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Technology Drives Seamless Operations By V. S. Okhde, Director (Pipelines), Indian Oil Corporation Limited

India being a vast country with its multiple land-locked refineries, a wide network of pipelines becomes the paramount requirement of feeding crude oil to these refineries and petroleum products from refineries to consumption centres. Since 1964, IndianOil has been utilizing pipelines, which are the most economic, efficient and environment friendly mode of transportation thus helping in meeting the nation’s energy requirement.

IndianOil today has grown to become the industry leader in transportation of petroleum products and crude oil in India and holds a share of 52 percent downstream sector pipelines capacity in India. State-of-the-art technology has been used in IndianOil for efficient operations and maintenance of cross-country pipelines.

The entire supply of crude oil to IndianOil’s refineries is met through pipelines. IndianOil operates offshore crude oil receipt terminals at Vadinar on the west coast and Paradip on the east coast. These two offshore crude oil handling facilities, having five Single Point Mooring systems, can handle large quantities of imported crude oil brought through Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) to feed the refineries. In addition, IndianOil utilizes SPM System of APSEZ at Mundra Crude Oil, thus unloaded, and is further pumped through pipeline system for deliveries to refineries. High viscosity crude oil is blended with regular crude oil for transportation through pipelines. IndianOil transports over 40 million tonnes of crude oil every year through a vast pipeline network. 

IndianOil is well placed to provide seamless services in the entire spectrum of petroleum pipelines covering techno-economic feasibility studies, design and detailed engineering, project execution, operations and maintenance, consultancy services in augmentation and modernization, etc. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and application software expertise are also available including field services, maintenance and operational support. Tanker handling, transportation of petroleum product, quality control, pigging procedure development and analysis of pigging data, selection, testing and evaluation of drag reducers, operations and maintenance of tank farm and pump stations are other areas of expertise available with IndianOil’s Pipelines Division.

When it comes to pipeline business and IndianOil’s own operations - Information Technology (IT) plays a major role in optimising the process of transportation and distribution of hydrocarbon through pipelines. IndianOil is able to maximise optimisation of equipment running through various combinations of operations at central dispatch system at the master station of each of the pipelines. The Pipeline systems are equipped with dedicated communication system through Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) and SCADA for monitoring and control of pipeline operation round the clock from a central location. Leak detection systems are installed in all the pipelines to generate signals in case of any leak in the pipeline system.

Petroleum products like High Speed Diesel (HSD), Motor Spirit (MS), Superior Kerosene Oil (SKO), Naphtha and Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) are pumped in the same pipeline. With various products in the same pipeline some mixing is inevitable. Products pumped in the pipeline have quality cushion and thus the mixing does not have any impact on quality of the product that is delivered. With stringent product quality, IndianOil has made seamless integration into transportation of BS IV grade fuels.

IndianOil is following a robust Pipeline Integrity Management System comprising, use of high performance external coating for mitigation of external corrosion. In addition, impressed current Hype Cathodic Protection System is installed to protect the pipeline from external corrosion. The integrity of the external coating is also inspected before lowering the pipeline into the trench. The pipelines are then tested by subjecting them to mandatory hydrostatic test. Corrosion inhibitor chemicals are injected in pipeline for mitigating internal corrosion.

Current Attenuation Test (CAT), Direct Current Voltage Gradient (DCVG) surveys are conducted to test the coating performance and Close Interval Potential Survey (CIPS) to test cathodic protection system efficacy at predetermined intervals. Based on these survey results, suitable rectification measures are taken up to repair and refurbish damage to the external coating wherever identified.

Cleaning pigs are used to clean pipelines. Intelligent pigs are sophisticated tools that scan the entire length of the pipeline and store the data onboard. Once retrieved at the other end, this stored data is analysed to prepare a report on the health of the pipeline.

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   RNI No. WBENG/2008/27737
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