This paper describes in detail the key experiences of a well-established Oil & Gas company in Latin America related to the implementation and evolution of a Pipeline Advanced Application project; how these applications have helped the organization to improve the knowledge of its own networks, and how they have provided a solid foundation to manage the critical problem of product theft. Ecopetrol S.A. (Ecopetrol) is responsible to build and operate the whole Colombian transport infrastructure and distribution of oil & gas and refined products by means of its 8,500 kilometer network of pipelines which run from the production centers to the refineries and ports in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Ecopetrol has the responsibility to guarantee supplies of oil and biofuels production throughout Colombia, whether its own production or through domestic or foreign third party providers (Figure 1). Ecopetrol started implementing real-time online application technology in 1998, mainly motivated by the desire to eliminate hydrocarbon leaks, thefts and losses occurred in the provision of the transport service. The paper is supported by field data gathered by Ecopetrol that describes the evolution and performance of the application as well as the overall performance achieved.


The pipeline network of Ecopetrol consists of 50 transportation systems, including more than 52 supply, delivery, storage and pump stations. The transportation network is grouped into two main systems: multiproduct pipelines and crude pipelines. Due to the complex topography of Colombia, including the Andes mountain chain located at the central and west side of the country, almost all of these pipelines have elevation profiles with dramatic variations from 0 meters to 3,000 meters (0 to 10,000 feet) and temperature changes of up to 30° C (54° F) within a few miles

Technology Background

Ecopetrol controls and operates all its multiproduct pipelines through a SCADA system located at the Main Control Center in Bogota. On top of the SCADA system Ecopetrol implemented a set of advanced applications. These applications are based on a real time transient model, which consists of a hydraulic and thermodynamic representation of the product's physical behavior while traveling through the pipelines. The model takes into consideration heat exchange with the surrounding environment, the physical properties of the pipeline and the physical properties of the transported products. The model thoroughly details the pipeline's present state under any operating scenario. Using the real time model as a platform for Ecopetrol's multiproduct pipelines the following applications have been configured: Leak Detection & Location, Shut-In Leak Detection, Batch Tracking, Scraper Tracking, and an Operator Trainer tool. Currently Ecopetrol has all of its 14 multiproduct pipelines configured and running with applications for Leak Detection, Batch Tracking and Scraper Tracking.

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