SmartBall® Leak Detection for Oil & Gas Pipelines

The SmartBall® inspection tool is an innovative verification of containment technology for oil, gas and petroleum products pipelines.

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For pipelines 4 inches (100 millimeters) and larger in diameter, SmartBall offers unparalleled sensitivity and accurate location capability for verification of containment surveys. It is easy to deploy and can be used to complement existing pipeline integrity programs or as an integrity check on non-piggable lines. The device consists of an instrumented aluminum core in a urethane shell and contains a range of instrumentation, including an acoustic data acquisition system that listens for product loss as the ball travels through the pipeline.

SmartBall differs from conventional inspection pigs in that it is not a full-diameter instrument. It rolls silently through the pipeline and the absence of mechanical noise allows unsurpassed acoustic sensitivity. The device can detect small product losses as low as 0.03 gallons per minute (0.11 liters/minute), which is order of magnitude more sensitive than CPM-based systems.

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As pipe diameter increases, the SmartBall tool retains its sensitivity while CPM systems become less accurate. Productloss location accuracy is typically within 2 meters, depending on availability of tracking locations. The device can be deployed and retrieved using existing pigging facilities. In non-piggable lines, the device can be launched using off-the-shelf fittings. Travel time can last up to 20 hours for 4-inch (100 millimeter) lines and over 400 hours for larger lines.

Oil and Gas pipelines can also benefit from SmartBall PWA which identifies stress in the pipe wall based on a changing magnetic signature. PWA identifies areas of possible concern for further investigation as part of a Pipeline Management Integrity Program.


  • Routine verification of containment surveys
  • Emergency product loss locating, minimizing losses and cleanup costs
  • Validation of alarms generated by CPM systems (with accurate locations in the case of product loss)
  • Acceptance testing of new pipelines
  • Product theft detection
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Featured Projects:

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Petrobras - Natal, Brazil

Pure Technologies (Pure) has conducted two inspections of a 12-inch multi-phase product pipeline in eastern Brazil, owned by Petrobras. Pure utilized its 10-inch Polyurethane-coated SmartBall leak detection tool to detect a total of three simulated leaks during two separate runs on this pipeline.


Technical Papers

Development of a Long Duration, Free Swimming, Inline Acoustic Leak Detection Inspection Tool

Acoustic leak detection inspection tools have become a common technique to identify minute pipeline leakage before the leak and the defect producing it can become a larger problem or even a rupture level event. While these inspection tools only identify small defects once they reach the through wall stage and result in leakage, they can be an effective means of demonstrating the pressure tightness of a pipeline and ruling out the presence of through wall defects that are below the detection threshold of other ILI inspection tools, in so doing finding a way into both the leak detection and pipeline integrity toolboxes.