PCS Insights

Sharing Industry Knowledge, Lessons-Learned and Published Presentations to share our view of pertinent issues and how they affect Oil & Gas professionals and Operators.

10 Steps to Build Innovative Technology

Though every technology innovation is inherently unique, there are patterns in the innovation process. After many lessons learned in taking on the work of technology innovation for several years, we’ve distilled a 10-step process of getting from concept to meaningful product. I’ll reference work with Mobile Inspection FormsTM to give practical examples.
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4 Steps to Facilities Traceability

Traceability has become a familiar term for pipelines in recent years. Regulators expect the industry to produce Material Test Reports (MTRs) for every pipe segment, Non-Destructive Examination Reports (NDEs) for every weld as required in operator specifications, Welder Qualification Test Reports (WQRs) for every welder, and so on. A lot of effort is spent ensuring traceability on every foot of pipe, but what is expected at the facilities?
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5 More Myths About Pipeline Inspection

Back in October I shared 5 myths about pipeline inspection. Well there’s certainly more than 5 myths out there and due to the overwhelming response to those myths I’m going to keep going. Here are 5 more myths but please remember – I am just sharing my experiences. Your experiences may be different from mine. If they are please share with everyone who is reading these Myths, you never know, together our shared experiences may help someone who is reading and following these conversations.
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5 Myths About Pipeline Inspection

I have had the good fortune to see what good inspection can do for a project and also what happens after bad inspection of a project. Below are some “myths” I have encountered during my career and what I now believe to be the reality.

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5 Regulatory Considerations for 2016

Last year (2015) was a busy year for regulatory and environmental issues. 2016 will bring final action (or inaction) on some of these items. Below find a few national and regional hot topic items and their status.

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5 Tips for Scalable Mobile Data Collection

Data is more important than ever, with some even calling it the new oil. Like oil, it is not something that is readily available and useable. It needs to be found, drilled, and refined before we can productively use its insights. Today, the power gained from your data is proportional to the size and quality of your data sets. A unique challenge for energy infrastructure construction is providing real value from the large volumes of data produced by inspection teams. Having worked in field data collection for years and managed tens of millions of data points, we want to share our insights for those ready to extract value from their field inspections at a meaningful scale.
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7 Lessons We Learned in 2016

As we look ahead to 2017, several PCS subject matter experts reflect on the changes we have seen this past year and their impacts on the future.
1. Fossil Fuels Are Here to Stay
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An Alliance for the Future

A national and world treasure, the Louisiana coastal wetlands are in a continued state of deterioration; it is critical that large meaningful restoration and preservation efforts be developed and implemented in a timely manner. Why should the oil and gas industry be concerned? What is truly at risk?
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Avoiding Regulatory Delays Through Preparedness & Traceability

Utilize traceability personnel with multiple years of traceability experience on major pipeline construction projects. Successfully mitigating delays and down-time in all capital pipeline projects demand executing a complete Traceability and Compliance plan with advanced resources, an experienced team, and the cooperation between all members of the project team.
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Changes to the Keys of Technology Innovation

The Oil & Gas industry has gone through a great period of innovations: hydraulic fracking, horizontal-directional drilling (HDD), 3D/4D seismology just to name a few. Despite these innovations, the industry tends to lag in adopting technologies that have greatly improved the bottom line of other industries. Oil and gas innovations have been governed by homegrown, tangible outcomes and economics. In a big data world, it is market pressures and a new generation of workers that are causing an industry shift towards leveraging software to make processes more efficient and perhaps establish competitive advantages. As this shift occurs, we need to understand and appreciate the state of digital innovation’s challenges and opportunities as experienced by other industries.
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Clean Water Act Final Rule

On June 29, 2015, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published the final rule purportedly clarifying the scope of the Federal Government’s jurisdiction over wetlands and waters under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The new CWA rule is scheduled to take effect on August 28, 2015. This new CWA rule attempts to clarify the scope by defining adjacency, tributary, and when seemingly isolated wetlands are to be considered in a significant nexus analysis.
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Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits Updates

The COE has published the anticipated updates to the Nationwide Permits (NWP) set to expire March 18, 2017. The 2017 NWP updates were published June 1, 2016. The 60-day public comment period ends August 1, 2016.
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Deep Jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers

“What? I don’t need a Corps of Engineers permit. The pipeline won’t be located in a shipping safety fairway or an anchorage”.

