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COVID Promoting Digital Technologies Use — Virus Accelerates Oil Digitalisation. Review (Abridged)

Date of publication: 6 May 2020

Moscow, 6 May. INTERFAX.RU – The COVID-19 infection has led to many restrictions around the world, which made the majority of companies across various sectors of the economy face a difficult financial situation. Reduced demand for goods and services inevitably leads to lower incomes. Some companies have found a way out by going online, others are trying to reduce costs by keeping the production process uninterrupted. And as it turns out, you can also get some benefit from the "COVID" situation.

Thus, after it publicly reported loss in the first quarter and faced lowered financial quotes last week, BP stated that digitalisation could be considered the driving force behind efficiency improvement. BP intends to accelerate the relevant processes to ensure cost savings and create a solid long-term foundation. And BP is not alone – Russian companies have acquired a taste for this field too and regularly reported digital innovations in the month of self-isolation and remote work. Apparently, the virus had activated the relevant processes.

As Transneft Press Service informed Interfax, Transneft, which pumps about 80% of Russian "black gold", thanks to a high degree of automation of oil and petroleum products transportation processes, ensures that the operation of trunk pipelines under the conditions of anti-epidemiological restrictions is carried out under the standard protocol.

"Pumping stations are operated without human intervention, with the operator controlling the technological process and informing operational divisions of the need to perform repairs. Functioning of the main and auxiliary process equipment is ensured by the automation systems installed at onsite facilities," the monopoly specified.

Trunk pipelines are supervised from control centres receiving information from both pumping stations and pipelines. The centres are equipped with automated dispatching systems, which show the technological processes along the entire trunk pipeline.

This enables specialists to remotely control pump stations and valves at the pipelines. The Company underlined that in the case of an emergency, the automated dispatching system would ensure pipeline safety without the help of a dispatcher.

Full information on pipeline operations is also delivered to the central control centre of Transneft in Moscow. "The implementation of the pipeline system’s unified supervisory control system (USCS) has reached its final stage. The structure of control centres will be changed, the hardware and software platforms will be updated, and the level of automation will be further increased. The USCS implementation programme will further reduce the risks of emergency situations and allow for more efficient management of oil and petroleum products transportation. By the end of 2022, the Company will completely update and rebuild the supervisory control and data acquisition system of pipeline transport," the monopoly noted.

“At present, Transneft has no difficulties in applying new technologies and transferring personnel to remote work. The Company uses secure terminal access technologies to the corporate network to ensure convenient and effective interaction of employees who work remotely. In addition, secure video and telephone communication sessions are organised for teamwork of the Company's employees and external contractors with the use of corporate communications tools,” the Company`s representatives informed.

At the end of April, Transneft Western Siberia was the first among the Company's business units to commission the Unified Laboratory Information System (ULIS), which allows to fully automate the stages of collection, accounting, monitoring, analysis, exchange, reporting and storing of data on the quality of oil and petroleum products.

The system transmits information in real time to specialists of the custody transfer points of pumping stations to the Company; it also allowed to stop keeping paper logs to monitor shelf lives of laboratory reagents and solutions and, accordingly, to reduce the time spent by laboratory assistants on monitoring materials and equipment.

Transneft Baltic began testing a remote safety control system that can analyse the technical condition of operating facilities: collect data from control sensors, process information to form a conclusion on operating protocols, possible deviations and emergencies. It can also predict the risk of accidents and incidents and rank them according to the significance of their consequences for human safety.

Transneft Western Siberia, in turn, began operating a new software complex that allows to automate calculations for evaluation of trunk pipeline technical condition. Accurate determination of safe operating pressure is of crucial significance for reliable functioning of operating facilities of the Company such as trunk pipelines, tank farms and pumping stations.

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