Case Studies

Development and Outlook of Pipeline Transportation Technology in China under Energy Security Strategy(Part 2)

2.3 Digital Transformation Establishes New Goals for High-quality Development of the Pipeline Industry

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing are triggering a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation. In December 2018, the Central Economic Work Conference first proposed the construction of new infrastructure. In May 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the "Digital Transformation Partnership Action" initiative, proposing to accelerate the construction of digital enterprises, build digital industrial chains, and cultivate digital ecosystems. The cross integration of digitization and industrialization will become an important way for the high-quality development of the energy industry, which will inevitably have a profound impact on the pipeline industry. The pipeline industry urgently needs to accelerate digital transformation, adapt to the changes in informatization, digitization, and intelligence, promote the deep integration of traditional pipeline technologies with artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, 5G communication, etc., consolidate and expand China's first mover advantage in the construction of "intelligent pipelines and smart pipelines", and fully promote the construction of a smart interconnected large pipeline network, opening up new directions and establishing new goals for pipeline technology progress with higher level business needs and broader business expansion.


2.4 "Zero Tolerance" in Safety Production Poses New Challenges to Pipeline Operation Guarantee

Intrinsic safety and public safety are the foundation and cornerstone of the pipeline industry's survival. We must prioritize safety production and never prioritize development over safety. It is particularly important to fully ensure the safe and reliable production and sustained high-quality development of high-risk industries such as petroleum and chemical industry, in response to the major energy needs of the country and the safety of people's lives and property. In recent years, although the risk prevention and control capabilities of pipelines have greatly improved, malignant accidents still occur from time to time, and the safe and efficient operation of oil and gas pipelines faces many challenges. With the large-scale laying of high-grade, large-diameter, and high-pressure pipelines, as well as the gradual construction of a "national network", the pipeline network system is becoming more complex and open, inevitably leading to more energy and information flow interaction with the outside world and coupling with the environment. Multiple systems and units work, and it is necessary to concentrate efforts on solving the essential safety and public safety issues centered on pipeline assets, with control failure and disaster prevention as the foundation, promoting the further localization of key pipeline materials and equipment and the autonomy of core technologies, and effectively ensuring the security of national energy supply.


2.5 Energy Conservation Priority Policy Anchors New Requirements for Efficient Utilization of Pipeline Energy

"Energy conservation priority" is the top priority in the development of energy science, covering various links of energy production, processing, transportation, and consumption, and involving various fields of economy and society as a complex system engineering. The pipeline industry should play a positive role in promoting efficient energy utilization by combining its own industrial foundation and technological advantages. With the accelerated promotion of the "national network", the contradiction between the overall layout and storage and transportation capacity of China's oil and gas pipeline network system and the spatiotemporal precise distribution and optimized operation of multiple users and demands upstream and downstream is becoming increasingly prominent. The efficient utilization of resources throughout the entire system and the guarantee of safe flow throughout time and space are the foundation of efficient transportation in the pipeline network. Therefore, while ensuring the safe operation of the pipeline network, it is necessary to solve key technical problems such as flow optimization, energy efficiency optimization, precise peak shaving, and reliability of the pipeline system, continuously enhance the level of cold energy utilization and residual pressure utilization, promote energy-saving transformation, and promote the energy efficiency improvement of oil and gas storage and transportation infrastructure.


3. Future Outlook

The new energy security strategy of "four revolutions and one cooperation" has driven profound changes in the energy consumption structure. The carbon neutral goal has accelerated the transformation of China's energy structure. The energy Internet has promoted the deep integration of oil and gas and renewable energy. At the same time, the fourth industrial revolution based on artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing has had a profound impact on the pipeline transportation industry, which will promote fundamental changes in pipeline materials, pipelines mediums, pipelines technology, and transportation modes. It is urgent to leverage the platform value and collaborative role of the pipeline industry, take the lead in planning and layout in low-carbon, new energy storage and transportation, unconventional transportation technologies, and carry out forward-looking research to achieve sustainable development.


3.1 Continuous Upgrading of Key Technologies for Oil and Gas Storage and Transportation

3.1.1 Failure Control Technology for Welds in High-grade Steel Pipelines

Cracking of circumferential welds in high-grade pipelines is the biggest challenge faced by the continuous promotion of the construction of high-grade large-diameter pipelines. There is a lack of successful application cases in detecting linear defects, stress, and material properties of circumferential welds both domestically and internationally. We should accelerate the research on the failure mechanism of high-grade pipelines, establish a pipeline failure database, carry out high-precision defect detection, stress-strain detection sensors and detection equipment research and development, tackle intelligent evaluation of detection signals, reverse inversion and defect adaptability evaluation technology, improve the level of pipeline inspection and evaluation technology and failure prevention and control capabilities, overcome the global problem of controlling the failure of circumferential welds in high-grade pipelines, and ensure the intrinsic safety of pipelines.

