Managing Energy Use in Pipeline Operations

Managing Energy Use in Pipeline Operations

Operating costs, efficiency and availability are key business drivers for pipeline operators.

As any pipeline operator will tell you, the electrical power needed to transport oil and gas is easily the largest recurring operational expense.

Securing inexpensive and reliable electricity is imperative to controlling your bottom line. In conjunction, identifying methods to reduce your power consumption can be a powerful strategy for reducing expense – especially in today’s power generation landscape.

An effective energy management strategy is essential. So how do you create one?

Step 1: Get Connected

You can’t fix what you can’t see. Step one in creating an energy management program is to consolidate data from your existing process automation system, power distribution network, associated instrumentation, and any other third-party intelligent electronic devices (IEDs).

This data gathering is easiest when all sources are connected on a single network with a common protocol such as Ethernet. If you use Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture®, data from these devices is already centralized, and can be mapped to the controller in real time.

Step 2: Implement Your Strategy

Once your data is centralized, you can begin to centralize reporting, visualization, archiving and control. You can then establish your parameters for success and set up a means to measure progress.

For example, you could establish maximum daily energy limits, and then monitor your energy usage to help prevent exceeding the limit. Some other basic ideas that could be iterated upon:

  • You could set up a process to begin load shedding when nearing a peak demand charge
  • When one or more variable speed drive(s) are part of the system, you could adjust drive speed to reduce the loading to a level that avoids penalty from your energy provider
  • During off-peak hours, you could increase load to capitalize on lower energy rates

Step 3: Beyond Energy Management

Connecting data and centralizing reporting and visualization will help you with energy management efforts, but going through this process also opens your company up to additional possibilities for improving operations:

  • Remote Monitoring: Extend the reach of subject matter experts and operators by allowing them to oversee operations and troubleshoot from any location in with world, using formatted, actionable data. Remote monitoring capabilities also allow your company to benefit from expertise available from external resources such as equipment manufacturers.
  • Simplified Troubleshooting: When the integrated control system is time synchronized and stamped, troubleshooting becomes much simpler. An accurately documented sequence of events is key to understanding the root cause of any issue.
  • Predictive Maintenance: Collecting trending information from IEDs and other components on your system allows you to establish a baseline for normal operation, which is then monitored on an ongoing basis. This is beneficial when tracking energy usage, but can also provide advance knowledge of operating variations that may be indicative of a need for maintenance or an impending failure. An example of this would be the collection and analysis of motor torque vibration signatures, which can provide advance knowledge of a possible failure.
  • Automatic Device Configuration: The information required to program and configure IEDs lives on the control network. This makes device replacement in the event of a failure simpler, since device configuration and programming information stored on the network for the failing device can be quickly downloaded to the new unit.

Anything that can be done to reduce energy usage while maintaining throughput can directly impact your bottom line.

Reduced energy consumption also projects a positive external market message about your commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. To learn more about strategies for energy management, or other areas for pipeline operations optimization, check out our whitepaper (PDF).

Rick Paes
Posted March 7, 2018 By Rick Paes, Technical Consultant for the Oil and Gas Industry, Rockwell Automation
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