Pipeline maps – constant management
By Ken Wilson
The pipeline industry is in constant need of tools fit for providing information necessary for pipeline localization, surveillance and management. This brief enumeration is sufficient to suggest that an opportunity of consistently having an eye on the status of pipelines is deeply serviceable. Competently designed pipeline maps frequently make one of the preferred frameworks for staying informed on pipelines distribution and condition.
Any strategy targeting major supervising and development in the pipeline industry requires solid structuring of the available data. On a regular basis, the data demanded by a firm organization of the pipeline map framework need management and analysis. The latter aspects are covered successfully by an optimal fusion between GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technologies and entire databases of geographical facts (geodatabases). With the assistance of such technologies, we are able to permanently develop some of the most successful approaches needed for the outline of the operating expenses implied by a steady consideration of and involvement in the design, the maintenance and the impact of pipeline systems throughout the nation.
We contemplate the recent statement of those from TransCanada. They are working on acquiring one of the U.S. major operators of interstate natural gas systems, namely ANR Pipeline. The area covered by these pipeline systems is immense (more than 10,000 miles). Subsequently, the surveillance and management of a system of such proportions will undoubtedly have to match its complexity. The aspects to consider cover more than just geographical connections. The systematization of the pipeline maps may also suggest (to the teams in charge of the organization and repeated examination of any pipeline map in their area of concern) that one issue necessary to acknowledge and deal with is related to the various intricacies at the environmental and economic levels.
How will GIS technologies bring their assistance in the competent design of pipeline maps? For one thing, GIS will provide data concerning the human, social, geographic, and economic circumstances that have an influence on the construction and maintenance of pipeline systems. As a result, the creation of any pipeline map needs to reflect any such multiplicity of levels. One can imagine the complexity of a series of pipeline maps for a natural gas pipeline operator such as ANR Pipeline.
Look at it like this: they will have to consider the storage and transportation facilities and issues, as well as the producing fields. If we are to think exclusively about the producing fields managed by ANR Pipeline, we will clearly see just how complex GIS technologies are. For ANR Pipeline exclusively, pipeline maps cover various producing fields in the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. And when we add the major impact of TransCanada and its own conditions of storage and transportation, any pipeline map is adjusted by means of GIS technologies in order to match the levels of geographic and economic sophistication of the above mentioned circumstances.
GIS technologies targeting a proper design and application of pipeline maps refer to what might appear like an impressive number of functions. No matter their number, they are nonetheless the basic requirements of a well-built, comprehensive pipeline map. To be more precise, GIS will deal with projects ranging from location data (coordinates) for welds to surrounding circumstances which might affect the gas extraction or transportation.
Subsequently, a pipeline map creator will consider a number of features which may be picked up from direct, in-the-field observation and even from satellite data which GIS technologies employ frequently. Locating a pipe and a pipe mill's corrosion degree or development is also possible. Vegetation and wildlife impact are also considered with some types of maps. Moreover, major forested or watered areas will need specific information on the status of the roads of access to the producing fields. Pollution degree and possibilities of rendering pipeline areas more secure also form one type of needed information.
Also, even if what we have just enumerated is a mere inventory of pipeline activity impact on the surrounding areas, pipeline maps frequently focus on issues of money management. In point of fact, this is why GIS technologies try to estimate as flawlessly as possible the potential influence of pipeline operations on the environment. In the end, a major part of operating expenses can be spared if advanced technologies are employed. Of course, operating expenses are not the single issue here. A competent generation of pipeline maps is the basis for the development of better work conditions and for the improved management of the system of pipelines with everything that it implies: extraction, processing, transportation, and marketing.
About the Author
Any pipeline map designed on the basis of advanced technologies will fit the complexity of the work in the pipeline industry. Moreover, pipeline maps are the fundamental feature of a pipeline business.
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