Transporting millions of tons of products through thousands of miles of pipeline safely and efficiently is difficult at the best of times. While pipelines are proven to be the safest way to transport hydrocarbon products over long distances, data from the National Energy Board in Canada shows that over the past three years ‘incorrect operation’ caused an average of 20 pipeline leaks per year. An increase of four leaks annually from the previous six years. ‘Incorrect operation’ can be defined as anything from failing to follow up procedures, to using equipment improperly.

Pipelines installed in the US over the past five years have the highest rate of failure since those built in the 1920s. There is also more risk of failure for older pipelines as our existing, aging global infrastructure is pushed to carry more and more product to meet growing demand. In North America, oil and gas pipelines are a critical component of the energy infrastructure and play a vital role in fueling the economy. When key pipelines are shut down by a leak, everyone feels the pain.

There is little doubt that challenges associated with training of control personnel compounded the damage caused by several of those pipeline accidents. It is difficult to expose operators to abnormal operating conditions if they are only trained on real pipelines. A pipeline operator is asked to control different pipelines on average every 3 years, making ‘hands-on’ training alone inadequate. Even when a pipeline company operates perfectly, a third party can instigate an unexpected disaster such as a third-party strike. A pipeline simulation trainer is the best way to provide formal training, testing, and retraining of Pipeline Controllers. It is extremely effective in preparing Pipeline Controllers for abnormal events such as leaks that cannot be practiced on a real pipeline.

Atmos Trainer mimics the unique operational characteristics of a specific pipeline. It uses a flexible software model to provide a high-fidelity, virtual copy of the selected pipeline and its associated equipment in a computer interfaced to a full SCADA system. The Pipeline Controller experiences operating all the equipment on the selected pipeline, including:

  • Pumps/compressors – type (centrifugal, positive displacement etc.) at each station
  • Tanks
  • Filters
  • Control and block valves
  • Transmitters
  • Heaters/coolers
  • Fire alarms
  • Seismic activity monitors

Features such as full visual logic control block configuration for PID and Ideal Controls, shutdown keys, interlocks, and permission to operate assure your pipeline controllers a realistic virtual experience.

A comprehensive Operator Scoring and Qualification Module captures and documents the Controllers’ performances by tracking and evaluates their interaction with the system. The system maintains records of each operator’s training history and performance improvements in accordance with regulatory requirements and API recommended practices.

The Atmos trainer system provides a tactile ‘look-alike environment’ where Pipeline Controllers can experience guided or self-training sessions to improve their skills and better prepare for unwanted and unforeseen abnormal operating conditions. A pipeline operator cannot predict with certainty what will occur during a future operation, but regular practice will improve their intuitive reactions to emergency situations and hone their implementation of the company emergency response procedure, assuring they will be at their best when abnormal events occur.

Training your controllers so that they respond calmly and correctly to abnormal operating condition could make the difference between an emergency and a catastrophe.

Categories: Company news , Events

By: Atmos International
Date: 16 April 2019