A pipeline simulation system is an excellent tool for providing training to operators, planners and dispatchers. It allows creating hydraulic scenarios to teach about pipeline behavior and to test operator's responses to abnormal conditions. In 1998, LICENERGY started an ambitious project of implementing a trainer system for the three major multi-product pipelines operated by the Colombian Petroleum Company, Ecopetrol. The main target was to provide a simulation system that would act as a mockup of the real pipeline, receiving operator/instructor commands and sending calculated data to the SCADA system. The data is displayed in SCADA's user interface screens identical to the ones used by the operator in normal pipeline operation. Most of the SCADA functions should be available as if the user was operating on the real SCADA system. This paper explains the process of implementing the system, its functions, limitations and the experiences gathered during all phases of the project.
Ecopetrol operates more than 3,300 miles of pipeline transporting crude oil from the production fields to the refineries and export terminals, and refined products from the refineries and import terminals to the consumption centers and to major distributors. The refined products include gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, aviation gas, LPG and others. The trainer project covers only 3 pipeline sections (about 730 miles of pipeline) of the total pipeline system. These sections are:
Refined products pipeline from Pozos Colorados to Galan
Refined products pipeline from Sebastopol to Yumbo
Refined products pipeline from Puerto Salgar to Bogotá
The trainer system is part of a global project that includes SCADA, instrumentation, telecommunications, simulation-based leak detection, batch tracking and scraper tracking. The trainer is not only used to train personnel, but also to analyze possible operating strategies or to design contingency plans.
The concept behind the Trainer is to create, in the SCADA system, a virtual environment where the field instrumentation data is replaced by model-generated data. Boundary conditions to drive the hydraulic model are provided either by the instructor from the Instructor console, or by the operator via regular SCADA commands, e.g. open valve, start pump, change setpoint, etc. The SCADA Trainer database is an off-line copy of the real-time SCADA database. The analog and bdigital points for the Trainer are similar to a subset of the SCADA signals for the field instruments (e.g. pipeline pressures, flow rates, temperatures and densities, valve positions), but these signals are calculated points whose values are provided by the Trainer Model. A new set of station schematic displays is required on the SCADA side of the Trainer. These displays are very similar in appearance to the station displays used to operate the real pipeline. The only difference is that the dynamic fields are linked to simulated points for those points handled by the Trainer Model.