Smart technologies aid pipeline management [ArabianOilandGas.com]
(ArabianOilandGas.com Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The oil & gas industry regularly experiences breaches in pipeline integrity, causing tremendous impact on the environmental, and having a heavy health and safety impact.
Breaches also lead to loss of product, downtime in facilities and damage to the brand. Maintaining an effective pipeline integrity management system (PIMS) is fundamental to any pipeline operator.
The PIMS is a complex system comprising point solutions, legacy software and enterprise applications. Every pipeline company has PIMS in some form, and to some level of maturity.
Typically the baseline PIMS for an oil & gas pipeline company could be a range of different applications, catering to a horde of specific business functions, each having a database with a unique data definition, deployed on dated technologies. This means that the amount of data generated, processed and stored is huge.
Because the data from different applications is defined differently, pipeline companies face challenges defining threats to pipelines accurately.
These dated pipeline integrity management systems are not agile enough to meet operational, regulatory and market requirements effectively.
However, emerging technologies such as cloud services, mobile computing, big data analytics and social media offer compelling and cost-effective options to allow oil & gas companies to transition to a more contemporary PIMS.
The first step for the pipeline companies is to build the PIMS database on PODS (Pipeline Open Data Standards). Use of the PODS data model can help companies to ensure that their PIMS database is vendor neutral, interoperable and gives freedom to adopt the best of breed solutions.
A layer of big data analytics can also enhance correlation amongst survey findings and improve the overall risk assessment capabilities.
Mobility solutions can extend key functionalities based on user role to their respective hand held devices, so that field operators and survey staff can upload their critical inspection findings remotely. Work permits, inventory requisition and access to KPIs are typical example of mobility-based solutions. Deployment of customised mobile applications for field work improves work flows tremendously. Use of social platforms also has immense scope in the oil & gas pipeline industry.
Using social media, experts can share their knowledge informally to help address various complex maintenance and operations areas. Pipeline companies can also trace, track and take appropriate action on the public's comments and view of the company with the help of social media analytics.
By integrating their PIMS with their distributed control system, SCADA applications, and geographic information systems, companies can improve leak detection times as well and improve emergency response strategies.
Finally by hosting PIMS on the cloud, pipeline companies can pay for the data and storage that they use in a form of pay-as-you-go model, instead of having in-house systems and realise upfront investments.
The nexus of forces formed by cloud services, mobile computing, big data analytics and social media is set to disrupt the existing oil & gas industry solutions across the hydrocarbon value chain. Pipeline companies must leverage these emerging technologies to make their PIMS more adoptive to the ever changing business needs.
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