Pipeline software moves

Activity is hotting up in the transmission sector as Baker Hughes Petrolite acquires Baseline, GeoFields spins-off a new international unit and Invensys allies with Energy Solutions.

A lot has happened in the pipeline software marketplace this month, as operators in the US ramp-up their pipeline inspection activity, driven by the US DOT’s ‘Proposed Rule for Pipeline Integrity Management in High Consequence Areas (Gas Transmission Pipelines).’ These rules stipulate that operators must assess at least 50% of their line pipe before December 2006.


Defining HCAs leverages sophisticated GIS-based methods combining geocoded population data with pipeline route maps. Compliance management of pipeline inspection program is forcing operators to revamp their data management strategies across the board.

Baker Petrolite

Our first ‘pipeline move’ involves Baker Hughes’ acquisition of Baseline Technologies of Calgary which will be rolled into its Petrolite Pipeline Management Group (PMG). Baseline provides data management products and services to help with operational and regulatory requirements. The suite includes a Pipeline Information Control System (PICS), for the implementation of pipeline integrity management programs.


Baseline president Bruce Dupuis said, ‘By joining forces with Baker Hughes, we are creating a ‘best in class’ pipeline integrity company, combining PMG’s inspection, engineering and cleaning resources with our vendor-neutral data management expertise. Our patented data-centric methodology and change management processes assure life cycle integrity management.’


Baker Petrolite President Andy O’Donnell added, ‘Geospatial integration of data from our in-line inspection and engineering data bases with operators’ existing data stores will greatly enhance the value of this data to our customer base.’


More pipeline activity this month came from Atlanta-based oil and gas pipeline data management specialist GeoFields which has spun-off a new wholly-owned unit to target the international market. The move coincides with the launch of a business partner program targeting the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and European markets.


GeoFields chairman Bahman Irvani said, ‘We’ve already begun to offer data management services outside North America, but we are now ready to dedicate much larger resources to establish our presence and gain market leadership overseas. GeoFields International (GFI) will offer pipeline data and application hosting, data modeling, database development and integration services to its international clients. GFI president Brad Schaaf said, ‘Demand is driving our international expansion. We have built our successful business on reliable, cutting edge technology coupled with great customer service, and we’re now ready to take that international.’

Energy Solutions

Signs of a buoyant pipeline software market came from Energy Solutions International (ESI) which reported its ‘best year ever’ for sales of its PipelineStudio flagship package for simulation and design of transmission pipelines. ESI now claims over 500 PipelineStudio installations around the world.


ESI CEO Al Jacob said, ‘Many companies find PipelineStudio valuable for designing and operating their pipelines for optimum efficiency and value. In the past few months we have added significant functionality to PipelineStudio and this increase in functionality is attracting many new customers.’


ESI has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Invensys Process Systems IPS on a strategic alliance and reseller relationship. The companies are to offer customers ‘intelligent solutions’ for pipeline automation and optimization.


Mike Chmilewski, IPS VP SCADA and Pipeline said, ‘Our companies have worked together informally for years. The alliance will allow us to grow our partnership, combining ESI’s technology with our own portfolio of technologies and services.’


The deal envisages integration of both companies’ technologies, joint marketing and evaluation of other potential synergies. Invensys will be trained on ESI’s Pipeline-Studio tools and ESI personnel will likewise train the relevant Foxboro, SimSci-Esscor, and Wonderware products from Invensys.


Felipe Borgli, control room coordinator with operator Transportadora Brasileira Gasoduto Bolívia-Brasil (TBG) said of the deal, ‘We’ve been using both ESI and Invensys products together successfully for six years. The products are a true compliment to each other and we anticipate this will make working with these companies even easier in the future.’


As the Brazilian operator’s testimony demonstrates, the pipeline industry is a truly global business. But the latest moves reflect a ramping up of the IT component of transmission—and show how the tightening of safety regulations is having an effect way beyond the United States’ borders.

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