Oil and gas pipeline operators can stay out of the news by staying “in the cloud’’–and taking advantage of today’s increasingly powerful cloud-based data processing engines to reduce risk and improve safety.
That’s the theme of a presentation I am making with Ed Wiegle, TRC's Senior VP of Oil and Gas, in Calgary on June 27 as Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts its Oil & Gas Industry Day. As part of a roster of industry experts examining new applications, digitization, embedded smart sensors, databases, and the use of big data, we’ll be explaining the most up-to-date approaches for managing, processing and distributing information.
Gains in big data and cloud-based processing services are enabling pipeline operators to process once-unimaginable amounts of data in order to run detailed analyses that improve the transparency and safety of pipeline operations. For decades, pipeline companies relied on manual efforts to route pipelines, quantify risk, and improve safety. Developing and analyzing a single “what-if” scenario could take months of computation. But today, the growing power of cloud computing is enabling operators to study sets of multiple ‘‘what-if’’ scenarios that can be developed in just days.
One of the most exciting opportunities today, which we will be discussing in Calgary, is our industry’s ability to use cloud-based services to correlate dynamic, real-time data with static infrastructure data. A high-value, high-impact example of that is the mapping of seismic data during earthquakes to the locations of pipelines. In a state like Oklahoma, which has more than 43,500 miles of state-regulated pipelines and a recent history of increasing seismic activity, pipeline operators can immediately evaluate the severity and depth of an earthquake, as it is happening. That analysis rapidly enables supervisors to alert pipeline-integrity specialists about locations that may merit prompt inspection to repair damage and prevent spills or ruptures.
Pipeline systems remain the safest way to transport oil and gas, even if operators have recently been seeing an uptick in political and public concerns over safety and environmental impacts. With the relentless growth in the capabilities and processing power of AWS Cloud Services like EC2, RDS, Lambda, and QuickSite, pipeline operators today have unprecedented opportunities to evaluate and mitigate risks and enhance their performance and safety.