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Remote Management of a Natural Gas Pipeline

A natural gas company wanted to remotely control compressor stations that are located alongside a pipeline. Wiring costs can be high and wires get accidentally cutted, thus the solution had to be wireless. A major natural gas transportation and distribution company in Thailand wanted to have better control over their operations.

The offshore and onshore transmission lines in their vast natural gas pipeline network are several thousands of kilometers in length. In addition, the distribution lines branch out from the transmission lines to serve various industrial users.

What is a compressor station?

An onshore gas pipeline is divided into smaller sections by so called compressor stations. It is natural to have small pressure differences along the pipeline. Compressor stations are instruments used for monitoring and compensating these inevitable but small pressure differences. A compressor station can also detect whether a leakage in the pipeline has occured. For billing purposes, a compressor station has gauges that measure how much a particular industrial customer has consumed gas.

Wireless beats wireline

A Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) interfaces with the electronics at a compressor station. An RTU, in turn, can be connected to a centralized SCADA control center via its serial data interface. The natural gas company was looking for a reliable wireless connectivity solution as wiring costs can be high and wires can get accidentally cut. Not to mention high monthly communication costs.

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