liquid petroleum systems, nearly half of these emissions come from undetected leaks in components such as connectors, valves, and pumps. 

Physical inspections, while necessary, are limited in their ability to detect and locate the source of these leaks since technicians must be in the right place at the right time. Intermittent leaks that only occur under certain conditions may not be identified, while leaks that occur between inspections can release large volumes of gas before being discovered.

Physical inspections also place workers in hazardous environments. In some cases, equipment may need to be shut down to allow safe access to the site, disrupting production and further increasing the cost of the inspection. 

Alternative approaches, such as sniffers and other sensors, can improve the likelihood of detection but are often highly sensitive to wind, weather, and proximity to the leak itself. Some, for example, may be able to detect the presence of gas but not the source, while others may be unable to see at night or in poor visibility.

The Solution - Continuous Monitoring of Remote Oil Wells

Explosion-proof optical gas imaging (OGI) sensors from Systems With Intelligence are designed and built for the oil and gas industry. Rather than depend solely on periodic physical inspections, oil companies can implement continuous, 24/7 monitoring solutions that immediately detect, locate, and verify the source of the leak. 

Advanced software automatically triggers an alarm, colorizes the plume for easy visualization, and estimates the volume of gas released. Pan-tilt-zoom capabilities and high-resolution cameras allow a single sensor to scan multiple wells at a range of 50 - 125 meters, while the OGI sensors offer very good atmospheric penetration to detect a leak through fog, smoke, or other conditions.

Features and Capabilities

  • Certified Explosion-Proof and Corrosion-Proof
  • Stainless Steel Construction
  • Pan/Tilt/Zoom or Fixed Thermal Cameras
  • Leak Quantification, Colorization, and Localization
  • Thermal Analytics and Advanced AI
  • Wide Operating Temperatures (-40°C - +75°C)
  • Cloud-Based Storage


  • Greater Situational Awareness
  • Reduced Product Loss
  • Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Stronger Regulatory Compliance
  • Reduced Travel Time and Costs
  • Improved Worker Safety
  • Enhanced Trend Analysis

The Results - Greater Situational Awareness and Lower Operating Costs

With greater situational awareness, operators can monitor the health and performance of wells from a central location. The easy-to-install sensors are cost-effective and highly scalable across multiple sites. Deployments can be customized and configured depending on the equipment being monitored and the needs of the business. 

Beyond the environmental benefits, better leak detection and repair mitigates regulatory risk, enhances productivity, reduces lost revenue, and improves the safety of workers and surrounding communities. Technical resources can be dispatched to conduct maintenance and repairs based on the actual condition of the equipment, reducing total travel time and improving operational efficiency. 

Finally, better access to data and analytics enables oil companies to conduct trend analysis, determine the root cause of failures, and transition toward a predictive, condition-based maintenance strategy that prevents issues before they occur.