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LaSen airborne pipeline leak detection.

LaSen's President Rusty Jennett was one of the founders of the Las Cruces, NM-based company in 1988. The company was focused on utilizing proven technology to develop remote detection systems that would detect trace amounts of hydrocarbons and chemicals of interest to the federal government.

The first system, developed for the government, filled a 2.5-ton truck. This was the first successful laser system utilized to detect chemicals emitting from the ground. In 2002, utilizing Department of Transportation and Department of Energy research funding, LaSen began developing its technology which could be airborne-mounted to detect leaks on natural gas pipelines.

Based on this research, LaSen continued the development of the airborne system and in 2005 performed an inspection for its first customer, a unit of Duke Energy (now DCP). DCP was and is today very interested in maintaining a very low "lost and unaccounted" gas and continues to be a valued customer of LaSen. In 2007, LaSen won the R&D 100 Award for the successful DOE abandoned well tests in Wyoming. LaSen has t motto "Find it Fast and Fix it Fast".


LaSen's growth had been slow as the pipeline industry gradually accepted this new, unique method of inspecting pipelines. In 2009, Jennett reorganized the company and hired as CEO Winston Johnson, who had retired as senior vice president of El Paso Corporaton, in order to bring direct knowledge of pipeline industry operations and needs.

With Johnson's involvement, not only has LaSen enjoyed greater acceptance in the industry, but today all LaSen employees have a greater understanding of the challenges facing pipeline operators. In addition, all of LaSen's field techs are DOT Operator Qualified to conduct the inspections.

On June 1, 2012, LaSen had completed more than 100,000 miles of successful natural gas pipeline inspections; in 2011 almost 25,000 miles were completed. LaSen continues with its research and development of new and proven technology with state-of-the-art airborne leak detections systems. LaSen now offers to inspect pipelines with methane and other chemicals for its clients.

LaSen's system is mounted on a helicopter and sends a pulsed, eye-safe laser beam to illuminate the inspection area on the ground. When the beam passes through the plume of the chemical of concern, a portion of the beam's energy is absorbed by the chemical and the reduced reflection is measured to indicate its presence.

When this occurs the GPS coordinates and five high-resolution photos of the location are recorded. At the same time a high-resolution video is taken of the entire length of the inspection to record the condition of the right-of-way and any encroachments. The results of the inspections of each day are reported the next morning at 8 a.m. through a secure website. The fight-of-way video and the hard copy report are sent to the customer in approximately two weeks.
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Title Annotation:Tech Notes: Product Development
Publication:Pipeline & Gas Journal
Date:Aug 1, 2012
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