With the advent of the deregulation of the gas industry and recent FERC orders related to the scheduling and segmentation of pipeline capacity, a much tighter and more efficient relationship between pipeline operations, marketing, and other departments within a pipeline company is necessary. Traditional methods for coordinating pipeline operations with potential marketing opportunities and profitable business practices tend to be inefficient and incomplete when dealing with the new complexities of the natural gas industry. Pipeline simulation is a sophisticated tool that can help tremendously with this process, but tends to be under used or not used at all. It is no longer sufficient to just use pipeline simulation technology to solve hydraulic problems, but rather integration and automation tools must be used to combine pipeline simulation with business analysis to solve business problems that affect revenues and profits. This represents the next evolutionary stage and the future of pipeline simulation, and is technology that is critically important to pipeline companies in order for them to remain competitive. Some of the various modules that are needed for advanced state of the art business and operational solutions as well as integration and automation techniques for combining these modules with pipeline simulation are discussed along with a recent implementation of this type of business solution.


Due to the highly competitive and regulatory nature of the natural gas pipeline business today, there is increasing pressure placed on optimizing throughput while maintaining adherence to the regulatory requirements which constrain the system. Automation and simulation advances have reached the point where simple hydraulics is no longer adequate in analyzing the operation of a pipeline system. To achieve the full potential of a pipeline's day to day and long range capabilities, it is necessary to create a marriage of business applications with simulation technology. A typical gas day is spent analyzing and scheduling gas for the next cycle and for the next gas day. Little time is available for seeking additional opportunities in the movement of gas and in increasing the profitability of the system. Effective automation techniques minimize the time spent on recurring tasks and create more time for performing in depth analysis. Using simulation to automatically analyze different scenarios benefits all elements of a pipeline company. Advanced simulation software coupled with corporate data sources through automation and integration techniques enables the enhancement of not only pipeline operations but also business operations. While the simulation of pipelines is best managed by engineers familiar with the operation and operability of the physical system, almost all departments and functions within a pipeline company can benefit from the analysis afforded by simulation software. Software capable of presenting data and results to the right people and in the right format is crucial to the effectiveness of business wide applications and solutions that can be used and understood by both technical and non-technical personnel. There are several key business practices which can benefit from the inclusion of simulation and automation.

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