Computing Natural Gas Losses From Damaged Pipelines Using Analytical Discharge Equations and Network Modeling Software

Lecuyer, Hugo A. (Gaz Metro LP) | Rice, Corey (DNV GL)



Assessing the discharged volume during third party digging damages with efficiency and acceptable accuracy is a challenge for multiple reasons. It involves complex physics phenomena, requires taking the right assumptions and has to be perform relatively quickly as the number of cases to compute each year is important. This paper summarizes the application of a comprehensive methodology used to perform this task.

The first part deals with the required field measurements needed to be obtained, the selection of an adequate physics equation as a function of the flow regime and the linkage between an analytical equation and a commercial CFD software to obtain a valid network pressure at the damage point.

In the second section, a validation attempt between computed results and field measurements is made using two different sets of data. First, for some very specific incidents where the pipeline damage is close to a gate station with SCADA recording, it is possible to obtain an hourly flow profile at the break. Second, simple configurations of pipe rupture have been replicated in laboratory and tested with air. For most of the cases, the described methodology shows a good match with experimental data with typical discharge coefficient values in the range of 0.61 to 0.92.


Gaz Metro « GM » is the main natural gas distributor in the province of Quebec on the east part of Canada. The territory is connected to the TCPL Mainline (figure 1) at the very end of the transmission system.

GM distributes 97% of all natural gas in Quebec (figure 2) to over 200 000 customers located in more than 300 municipalities [1]. This can be achieved by an asset of 10 000 km of underground network pipeline with more than 90% being distribution mains and services, mostly small diameter plastic pipes. Along this distribution network, digging damages by third party represent by far the primary reason for unplanned emergency response and an important part of the total non-fugitive annual gas loss. Each year, 300 to 400 rupture cases are reported and analyzed.