Advanced Analytics and Liquids Pipelines Operations Optimization
Posted by Richard Zdunkewicz on October 24, 2018
Pipeline operations performance measurement and cost management have historically relied on long-view unit costs to analyze and adjust pumping power, and the application of drag reducing agent. Recently, data that measures shorter time intervals has become available and offers new opportunities for enhanced optimization and cost reduction. Internal cost reduction drivers that vary over very short intervals enough to merit analysis, include power demand and usage, natural gas usage and drag reducing agent injection. These cost drivers are a function of the variability of flow rates, line pressures and other parameters that are also observable and available for analysis over short intervals as well. Further, profound changes in the external energy markets have turned what was presumed to be a static and predictable price into more dynamic and varied price options that reward more precise monitoring and management of their impact on pipeline operations.
Liquids pipelines behave much like ecosystems; even with a fixed flow rate in a scheduled delivery, conditions along the pipeline fluctuate and affect pump performance at individual stations. Thus, the prescribed configurations of pumping and drag reducing agent settings, which are historically based on exit flow from the last station in the pipeline system, do not effectively manage costs.
In order for liquids pipeline companies to exploit savings opportunity and ensure consistency of operations, predetermined pumping configurations, or “playbooks”, largely based on measurement of the exit flow from the last station in the system, were developed. The various ‘plays’ in the playbook took into account a variety of delivery scenarios and were prescriptive settings specific to pump operation and drag reducing agent injection, but were blind to the savings impact of taking the cost of energy and drag reducing agent on a shorter interval basis into account.
Based on the availability of new information and changes in market pricing and incentives, it is becoming much easier to form a hypothesis that updating and potentially adding plays to the playbook that take into account energy and drag reducing agent costs over shorter periods of time, while still consider the other critical delivery factors to yield materially lower operations costs.
As an analytics-focused energy management consultancy, Acclaim Energy utilizes a client’s operational data to model pipeline operations, including fluid horsepower, power demand, energy prices and rates, drag reducing agent usage and total operations costs across all pump stations. We are then able to then analyze what actions would be required to generate energy and drag reducing agent savings under various operating and energy market conditions.
Acclaim Energy has been able to develop cost management strategies and pumping configurations that generate operational savings in excess of ten percent, and for some operations, in excess of twenty percent.