Digitalisation easing pipeline management
The digital offering of Emerson Automation Solutions, among other service providers, is helping pipeline operators manage their assets better and achieve operational efficiency
The pipeline management market is still evolving, observers maintain. Until a few years ago, pipeline operators used to work on many silos of pipeline integrity providers, for example, a typical legacy pipeline included systems for pipeline leak detection, operator training, corrosion/erosion protection, equipment health, ESD and isolation valves, surge/pressure control, fiscal measurement system, remote monitoring and many other independent systems.
Pipeline operators are becoming more eager and looking for pipeline management solutions rather than discrete independent products. “Emerson has been the pioneer in this space by having complete pipeline integrity solutions. Emerson has recently acquired Energy Solutions International (ESI), a leading pipeline and terminal software company, specialised in pipeline management solutions that enable end-users to optimally operate their pipeline assets with reduced risk,” Ahmad Nawasrah, ESI sales leader for the MEA region at Emerson Automation Solutions, says.
‘PipelineManager’, the flagship software from ESI, takes advantage of the advancement in computing power to accurately create hydraulic profiles of the pipeline network to run predictive simulation and analysis that enables operators to run different operating scenarios and choose the most optimal operating procedure. These software solutions, according to Nawasrah, help operators also create crisis management operational procedures to mitigate the risk of interruption to any kind of operation failure or severe conditions.
‘PipelineOptimizer’, another offering from Emerson Automation Solutions, runs hundreds of sophisticated operating scenarios in parallel and shows the optimal operational procedure based on many dimensions such as power cost, expected demand, available capacity, heat exchange and DRA (Drag Reducing Additives) savings.
“Emerson solutions are also modular and can be scalable with the Operators requirements. Operators can use the same solutions and add new features or even extend the pipelines network while still using the same management solution. ESI complements Emerson pipeline solutions to offer a complete hardware and software solutions for the pipeline management segment,” Nawasrah told this magazine.
National Oil Companies operating most of the oil and gas resources in the Middle East, the pipeline operators are typically subsidiaries of the main NOC. “Therefore, Saudi Aramco, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Kuwait Oil Company, South Oil Company in Iraq are all companies that Emerson work with for greenfield new pipelines and rehabilitation and extension of the current pipelines,” he reveals.
To give an overview of Emerson’s pipeline management portfolio, the offering includes automation and control of compressor/pump station, pressure and flow control, SCADA, and asset management.
With Emerson’s integrated pipeline portfolio, the entire lifecycle of pipeline and terminal assets can be addressed which in turn drive value in four key areas, Nawasrah mentions. Safe and efficient operation of pipeline and terminal assets are among the core values driven by the organisation’s track record.
“Emerson capitalises on control, automation, and executing capital projects on time and on budget. This reflects the focus around project certainty and early engagement with large strategic customers to shape new investment projects from the beginning,” Nawasrah states. “Customers can leverage on Emerson’s comprehensive solutions to deliver projects timely and understand the long-term benefits of more efficient and cost-effective operation of expensive and long lived assets.”
Another key aspect to consider when it comes to pipeline management technologies is environmental sustainability. “While the operational loss due to pipeline failure incidents is significant, the environmental impact could be way more severe in many cases,” Nawasrah says. “We have seen many cases where cleaning the area which was affected due to pipeline leaks exceeding billions of dollars in some cases with significant legal consequences.”
With knowledge and visibility of their assets, producers can remain competitive through the current challenging downturn in the oil and gas industry. Quite often, it can take as much as a decade or more to develop new technologies and be ready for commercialisation and at that moment the market environment may have changed. For this reason licensors are careful when selecting which areas to focus on for future research and development. They also need to factor in potential market changes and changes in legislation.
Oilfield pipeline operations ultimately rely heavily on the sound performance and function of their physical assets. From pipeline to pumps, valves to regulators, any equipment that fails costs the operation time and money. Avoiding failures and downtime is the goal of every oil and gas pipeline operation. Meticulous lifecycle tracking and project management is the key to keeping operations running at optimal levels and limiting project costs and asset downtime.