The disbelief of the project engineer was sincere, and the accompanying disruption to the project schedule because of Corps of Engineers permitting was clearly not welcome news. After some additional consultation, reality set in for the project engineer that a Corps of Engineers permit was required even though the pipeline was not located in a shipping fairway or anchorage.
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Design of CO2 Transmission Pipeline Systems

CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will play a key role in reducing CO2 emissions. The CCS process captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, and prevents it from entering the atmosphere. Widespread adoption of CCS will require pipelines to transport CO2 to locations where it can be stored and utilized for productive applications.

Hydraulics | how fluids move through pipelines

Anthropogenic CO2 sources contain impurities that cause dramatically different behavior in flow through a pipe (hydraulics) than pure CO2, whose thermodynamic properties are well known.
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Did a Manufacturer Falsify your Data?

Imagine yourself as a pipeline operator that has followed all the rules and regulations. Good For you! You’ve employed reputable engineers with proven experience that developed a comprehensive design basis. You’ve developed procurement procedures to confirm compliance with the design basis. You’ve implemented an inspection protocol that clearly defines inspector certification and details specific roles and responsibilities. You’ve enacted a sophisticated data tracking system with supporting documentation down to the joint level and conducted a gap analysis to assure all various phases are aligned. Your project has successfully passed multiple audits by PHMSA. Now, you can sleep comfortably at night. What could possibly go wrong?
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Do You Need a 408 Review?

Civil works projects are public undertakings, done to support public welfare and funded by taxpayer dollars.Therefore, when direct alterations, or indirect actions that may result in alterations, to civil works projects are contemplated by the USACE or another entity, public or private, the USACE is required by Congress to analyze if the proposed activity could adversely alter the function of the civil works project. If an adverse alteration could occur that would impair the function of a civil works project, the activity proponent must make changes to its activity to significantly reduce or eliminate adverse aspects. The statute requiring this analysis by the USACE is codified at Title 33 of the United States Code at Section 408, hence the shorthand phrase for the analysis, “408 Review”. Successful 408 Review is a threshold approval, and the USACE cannot issue a permit, such as a Section 10 permit for structures in navigable waters or a Section 404 permit for dredge and fill activities, or approve any other permission, such as a real estate outgrant to occupy or use USACE lands, until a 408 Review is completed and an alteration approved.
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Engineer Meets GIS Specialist

It’s no secret that collaboration breeds innovation.

A great idea remains an idea unless it has people behind it who can contribute their expertise to making it a reality. Wilbur and Orville Wright worked together to create the first fixed-wing aircraft, revolutionizing aviation. Marie Curie, with the support of her husband Pierre, developed the theory of radioactivity, discovered two elements, and was awarded two Nobel Prizes. More recently, Matt Clickner and Justin Driver have collaborated to develop faster, more accurate ways to perform pipeline design engineering tasks and analyses.

I sat down with them at the PCS office in Atlanta to discuss their origin stories, their trailblazing work in GIS & engineering, and the Oscars speeches they’ve always wanted to give.
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Galveston Corps to Reassess Policies and Procedures for Decommissioning of Pipelines in Place

The Galveston District, COE Regulatory Division, issued a memorandum, effective March 30, 2016, which rescinded the District’s 2001 Pipeline Abandonment Policy. This 2001 policy contained special condition language requiring removal and restoration of pipelines unless the permit holder could demonstrate an overwhelming reason for decommissioning in place.
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Gathering Operators, Have You Met PHMSA?

