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Stretching tens of thousands of kilometers, crisscrossing countries, oil and gas pipelines are the backbone of energy transmission. But the terrains such pipelines traverse are complex, leading to common problems, from pipeline leakage to oil theft. Harsh environments and obstacles — such as reservoirs, lakes, forests, and steep slopes — present obvious challenges and safety risks to traditional manual inspection methods.
The answer in overcoming these issues lies in Distributed Fiber Optic Sensing (DFOS) technology. Featuring intrinsic safety, simple deployment, and all-weather adaptation, this technology collects and monitors vibrations in a specified monitoring scope for analysis, providing location information and a brand-new tool for pipeline inspection.
With more than 30 years of experience working in the fields of optical technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Huawei has built an innovative DFOS solution for pipeline inspection — the Pipeline Fiber Warning Solution. Based on the Huawei OptiXsense EF3000 Intelligent Optical Sensor and a Sensing Algorithm Engine (SAE), the solution enables 24/7, high-precision, automatic inspection and warning. When pipeline construction takes place, optical fibers deployed along it collect vibration information and send it to an OptiXsense EF3000 deployed in a plant or valve station. Event identification accuracy is drastically improved, reaching 97%.
Huawei's Pipeline Fiber Warning Solution uses an innovative enhanced optical Digital Signal Processing (oDSP) module with a built-in super blind spot error correction algorithm. The module corrects and shapes the phases of collected weak signals, raising the effective signal collection rate to 99.9%, higher than the industry average.
Huawei's unique vibration pattern identification engine also analyzes construction events and restores the event process from multiple dimensions. For each construction vibration occurrence point, the engine is able to obtain at least 32 pieces of phase information, extracting multi-dimensional features, such as voiceprint, frequency, space, time sequence, and duration. In addition, multi-dimensional deep convolution is applied to identify and compare samples, boosting event identification accuracy to 97%, surpassing the industry average once again.
By cooperating with Chinese universities that conduct geological research, Huawei has already imported a large amount of geological data — approximately 1000 new event samples every day — driving evolution and improving sensing and warning accuracy. In addition, OptiXsense EF3000 can perform iterations based on new construction behavior data, as well as different geological environments in the database.
Responsible for supplying gas to a large number of residential users and enterprises, Shandong Jihua Gas has more than 3000 km of gas pipelines, operating at different levels. To promote the application of fiber optic sensing and AI-based, adaptive identification technical solutions in pipeline construction, the company cooperated with Huawei to spur innovation.
Empowered by Huawei OptiXsense EF3000 and SAE, Jihua built an intelligent, comprehensive management platform to monitor and warn about pipeline events, particularly damage caused by external forces.
In the project's first phase, Jihua deployed approximately 20 km of underground pipelines, crossing complex terrains such as suburban areas, main roads, and rural areas. Construction samples — taken from excavators, tamping rammers, trenchers, and manual excavation — were sampled onsite and models were then built through training. For construction samples such as excavators, tests were performed repeatedly on different road sections.
According to these test results, when disruptive mechanical construction occurs around buried pipelines, the fiber optic sensing system detects vibration information, quickly analyzes and identifies the vibration within 1 min, and reports alarms and information to the management platform. Based on the reported site information, monitoring staff simply dispatch a work order to a nearby inspector to handle it. After receiving the work order, the inspector immediately heads to the construction site, verifies whether the onsite construction is legal, stops the construction if need be, and instructs construction workers to restore the site.
The tests have successfully verified Huawei OptiXsense EF3000's application capability out in the real world. In pipeline operation and management, intelligent inspection technology effectively guarantees the safe running of pipelines and reduces the occurrence rate of pipeline leakage accidents, avoiding the economic losses and environmental pollution that would otherwise occur. The tests also demonstrate the significance of implementing automatic unattended inspection in the pipeline network industry.
Xu Xiaoliang, Head of the Fiber Optics Division of Jihua Gas, stated: "Jihua has conducted a field technical test using Huawei's optical sensing products. The detection and reporting accuracy is much higher than the industry average. In the future, we will continue to collect and update onsite samples to further expand the types of identifiable events and explore more accurate identification algorithms, in turn providing more efficient technical assurance for safety management in the oil and gas industry."
Currently, Huawei's Pipeline Fiber Warning Solution can identify external events caused by excavators, manual excavation, and heavy trucks. With comprehensive detection and accurate identification advantages, it ultimately helps industry customers safeguard oil and gas pipelines.
Jihua has conducted a field technical test using Huawei's optical sensing products. The detection and reporting accuracy is much higher than the industry average. In the future, we will continue to collect and update onsite samples to further expand the types of identifiable events and explore more accurate identification algorithms, in turn providing more efficient technical assurance for safety management in the oil and gas industry.
Xu Xiaoliang, Head of the Fiber Optics Division of Shandong Jihua Gas Co., Ltd.