As energy demands in the U.S. rise, oil and gas pipeline companies feel pressure from all angles. They not only have to push for higher production, they’re under scrutiny from regulators overseeing compliance and the public concerned about safety and environmental impacts. So oil and gas companies are doubling down and taking a fresh look at systems controlling every aspect of the business—from gathering and processing through transmission and distribution.
We’ve all seen how failures in oil and gas distribution system can be catastrophic. An aging gas line gives way and explodes, leading to lost lives, destroyed property, and a ruined company reputation. To avoid such disasters, gas companies may employ field staff to monitor distribution pipelines and gate stations and respond if a control system fails. But with hundreds of pressure-monitoring points, that approach gets costly.
Transmission lines can face similar problems. In one case, a catastrophic failure at a compressor station caused a fire that cost a U.S. company more than $500,000 in damages and lost product. With stations along thousands of miles of remote pipeline, many oil and gas companies believe that reliable control systems are the only practical way to prevent such incidents. But if their SCADA, historian, or HMI systems go down, they are still at risk.
Gathering and treatment operations also have challenges. Stratus worked with a company that was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per month because it couldn’t accurately monitor data from the extraction point through distribution, causing an imbalance in the company’s accounting. The problem was inaccurate manual collection of gas well data and aging SCADA systems. The desire was for real-time accuracy with no single point of failure, including in the SCADA system itself.
Some companies try to resolve these issues by throwing more servers at the problem. But the number of servers needed to cover the range of applications in each location becomes extremely costly. And even with a complex clustering solution, which adds even more cost, downtime may still persist.
At Stratus, we’ve partnered with oil and gas pipeline companies for more than a decade to solve problems like these.
Our approach is to eliminate “blind moments”—that’s any time an operator can’t control or see what’s going on with key components at pressure monitoring and compressor stations, as well as other control points along the pipeline. Blind moments are caused by downtime in SCADA, historian, HMI, and other critical systems. Stratus makes these blind spots go away simply and efficiently with a virtualized, always-on online 24×7 computing system.
Columbia Pipeline Group (CPG) is a great example of how Stratus always-on technology enables operators to keep the company’s compressor stations online 24×7. CPG relies on Stratus to ensure no data loss for CPG’s corporate analytics application that supports prognostics and predictive maintenance. This takes away the worry and dramatically reduces risk of a catastrophe. You can watch a short video to learn more about our role at CPG and how Stratus always-on solutions can protect and add value to your oil and gas operations.