A discussion on the benefits of modern communications for pipeline operations
Proceedings Publication Date
Ian Holden
Ian Holden
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Pipeline operations and security increasingly benefit from the provision of dedicated high speed, high availability communications in the form of dedicated Fibre optic backbones. The benefit to operations being real time control with updated information available instantaneously from single, often remote, control centres.

The benefit to security, is increased CCTV coverage at all sites and fibre optic intrusion sensing, not only at sites but along the entire pipeline. The cost of the fibre and installation on new pipelines is small compared to the cost of pipe itself. Fibre hosted communications typically enable much more data to be gathered from all pipeline sites in a central location. This data in turn enables improved operational changes, responses, predictive maintenance and perhaps most importantly of all, leak detection. Using the fibre as a sensor in conjunction with an internal LDS, can provide a ‘belt and braces’ approach to leak detection.

This paper outlines the benefits of Fibre Optic communications for Pipeline Operations and Security. As ‘Digitalisation’ is now with us, Fibre communications enable the transfer of the data required to the ‘Edges’ and to the useful applications they can facilitate.

In addition the paper will discuss the control philosophies of a pipeline with modern communications - when to adopt a SCADA and when to adopt a DCS. A SCADA supervising whole pipelines with separate ICSS at main stations and RTUs at Block Valve sites is still a common approach for new pipelines. However, high speed, high availability, secure communications enable a much tighter integrated approach, i.e. a single ICSS spreading 100s or even 1000s of KM.

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