As natural gas pipeline operations within North America become more competitive, most companies are looking for any advantage to reduce annual operating and maintenance expenses which will keep transportation tolls as low as possible. With the major advances in pipeline SCADA systems and significant improvements in desktop computing, Real Time Models (RTM's) have become a reality in the natural gas pipeline industry over the past decade. RTM's have typically been implemented on pipelines to take the place of physical field facilities that are required to provide pipeline pressure data where SCADA information has been too difficult to obtain or justify. This has been a common occurrence in recent years as new residential communities move in on existing pipeline rights of way. When new pipelines are constructed, the ability to integrate SCADA facilities is much easier since the additional costs can be absorbed into the larger overall project cost. Once a pipeline is utilizing and applying SCADA data, an RTM can be implemented and ultimately become a multi-functional tool for gas controllers and engineering support staff to operate and optimize the pipeline. One of the primary challenges for pipeline companies employing an RTM is endeavoring to keep the model current with system network modifications as well as changes in company personnel. Moreover, an RTM is quite often developed with no intention of being implemented as a mission critical system, which in turn can cause the greatest degeneration of the intended application. This lack of recognition inevitably results in disuse and disinterest. Without this importance given to the RTM a large majority of them realize the fate of ending up locked in a back room collecting dust. A typical response from a company employee asked if they still use their RTM is "the person who developed it transferred to a different department" or "the network is so far out of date". Realistically, when an RTM is operationally distinguished as a mission critical system and is integrally linked to a pipeline SCADA system, the results can be very rewarding for employees responsible for maximizing the optimal performance of the pipeline. This paper will recount the methodology of how Alliance Pipeline installed a mission critical RTM model and how it is currently being used nearly two years later. The model was designed to perform many tasks and calculations that most other pipelines would house within their SCADA systems. Alliance resolved that the RTM software was incomparable, with regard specifically to hydraulic calculations. Therefore, the RTM is treated and supported with a similar level of criticality, as is the pipeline SCADA system.

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