Pipeline monitoring system uses object-oriented interfaces, real-time displays

In a move that breaks with traditional pipeline SCADA systems, the company is installing UCOS (User Configurable Open Systems) as the primary SCADA master station and data historian for the trans-Alaskan pipeline.


A new SCADA technology is expected to bring added efficiency to the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

In a move that breaks with traditional pipeline SCADA systems, the company is installing UCOS (User Configurable Open Systems) as the primary SCADA master station and data historian for the trans-Alaskan pipeline. The system is supplied by Control Systems International (CSI), which also provided implementation engineering for the project. UCOS applies object-oriented programming and user interface techniques, executes on standard off-the-shelf hardware, and can be integrated with existing field equipment that often requires no rewiring.

The trans-Alaskan Pipeline is more than 800 miles long and cost $8 billion dollars to build. It employs more than 70,000 people and includes more than 42,000 double joint welds and 66,000 field girth welds. The pipeline is designed to withstand earthquakes, using a support system that lets the pipeline move several hundred feet horizontally without jeopardizing its integrity. The line is monitored and controlled from a master station at the Valdez Marine Terminal in Prince William Sound, the farthest northern non-freezing port in America. The pipeline travels through three mountain ranges to deliver 17% of U.S. domestic oil production from Alaska’s North Slope at Prudhoe Bay.

When completed, the UCOS project will provide instantaneous monitoring and control of all significant aspects of the operation, including monitoring the pipeline’s leak detection system Operators using real-time dynamic graphic displays monitor the system 24-hr-a-day and control oil movement through the pipeline and tanker loading.

The system monitors and controls 3,047 input points and 352 control points on the pipeline and 1,074 input points and 461 control points at the marine terminal. It scans 14 data acquisition units on the pipeline, 24 units at the marine terminal, and 14 metering units, managing all data acquisition and control; alarm and data processing; display; and historical archiving and reporting. UCOS also interfaces with hydraulic modeling, leak detection, and seismic evaluation systems.

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com

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