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Detecting leaks in a matter of two minutes

We are now able to detect any incidents in underwater oil extraction in under two minutes. The HEADS PROJECT is a reliable, fast, and accurate safety system.

At the Repsol Technology Center we have created the HEADS safety system (Hydrocarbon Early Automatic Detection System), which has been a breakthrough development on the global stage. This tool is capable of automatically detecting hydrocarbon leaks in the sea with a response time of under two minutes.

The development of this safety system has involved over 20 experts, scientists, and researchers from Repsol—working at the Repsol Technology Center, the Casablanca rig, and the Tarragona Industrial Complex—and Indra, who have all collaborated closely together over a two-year period to come up with the tool. Repsol has contributed our knowledge in the field of exploration, production, hydrocarbons, and the marine environment, while Indra has provided algorithms for interpreting images, processing and data and sensors.

The system combines continuous monitoring sensors, automatic interpretation, and alarm activation, without the need for an operator, thus minimizing human error.

HEADS can interpret any incident in the water with a response time of under two minutes, both day and night and in all weather conditions. Its speed and reliability make it an extraordinary advance while also assisting the commitment of our company by avoiding or minimizing the environmental impact of our operations.

From the lab to the real world

In 2013, we successfully carried out a test program in Casablanca. We detected fish oil in the sea (its properties are similar to that of crude oil, but it is biodegradable and harmless to marine life). We treated a small amount of it, which the system quickly detected. HEADS has proven to be reliable, fast, and precise with only a minimal number of false alarms. When HEADS detects an incident, the alarm is automatically activated, and it gathers all of the associated information which it records and analyzes, allowing us to quickly detect leaks.