Hydraulic modeling has become a critical component in the development of oil and gas pipeline infrastructure. As more transmission lines are installed across North America in an effort to meet rising production demands, flow networks have become more complex and fully utilized. In turn, the issues associated with oil and gas distribution operations have become more difficult to combat.
In recent years, hydraulic modeling has become a cost-effective solution to this analyzing this problem. Technological advances in computer hardware coupled with new and improved data analysis techniques, engineering firms now have the capability to gather data and accurately evaluate flow and pressure drops across highly complex pipeline systems.
In doing so, producers have the ability to effectively develop master plans and make more intelligent business decisions regarding their pipeline infrastructure. The process of expanding, de-bottlenecking, and/or expanding existing networks has become much more streamlined with the help of hydraulic modeling. This can be attributed in large part to the fact that producers can predict with a great deal of accuracy how pipeline networks will perform without actually having to physically test them.
Advanced modeling techniques have also allowed for improvements in maintenance and repair operations, more specifically, for determining the most efficient methods for pipeline upgrades or replacements. In the past, small lines had to be installed periodically to meet changes in production demand. However, with the use of hydraulic modeling, enough data can be gathered to quickly and efficiently identify, design and install lines that will meet current and future demands.
Right of Way is also placing limitations on network expansions, which limits the ability to supplement existing lines as the need arise. Hydraulic modeling gives producers the information they need to make decisions regarding future production rates, and while this methodology is generally met with higher initial expenditures, the significantly lower costs incurred over the course of the network’s useful life have made it a highly attractive option for a growing number of producers across North America.