Underwater natural gas pipelines can be punctured for a variety of reasons, but the most notable are corrosion and aging. This study proposes a novel passive acoustic based system, to detect acoustic signals, locate the leak holes, and determine the size of the leak holes remotely. The nature of acoustic signals, which are generated by leakages in underwater natural gas pipelines, is also examined. The success of this proposed localization method, which is based on the received signal strength technique, is analyzed by numerical studies and simulation works. Parameters, which are used in the numerical studies, are taken from a hypothetical pipeline whose specifications are similar to Maghreb-Europe Gas pipeline. The proposed method is examined for various measurement numbers, underwater ambient noises, the diameters of the leak holes and receiver numbers. It is shown that leakages can be located with low average position errors from several kilometers by depending on underwater ambient noise, detection method, receiver number, source strength and measurement number. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.