Opinion

SMARTER PIPELINES: DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND TRENDS


Oil and Gas pipeline operators are investing heavily in new digital technologies to improve control, inspection and maintenance of assets. The COVID-19 outbreak and oil price drop put pressure on the industry and companies have to cut costs, increase efficiencies, and improve decision making to do more with fewer resources. 

Let's see how innovations enable real-time data collection, enhanced connectivity, automation, and advanced analytics. 

 

Digital twin for construction

Digital twins are created to manage and optimize the asset operations, however, they can provide more benefits to the operators. McDermott conducted a study showing how digital twins can improve pipeline construction. Subsea pipeline design stages create a complicated flow of data with iterative loops. Through a digital twin, companies can get access to all the relevant projects' information carried from the design stage through the operational stage. This way engineers have a quicker turn-around on projects with the opportunity to run various scenarios and better understand the consequences of design decisions.

Real-time corrosion monitoring

Corrosion rates usually required by Pipeline Integrity Management Software are difficult to monitor. Elsyca NV developed Elsyca V-PIMS software platform that uses computational models to reflect real-life conditions and provide real-time corrosion and safety analytics in between test stations and at inaccessible locations. Mechanistic models simulate in 3D the cathodic protection and interference current distribution on the pipeline on a map. Simulation results are then compared with survey data. To reflect the real-life situation, the models require calibration for unknown parameters like coating condition or accidental drains but once the model is calibrated, further updates on changes in the operational conditions are done with Artificial Intelligence.

Automated inspection

According to industry forecasts, the Oil and Gas drone service market will grow at a CAGR of over 60% by 2025, and midstream is expected to be one of the fastest-growing segments. Vallourec, FORSSEA Robotics, and iXblue have recently started working on the subsea drone pipeline inspection solution that enables vessel-free navigation. The project idea is based on barcodes directly integrated into subsea pipelines. They would be used as navigation aids for subsea drones removing the need for acoustic positioning systems and pricey mother vessels.

Data-driven decision-making

Pipeline corrosion is one of the major oil and gas production industry problems that cost operators more than one billion USD a year. ROSEN Group supports the creation of the ‘integrity data warehouse' project aimed to house pipeline data sets from all over the world. It will give operators the opportunity to look outside the data that pertains to one asset and use information from other pipelines that might be applicable to theirs. This approach will allow to create better predictive models and improve decision-making.



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