This paper discuss some of the consequences of the development of the information technology (IT) over the past 10-15 years, and why hydraulic models to some extend have suffered from this development. The future will continue to change the way models are used in the industry. The models will change from being almost synonymous with applications to be components in the IT infrastructure utilized in many different applications - and by users ranging from modeling experts to nontechnical people with no understanding of the physical process of moving fluids in pipelines.
Looking back some 15-20 years most pipelines were operated using pen and paper, telephone and fax, and computers primarily in four distinct and independent areas to design pipelines to analyze and plan operation, to acquire real time process data and remotely control the process (SCADA), to manage finances and accounting What has changed since then since IT has become so important in the pipeline business? Could we still operate pipelines without the support of IT? And if not - what do we really need IT for? The key to an answer to these questions is the dynamics of the pipeline, i.e. the expectation that the physical pipeline as well as the business can change continuously, and that decisions are required all the time in order to keep up with the ever increasing demand for flexibility. Not too many years ago, the pipeline was very much in charge of the decision on how to operate. Plans could be made for month and years. Now the market expects that plans can be changed by the hour, and that the transportation cost is constantly reduced without compromising the security of supply. The operation of the pipeline has always been a real time task, while planning and accounting is moving from a very much asynchronous ‘back office’ process to a front-end real time process. Customers of the pipeline want flexibility which means shorter planning horizons and the pipeline company want faster allocation as a basis for faster billing. But it is not only shorter turn-around times - it is also a question of better utilization of the physical and human resources, and a larger focus on security of supply and protection of the environment. This paper is an attempt to summarize the status after 10-15 years with a tremendous growth in the information technology and a simultaneous change in the way pipeline companies are operated. In some way, we have to restructure the way the IT is used in the pipeline industry - especially the way we use pipeline simulation. Quite unfair, pipeline simulation has got a negative image in the industry - mainly among non-technical staff as attempts have been made to justify investments in models with applications outside their traditional environment among engineers. This is not to say that nothing has happened in the last years - but there is no doubt that some revisions can revive the pipeline simulation as a necessary tool in the industry.