Pipeline open data standards association user conference

Pipeline Week/GITA co-hosted event hears of ‘next generation’ PODS, Noah on ’smart,’ projects for linear referencing and construction, TransCanada on ILI data, BSD on Iploca/Pods convergence.

Speaking at the Pipeline open data standards (Pods) association’s 2015 user conference, now held jointly with GITA and hosted by Pipeline Week, Pods president Kenneth Greer (Enable Midstream) introduced a roadmap to a next-generation Pods association. Next generation Pods involves a revamp of governance, strategy and communications with members. The watchword, as befits an ‘open’ organization, is transparency with plans for something that is ‘fundamentally different.’ Current, pre-new generation projects are Alrp*, new construction (phase 2) and offshore.

The need for a technology revamp stems from the fact that currently, the standard is not applied consistently across member organizations, a handicap to interoperability. To achieve this, the Pods template is to be simplified and strengthened with a reduction in the number of core tables (Ppdm take note!). A new modeling language, Pipeline ML will leverage OGC geospatial conventions. New requirements from the US National pipeline mapping system will be addressed and a feature code library and data-loading solutions for ArcGIS and CAD are to be developed. Software behavior is to be constrained by common codes to promote interoperability and check conformance with the standard. Fast forwarding to December 2015, the next gen Pods strategic plan has been approved by the board and will be presented at upcoming town hall/webcasts in January 2016.

Jim Crompton from Noah Consulting (now an Infosys unit) argued that the downturn is the time to make a case for ‘standards-based agility.’ While some companies are in survival mode, reducing activity and selling assets, others are engaged in strategic investing, picking up assets at fire-sale prices and preparing for better days. All are cutting costs, but which costs to cut? Crompton argues that digitization – smart pigs, intelligent pipelines – make good candidates for investment in the downturn. There are also plenty of reasons to continue with the standards effort even though barriers exist. But the business case for interoperability remains and is achievable through loose integration of existing standards. This requires a commitment from operators and compliance from vendors. Crompton wound up with a plug for the Standards leadership council which is working to identify areas of standards intersection and to avoid duplicate or conflicting standards.

Bruce Dupuis (TransCanada Pipeline - TCPL) described some of the challenges encountered using Pods 6.0 relational to manage in-line inspection (ILI) data in an enterprise environment. TransCanada was working with integrity specialist Rosen to implement a pipeline information management system (Pims) and found that the standards Pods ILI module did not meet its requirements for scalability, integration and centerline management. TCPL conducts over 100 ILIs per year and has over a billion records from its 650 km network. TCPL evaluated various options and decided to manage its ILI data outside of Pods. The new ILI module has some 13 primary tables with over 300 attributes and has been designed to follow regular Pods conventions so that it could be re-inserted into the database at a later date.

Nichole Killingsworth (BSD Consulting) provided an update on the project for a new data standard for pipeline construction, a joint venture between Pods and the Geneva, Switzerland-based International pipe line and offshore contractors association (Iploca). The project sets out to expand the Pods model to accommodate the data collected and during the construction phase of pipeline projects. Phase 1 documentation completed in 2014. The ongoing phase 2 will add documentation to support the proposed data model changes and create workflow diagram to illustrate how data flows from each stage of construction. There is agreement that a new module is required for construction but there remain differences on how to store the data particularly with the impending ‘next generation’ model revamp.

John Linehan (Wood Group Kenny) reported from the offshore workgroup that is expanding Pods 6.0 to accommodate offshore-specific data objects. The project has received input from BP’s ‘Spatial golden build’ (Oil IT Sept 2013). The team has reviewed sample datasets provided by Anadarko, BP and Genesis and has proposed some 40 tables or modifications to the existing model. The work is currently up for public comment and should be ratified in Q1 2016.

* ArcGIS Location Reference for Pipelines. More on this topic in our next issue.

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