Over the last ten years, energy companies, including gas gatherers, transmission and distribution companies have begun using pipeline simulation to design and operate pipeline systems. They have also begun using Geographic Information Systems ("GIS") to make maps, meet regulatory requirements, and as a business development and planning tool. Because GIS and pipeline simulation software have similar characteristics and use similar data these companies have begun integrating the two. This paper discusses the issues and experiences of creating pipeline simulation models from GIS.
Targa Resources, Inc. is one of the largest independent midstream natural gas and Natural Gas Liquids ("NGL") companies in the United States. Targa owns or operates over 11,300 miles of natural gas gathering and NGL pipelines and 22 natural gas processing plants with over 10 billion cubic feet of capacity in the United States. As a prudent and profitable operator, Targa has invested significant time and resources to develop and use information and engineering systems such as Geographic Information System ("GIS") and pipeline simulation to help operate its pipeline systems safely and efficiently. Who Is Gregg Engineering? Gregg Engineering, Inc. (GEI) is a developer and supplier of Pipeline Simulation Software for modeling all types of pipeline networks, including gathering, transmission, and distribution systems, both under Steady and Transient conditions, including Real Time.
In 1996, we purchased GEI's Winflow pipeline simulation software to help design and operate our gas gathering pipeline systems. To get started we hired a consultant familiar with pipeline simulation software to build a model of a small part of one the gathering systems. The consultant obtained copies of the gathering system paper maps and began building the models by sketching the system free hand using the pipeline simulation software's graphical interface and entering information about the system such as pipe length and diameter by hand into the model. The consultant soon found that the maps were not up to date and in some cases were in error. After spending many months in the field updating and correcting the information in the model, the consultant developed a model that correctly represented the gathering system. When the consultant presented the information to the drafting department to update the maps the head of the drafting department said that the information was of no use because it had not been developed according to drafting standards. Unfortunately, the model was also not very useful as a map.
As a result of our frustrations with building pipeline simulation models from our maps and keeping our maps up to date, we undertook a study of our business processes. At that time we used a Computer Aided Design (CAD) computer program to draw and maintain our maps. CAD represented a vast improvement over hand drawn maps and was supposed to