In this paper we present the first experiences with a prototype model-based decision support tool known as the "route planner for gas transport". The route planner is an online tool that advises dispatchers on how to minimise operational costs while maintaining security of supply. The tool consists of a reduced network model of the Dutch gas transport network that can be loaded with actual network configuration and flow forecasts for upcoming 24 hours. The output is the cost optimal use of compression, gas blending including nitrogen ballasting and supply flexibility for network balancing. In short, the route planner finds the most cost effective route through the transport network to meet end-user demand for the upcoming day. The basic concept was presented at the PSIG 2009 [1], with the focus on demonstrating the "apparent intelligence" of the optimizer core when facing decision dilemma's. This study was for a subsection of the network only. Since then practical experiences have been gained with the complete prototype system and for the entire network, namely: The prototype has demonstrated to be able to maintain its "apparent intelligence" even for a five times more complex network, creating plans with a milar feel to them as those made by dispatchers. Dedicated routines for the automatic calibration of the reduced network models were found to be essential for operating the tool in a real life environment and for gaining trust in its advice. Modelling the blending stations and nitrogen ballasting during the low flow situations in summer proved to be more challenging then the modelling of the compressor stations during the winter. The tests demonstrated that the main task of the route planner is to provide strategic advice on the use of stations, rather then providing detailed set points for a particular station. This illustrates once more that the route planner is intended to work intimately together with a simulator, rather then replacing it. In this paper we will briefly re-introduce the concept, present the key findings of the replay tests. We will also introduce a potential spin-off application that might be of interest for gas transport companies in general. In principle it is rather straight forward for the route planner to rerun past and future cases with various levels of safety margins, thus creating insight in the cost impact of the various operational margins.


With the unbundling of the integrated company Gasunie in 2005 in the trading company GasTerra and the transport company Gasunie. The operator of the Gasunie network is Gas Transport Services (GTS). With the unbundling the day-to-day gas dispatching process has become considerably more complex. The network is now open to a much larger number of shippers and gas brought into the network can be traded on the TTF spot market. In the mean time indigenous supply flexibility has decreased, new pipelines, LNG terminals, storages come on-line and energy prices have doubled.

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