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Vicki Knott recaps API Pipeline Control Room and Cybernetics Conference 2024

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World Pipelines,

Vicki Knott, P.Eng, CEO and Co-Founder at CruxOCM, offers a recap of the American Petroleum Institute Pipeline Control Room and Cybernetics Conference 2024:

Vicki Knott recaps API Pipeline Control Room and Cybernetics Conference 2024

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was formed in 1919. As with any organisation in the Western world whose premise is the petroleum industry, API has been faced with opposition. The withdrawal of BP and Shell in 2021 during the claim of peak oil was a notable change for myself personally where I worried that an organisation as important as American Petroleum Institute (API) was going to be cancelled in popular media.

Given that 83% of the world’s energy consumption is still petroleum-based and growing, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is an extraordinarily important and relevant organisation. Compounded further by the USA's position as an energy superpower globally, API is an organisation that should never be vilified but celebrated. American Petroleum Institute (API) sets the direction for a high standard of safety in the energy industry globally. When it comes to working towards a successful and just energy evolution, it seems to be becoming popular rhetoric that the best folks to lead this evolution/transition are the folks currently in the energy industry. We already have the best minds in the world leading the energy transition from the inside out, increasing the efficiency of our operations every day. This is something API has recognised and in my opinion their actions exemplify the collaboration needed to further the energy evolution in a successful and just way.

Opening the conference, David Murk presented the Pipeline Operations Safety Awards to the small, medium, and large pipeline operators. Not many industries celebrate their commitment to public safety. More probably should. The awards recognise the independent steps that companies take to go above and beyond when it comes to the health and safety of all. Below are the winners of the Pipeline Safety Awards:

  • The Small Operator Winner, MIPC, led the industry for the second year in a row by promoting a culture of safety excellence, effective risk management, community engagement, innovative technology, and environmental stewardship.
  • The Medium Operator Winner, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company LLC, was recognised as a leader in fostering a safety culture across the organisation and for its commitment to ongoing improvement in pipeline safety.
  • The Large Operator Winner, Marathon Pipeline, distinguished itself in 2023 for proactive, ongoing implementation of API Recommended Practice 1173, Pipeline Safety Management Systems, and by developing a new and revolutionary safety leadership course.

American Petroleum Institute (API) is a steward of safety in our industry. If I were to choose who should lead the transition to new energy sources and make them accessible to the public, my ideal group would prioritise safety as a fundamental part of their culture. This commitment to safety is exactly what the American Petroleum Institute (API) promotes in the oil and gas industry.

The opening keynote was by Geoffrey Cann – speaker, author, and longtime energy industry worker. He was an excellent selection for the audience who understand the criticality of their industry and are eager to learn. His focus in the talk was our love/hate relationship with data. We can gain unique insights, but as is all too common in oil and gas, data mining is not easy. People do not know the correct queries to use in PI Process Book. Additionally, some may not understand this because they do not have experience with a data historian. Real-time access to data in oil and gas midstream – beyond the control room – is not always readily available to executives and engineers whose jobs are to gain business insights and make informed decisions. Geoffrey elegantly pointed this out with fantastic visuals, entertaining punch lines and a quick appearance of Taylor Swift (my favourite).

The conference offers professional development sessions focused on ensuring the safety and sustainability of the global energy supply. As with any industry that has been around a while, some of us have spent our entire careers in oil and gas midstream. With Geoffrey's diverse background, he could easily translate the importance of data into a digestible format for the audience.

Cyber security was a highly discussed topic in this trusted forum where oil and gas white and blue-collar workers come together to share, intimately, their operational challenges so that they can learn from each other to ensure the industry's longevity. While listening to the second keynote by Scott White, I caught myself becoming bored with the content, and I had to think about why. It was because I had seen it multiple times due to our company, CruxOCM, having to be ISO 27001 and SOC2 certified, which applies to software companies but not oil and gas midstream companies as far as I am aware. They should be, though—something to think about. My becoming bored had nothing to do with the quality of the content of course, Scott packed an extremely educational session into a brief time window. His ability to distil down how and why cyberattacks happen and simple rules of thumb to mitigate, provided exceptional value from a professional development standpoint for the audience. The audience being the folks in the hot seat, operating the pipelines that power our economy – our control room operators.

Control room operators, the primary focus of these sessions, are in the hot seat daily. API holding sessions for on-the-ground personnel is a solid testament to the organisation's goals. It's not another group of executives who are touting the latest energy transition trend, all while they have never set foot into a control room or spent significant time in operations, which seems to ultimately lead to squandered shareholder value and ‘greenwashing’ at those levels of the organisation. Not to say we aren't making progress; trial and error is still progress. More progress can be made, and API has done an excellent job recognising this and empowering existing energy industry control room operators to drive that progress.

Another focus of this year's API Pipeline Control Room and Cybernetics Conference was innovation. We at CruxOCM were fortunate to sponsor, exhibit, and speak at the event.

Feeling ever so grateful, API highlighted CruxOCM for our work with our Fortune 100 client to increase pipeline volumetric throughput by 1 - 4% with our pipeBOT™ and maxOPT™ products. maxOPT calculates the actual hydraulic max – or bottleneck location in real-time based on the real-time batch line-up and elevation profile determining the optimal pressure set points; they are sent to pipeBOT, which then executes them in a time series fashion to ensure that the pipeline operates at its hydraulic maximum while staying within hydraulic constraints. This enables an ‘adaptive cruise control’ experience for the pipeline operator compared to manual operation. The additional volumetric throughput is accompanied by a reduction in command clicks (or mouse clicks) on the SCADA screen to change set points and turn on/off pumps by over 90%, further increasing the safety of pipeline operations.

Imagine the difference between manually piloting a plane for a gruelling 12-hour flight and engaging ‘auto-pilot’. This is what maxOPT and pipeBOT technology do for pipeline control room operators. It provides them with an additional layer of safety and automation to ensure they are alert and capable in abnormal conditions. Being a pipeline control room operator means constantly being under pressure; it's crucial to implement improved tools to ensure the ongoing safety of our pipeline systems for future generations.

American Petroleum Institute (API) sets a global standard in safety, collaboration, and innovation, as can be seen from the inside out of our local industry. The USA is the largest, safest, and most secure energy producer in the world and will continue to maintain that status with the American Petroleum Institute at the helm.



Read the latest issue of World Pipelines magazine for pipeline news, project stories, industry insight and technical articles.

World Pipelines’ June 2024 issue

The June 2024 issue of World Pipelines includes a keynote section on hydrogen pipeline transport, in which Contributing Editor Gordon Cope offers a broad look at the global hydrogen pipeline market, and Atmos International discusses modelling pure hydrogen pipelines. Also in the issue: technical articles on subsea survey, pigging tool performance, HDD operations for the Trans Mountain Expansion project, and more.

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