3.1.2 Large Scale Pipeline Network Simulation and Optimization Technology

With the acceleration of the formation of the "national network", it is urgent to carry out online simulation of large-scale complex oil and gas pipeline systems with multiple sources and sinks, as well as global optimization technology for all time operations. We need to develop industrial software suitable for online simulation and operation optimization of 10×104 km scale pipeline networks, and develop a comprehensive industrial simulation platform based on the China Oil and Gas Network Comprehensive Dispatch Digital Platform, which includes medium flow, asset management, emergency services, and market support, to improve the efficiency of pipeline operation, logistics service quality, and supply chain efficiency.


3.1.3 Flow Guarantee Technology for Easily Condensable and High Viscosity Crude Oil

The diversification of crude oil sources and the overall deterioration of domestic crude oil properties and liquidity pose new technological challenges to the safe and efficient transportation of crude oil pipelines. We should continue to strengthen the research and application of crude oil pipeline flow assurance technology, establish a crude oil flow safety and early warning data platform that includes oil properties and fluidity, pipeline environmental heat and heat transfer, equipment along the pipeline, and pipeline operation data, achieve all-weather monitoring, evaluation, and early warning of crude oil pipeline flow safety, and carry out in-depth technical research and development, including various flow assurance measures such as pour point depressants, drag reducers, electromagnetic pour point depressants, and viscosity reduction, to comprehensively ensure the safe and economic operation of crude oil pipelines.

3.1.4 Autonomous and Controllable Key Equipment

We will make every effort to promote domestic development of key equipment that still relies on imports, such as integrated electric drive compressors, low-temperature BOG compressors for LNG receiving stations, low-temperature valves, and gas storage chamber sonar. For equipment that has achieved complete localization of single machines but still relies on imported core components, key research and breakthroughs will be made, such as high-end components such as the turbine rotor, guide vanes, compressor blades, and combustion chamber of aviation modified gas driven compressor units. For domestically produced products that still have gaps with similar advanced foreign products, focus on conducting performance improvement research, such as improving the performance of domestically produced welding materials, compressor units, and key valves.


3.2 Pipeline Digital Transformation Technology

3.2.1 Ubiquitous Perception Technology

Oil and gas pipelines belong to open systems without factory boundaries, and safety hazards have characteristics such as spatiotemporal randomness, wide distribution, concealment, and catastrophic consequences. Safety warning and risk prevention are systematic technical challenges. The existing sensing technology for pipelines has insufficient accuracy, making it difficult to detect oil and gas micro leaks in a timely manner. The identification of environmental risks in the pipeline is relatively lagging behind, and there is still significant room for improvement in the accuracy of spatiotemporal random threat event warning. High reliability gas sensors, high-precision chromatography devices, high-precision coordinate mapping navigation units, material performance detection sensors, electromagnetic ultrasound and high-precision ultrasound detection sensors, trade handover energy metering, and other high-end sensor components for pipeline sensing still rely on imports. Therefore, in response to the complex and ever-changing storage environment, multiple safety operation hazards, and insufficient multi-source and precise perception methods, it is necessary to focus on the scene requirements of oil and gas product detection, line environment status, pipeline body defects, etc., and develop a series of multi parameter, high-precision, and highly reliable dedicated sensors to form a complete set of sensing systems for comprehensive perception of pipeline networks and accurate analysis of multi-source perception data, to ensure that the safety risks of oil and gas stations, line environment, and pipeline body are "known, preventable, and controllable", and to achieve the upgrading of pipeline network safety transportation, efficient operation optimization, and service value enhancement.


3.2.2 Digital Twin Technology

Research on the construction technology of pipeline digital twins that continuously synchronize with pipeline asset management data models and flow simulation models based on pipeline transportation business and technical requirements; Conquering key technologies in the development of digital twin information platforms, integrating and developing intelligent computing engines with simulation, evaluation, prediction and other functions; Establish a standardized system for the construction and application of pipeline digital twins, standardize various application and management processes of pipeline digital twins, meet the requirements of multi-scale and multi-dimensional pipeline system application scenarios, promote the digitization and virtualization of all elements of oil and gas pipeline networks, real-time and visualized all states, and collaborative and intelligent operation and management.


3.2.3 Smart Pipeline Network Technology

Focusing on the strategic goal of "Smart Interconnection Big Pipe Network", we will carry out technological breakthroughs in smart pipe network theory, line and station perception, big data analysis and application, pipe network knowledge system, smart pipe network standards, etc. We will break through key technical difficulties such as comprehensive perception of pipe networks, data mining and utilization, and intelligent comprehensive decision-making of pipe networks, and form a core technology and standard system for the construction and operation of smart pipe networks. We will coordinate the promotion of traditional and digital infrastructure for pipelines, establish a nationwide network of interconnected oil and gas flow, data flow, and information flow, and form a pipeline network infrastructure with ubiquitous perception and adaptive optimization capabilities; Build a digital pipeline network that accurately maps and grows together with the physical pipeline network, achieving digital information collaboration, perception control collaboration, and knowledge intelligence collaboration of pipeline infrastructure in both physical and virtual worlds. Gradually establish a digital, intelligent, and platform based management system with data and knowledge as the core, to achieve leapfrog development in pipeline safety and operational efficiency.