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Editorial comment

Arthur D. Little’s recently published ‘Disruption is now’ report, declares that “a nation’s digital backbone must be thought of as a strategic asset – just like aviation, shipping, water, energy, and road and rail.”1 The report, which comes from ADL’s Energy & Utilities Practice, explains how the maturity of digital networks and the reliability of data connections are key to both economic growth and meeting energy transition targets.

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After an in-depth discussion of the energy resources and cleantech market segments, the report concludes: “It is evident that most companies in the energy and resources sector will need to go through a period of unprecedented change if they are to be fit-for-purpose in an increasingly decarbonised, decentralised, and digitalised world.” It continues: “For most, achieving greater operational efficiency by embracing digitisation will be the only way to develop the flexibility needed to quickly adapt to changing market conditions.”

In the pipeline sector, smart connected devices enable remote monitoring and this, in turn, facilitates data analysis and predictive maintenance processes. Reliable operational data and diagnosis bring the kind of insight that can drastically change the way your company does business.

On p. 14 of this issue of World Pipelines, Steffen Zendler (Rockwell Automation) writes about modernising pipeline operations and outlines how smart operations can enable seamless connectivity across an entire oil and gas operation. Rockwell Automation’s joint venture with Schlumberger (‘Sensia’) demonstrates the power of automation to connect and elevate the sector. Read the article for an interesting case study on Perenco, which found its distributed control system lacking and needed to make a tough decision on upgrading or replacing.

Starting on p. 17, Alex de Joode (Head of Pipelines and Terminals Business Unit at AP Sensing and Chairman of the Technical Committee for the Fiber Optic Sensing Association [FOSA]) discusses distributed fibre optic sensing-based leak detection and location software (DFOS-PLDS) systems. The article analyses the applicability of these relatively new technologies within API standards and recommended practices.

I also want to highlight this month’s hydrogen pipelines feature: starting on p. 33 we look at the feasibility of hydrogen pipeline transport. The special feature covers requirements for pipeline networks, repurposing existing infrastructure, gas blending, integrity and safety of pipeline steels, testing, financing, land rights and legislation.

The ADL report states that: “The biggest challenge for energy networks relates to energy transition: dealing with new energy flows triggered by a growing number of renewable energy sources and having to handle new energy carriers in the energy system at large.” Hydrogen is increasingly being brought into the energy portfolios of oil and gas companies of all kinds. The hydrogen economy will require new business models, informed investments decisions and capable steering by policymakers. “Pipelines tend to be central to any integrated national hydrogen plan” according to the report, so, while we wait for demand to be secured, we must take steps to define and develop our respective strategies towards this fuel of the future.


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