Upstream Pipeline Safety, Integrity and Detection (UPSIDE)


Colorado State University (CSU) and the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) are conducting a major project to better understand gas migration from upstream pipelines – both flowlines between wells and well pads and gathering lines.  The project will study both how gas migrates underground and how to best detect leaks on the surface. The project was funded by the Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin Memorial Public Projects Fund.  The project seeks pipeline operators and first responders to participate on a technical advisory committee.


The project will focus on pipeline leaks from pipelines that have the mixed-hydrocarbon gas content typical of upstream operations, including heavier-than-air gases.  Experimental work will investigate how gases move in the subsurface, and how leaks ‘present’ at the surface for monitoring and detection. Additional project modules will test leak detection methods in a field laboratory and at operators’ facilities.

Project Plan:

The project will utilize testing in controlled conditions at CSU’s Methane Emissions Technology Evaluation Center (METEC), followed by field experiments to test leak detection solutions.  In conjunction with a companion project (RPLUME) the study team will install new pipeline test beds at METEC including both ‘rural’ and more built-up environments. Fundamental work will be performed to understand underground gas migration, with particular emphasis on the gas mixtures typically seen in upstream operations. The METEC testbeds will also be utilized for controlled testing of leak detection solutions, which will then be deployed in the field for evaluation.

Industry participation is key to project success.  An advisory board will provide experience and input on leak scenarios in the field (confidentially, if requested), which will be used to develop METEC and field-testing plans.  Operators will help select the types of leak detection solutions to test and will be part of the field testing. No financial commitment is required – just time, data, and potentially hosting some field work.


The project kicked off in late 2020.  Test beds will be installed in Q1-Q2 ’21 at METEC. The advisory team is active and looking for additional members to provide input.  While plans are fluid, METEC testing should commence summer of ’21 and extend for 12+ months.  Testing of leak detection solutions, and subsequent field test planning, will commence in late 2021. The project is scheduled to take 30 months to complete (spring ’23).

Related Projects: UPSIDE shares test facilities, advisory board, and some testing with RPLUME.

Opportunities to Participate:

Interested in participating?  There are several ways to get engaged in this project:

  • Industry advisory Board (IAB) – The IAB is an opportunity for stakeholders of all types to be included in planning and steering the focus of controlled experiments.
  • Controlled testing – Controlled testing at METEC will be performed following the protocol developed in this project. Contact us for information on how to participate.
  • Field test sites – Operators may partner with us to test technologies during the field testing. Contact us for information on how to participate.