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Increasingly, pipeline operating companies must deal with regulations that focus on environmental protection. The goal of the regulations is to minimize pipeline leaks that not only endanger the environment but also result in operator downtime and financial penalties. Identifying, verifying and responding to the abnormal conditions around a potential leak require best practices, including controller training.
A computational pipeline monitoring (CPM) system uses real-time information from the field – such as pressure, temperature, viscosity, density, flow rate, product sonic velocity and product interface locations – to estimate the hydraulic behavior of the product being transported and create a computerized simulation. With it, controllers can be alerted to actual operating conditions that are not consistent with the calculated conditions and might signal the existence of a pipeline leak. Different CPM methodologies provide different leak detection capabilities, so different methods, or a combination of methods, might be better applied to different operations.
A comprehensive CPM system also supports training best practices that help engineers and controllers develop intimate knowledge of the control system interface, alarming functions and response actions. It is an efficient way to implement refresher training to cover network modifications and expansions and to accurately document training, testing results and qualifications. Computerized simulation has demonstrated to provide more comprehensive and effective training for a specific pipeline than on-the-job training. For this reason, it is the preferred method of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Association (DOT-PHMSA) for training controllers to recognize the abnormal conditions that might suggest a leak and to optimize the safety of the pipeline operation.
Schneider Electric’s SimSuite Pipeline solution is based on a real-time transient model that includes leak detection capabilities, crucial to safety and environmental concerns; a simulation trainer application for targeted and effective training of operational staff; and forecasting and planning functionalities that help improve business intelligence. Together, these capabilities help the pipeline operator reduce operations cost as well as comply with regulations.