Product theft has been a major issue for many pipeline operators around the world. We all have in mind the terrible explosion of a gasoline pipeline in the town of Tlahuelilpan, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. The blast killed at least 137 people and injured dozens more. This story made its mark, but illegal tappings is not an isolated fact. Europe is not spared by this threat. The CONCAWE organization which gathers figures about leakages reported a boom of leakages due to illegal tappings in 2015 in Western Europe with more than 140 cases. Even if this number is now decreasing, the majority of the spills are still due to syphoning even if at the same time criminals, getting more and more sophisticated, are more difficult to catch.
These are reasons why operators still rely on innovation which has led them to use different or redundant technologies in order to detect every mischief. However, the perfect mix of technologies still doesn’t exist and this is TRAPIL decided to get its R&D team involved in the design of new effective solutions. One of them is the T3. The T3 for “Trapil Theft Tracker” is an inline inspection tool based on the long experience of Trapil in ultrasonic aiming at detecting, identifying and locating taps up to the smallest ones. The tool has been designed to be compact, easy to handle in order to reduce downtime, and launched as often as necessary in order to provide a very fast report and counteraction in case of suspicion. This paper describes the customer-oriented design approach based on feedbacks from the field and the technical qualification process adopted by TRAPIL in order to build an innovative tool whose design is patented.