What is the Pipeline Open Data Standard?

Pipelines carry stuff from point A to point B

Whilst this maybe the most obvious sentence you've read in a while, it is also the basis for a huge amount of work dedicated to managing that journey.

The 'stuff' inside pipelines is usual extremely valuable, combustible, corrosive and / or harmful to humans and the environment alike.

Even a water pipe rupture can cause problems.

So monitoring and managing the infrastructure that carries these prized resources is critical.

That seemingly simple statement hides a vast challenge.

Firstly, the distances involved can be enormous and pipelines can travel through different terrains and temperatures, even different countries. The Druzhba (literal translation; 'friendship') pipeline carries oil over 4,000 kilometres from Russia to countries throughout Europe.

And for each metre of the journey there is information that must be recorded regularly, if managers are to be confident that they know how their pipeline is operating.

The Pipeline Open Data Standard or PODS database model was developed to meet this need.

Obviously, geography is at the heart of pipeline management, but pipelines have a specific geographic construct; they are linear.

That means that location is relative to somewhere behind or in front of the point of interest.

So the database that stores information needed to reflect this. And it is quite a list of information.

Just some of the data that pipeline managers need to reference include;

  • centerline location
  • pipeline materials and coatings
  • the Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP)
  • valves and pipeline components
  • cathodic protection facilities and inspection results
  • hydrotesting
  • operating conditions
  • physical inspection results
  • leak detection surveys
  • inline inspection (ILI) results
  • close-interval survey results
  • pump and compression equipment specifications
  • geographic boundaries
  • external records
  • risk analysis methods and results
  • regulatory reports

Storing data in this model, gives pipeline companies a common format for their data and allows them to interrogate and analyse these keys assets that carry such a valuable cargo.

Since each piece of data relates to somewhere on the pipeline, most pipeline companies use a Geographic Information System (GIS) software as their interrogation tool

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