By Matt Smiley
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As any engineer or operator can tell you, operating a midstream gathering system can be a challenge. Along with all the regulatory duties, midstream systems require just as much attention as their upstream counterparts, wellhead production. The geographic expanse of a midstream system presents a fundamental problem: how can I know what is happening on one end of the pipeline while I’m on the other end? With pipelines stretching over multiple counties, states, and even countries, the ability to access data in a timely manner is of the utmost importance. Gone are the days of waiting for accounting reconciliation to determine the fuel and loss across a gathering system. Leveraging the power of a proven SCADA system like zdSCADA®, operators can be alerted to potential pipeline leaks in minutes, not weeks.

In addition to receipt meters and sales meters, many savvy operators are monitoring all sources of gas consumption. Compressor fuel meters, vapor recovery meters and flares, to name just a few, all contribute to the total system balance. Your system balance is only as good as the completeness of your telemetered devices. Without a robust SCADA solution, operators are left to guesswork and assumptions.

Another concern for midstream operators is pressure drop across a system. Remote pressure monitoring systems allow operators to have “eyes” in the field and know with certainty what their pressure drop across the system equates to. Innovative and creative alarms can monitor the system and alert the field personnel when specified limits have been reached. These alarms can quickly and efficiently identify problems or potential problems such as pipeline leaks or fluid slugs in a pipeline.

The digital age of pipeline operation is upon us. Tools like SCADA give operators the ability to monitor midstream gathering systems on timely basis. When properly configured, SCADA is an asset that can save an operator both time and money.