NPRM proposes to change requirements for currently unregulated natural gas gathering systems. The rule will bring a significant number of natural gas gathering pipelines further under the watch of PHMSA, of which may have never been regulated by 49 CFR 192. [Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0023]
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GoFormz Announces Platform as a Service Agreement with PCS

Metairie, LA, August 11, 2016 – GoFormz, the leading mobile forms platform, today announced a Platform as a Service partnership agreement with Project Consulting Services, Inc. (PCS), a provider of consulting and engineering solutions for energy infrastructure.
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Integrity Management Requirements to Limit Operator Interpretation & Flexibility

D.O.T. PHMSA is raising condemning allegations that operators do not know or have the knowledge or experience with their pipeline systems, as suggested through their (& other NTSB, GAO, IG) investigations of integrity management practices. Thus, seeking to expand on the Integrity Management Rules for both Gas (49 CFR 192.900) & Hazardous Liquids (49 CFR 195.452) to enforce operational assurance & constrict current flexibility in: MAOP verification, documentation, “Grandfathered” pipelines, leak detection, remote valves and line piggability.
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Lesser Prairie Chicken Update

PCS’ July 2016 Insights Article noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) from the threatened and endangered species list.

Fast-forward to September 2016.
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Louisiana to Lift Oyster Moratorium

With the recent passage of two bills by the Louisiana Legislature (HB #902 and HB #1130), the stage has been set to lift a 14 year moratorium on oyster leases and harvesting. The moratorium was put in affect in 2002, after jurors awarded 1.3 billion dollars in damages to oyster fisherman in their suit filed against the state of Louisiana for alleged damages to their leases as a result of the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project.
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New Financial Security Requirements for Offshore Operators

Since Kerr-McGee drilled the first well out of sight of land in 1947, the Ship Shoal Block 32 Field, oil and gas exploration and production has flourished in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). As the search for hydrocarbons moved to deeper waters, expenses associated with both exploration and development of operations increased significantly. Fast forward 69 years to 2016 and imagine the large number of wells, platforms, pipelines and other infrastructures that are now in some phase of decommissioning.
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Pipeline Stress 101

The world is in constant motion. Every day we rely on infrastructure to keep us safe as we accomplish our goals. In using the infrastructure, we are subjecting it to many stresses which it must be designed to handle. If you do not notice the pipelines around you, they are operating well. The gas stove will cook your food. The heat will kick on during winter. You can fill your tank at the gas station.

The reliability of this infrastructure is only accomplished by design that takes many factors of its use and environment into account. Pipelines must be designed to withstand many stresses while safely transporting hydrocarbons for many years. A single failure at any point in the pipeline will shut a large section of the system and markets down, possibly causing serious safety concerns and economic consequences to operators and the general consumer. So what exactly are these stresses that a pipeline needs to be designed to withstand? PCS Engineering gives a glimpse into pipe stress, one of the many factors that go into designing a pipeline.
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Preventing Fracture in CO2 Transmission Pipeline Systems

One of the consequences of the transportation of CO2 as a supercritical liquid is that it behaves as a high-vapor pressure liquid. This behavior has significant implications for the fracture control design of a CO2 pipeline. The requirements for the fracture control of the line pipe have been considered during the course of design of the pipeline system.
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The Managers of Change

At PCS, we don’t just embrace change – we manage it... I had the opportunity to sit down with four PCS colleagues who have been a part of PCS’ Management of Change (MOC) process. Each of them provided insights from their involvement in change management which have helped me appreciate the value of the MOC process in our industry.
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What Does Cholera Have to Do with Pipelines?

1854 was not a good year for Soho. It was a lower class neighborhood in London, plagued by crowding, bad sanitation, and a stench of historic proportions. In late August, panic set in as a particularly vicious strain of cholera blazed through the local population. In the first ten days, 500 people died. A basic primer on cholera: it is not fun, it is messy, and it can be highly contagious...
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What You (And I) Didn’t Know About Automating Pipeline Inspection Reporting

Automating the pipeline construction inspection process seems straight-forward: collect inspection data on a tablet device, upload it, and report the findings on a website. This is a typical mobile data collection scenario that’s been used across many industries for years. I thought I knew everything about the subject. I was wrong.
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