By | May 31, 2022

Workplace productivity and safety are universal goals, and technology has certainly advanced our ability to achieve them. But when workers are beyond the reach of reliable broadband cellular networks, they lose access to the technology solutions that help keep them safe and productive. Pipeline operators know this issue well. And now they have a way to solve it.

Sphera’s Control of Work (CoW) for Pipelines provides a comprehensive solution with online/offline, easy-to-use mobile capabilities for the Pipeline Transportation industry, allowing operators to achieve better connectivity with their workers, increase productivity and improve safety and compliance. Drawing from extensive experience in pipeline transportation and operational risk management, Sphera‘s CoW for Pipelines helps pipeline operators manage maintenance crews and contractors, as well as the safety and effectiveness of their pipeline networks. This results in improved safety and reliability and serves as an important foundation of operational ESG.

Gaps in Connectivity Present Challenges

As of December 2020, there were at least 2,381 operational oil and gas pipelines running across more than 160 countries and covering roughly 1.18 million kilometers (733,000 miles). And while pipelines offer the safest transportation method for the inherently risky business of moving oil and gas, the pipeline transportation business faces many challenges.

Maintenance crews and contractors who work on pipelines are often spread across rural areas that have limited connectivity. Poor network access restricts communication with headquarters and between crews, which can cause project delays and increase risk. Productivity can also be compromised because standards and best practices are hard to enforce when communication is limited. And the remote nature of pipeline work and maintenance makes record keeping and reporting difficult. These scenarios translate into compliance issues.

The Importance of Operational ESG

The saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” does not apply to the oil and gas industry. Pipeline accidents threaten a pipeline operator’s human and physical assets, kill wildlife and inflict lasting damage on the environment, not to mention the operator’s reputation.

A 1994 pipeline leak in the Russian Federation’s Komi Republic dispersed roughly 100,000 tons of oil into surrounding soil and water. A 2004 gas pipeline accident in Ghiselenghein, Belgium caused over 20 fatalities and wounded more than 130 individuals. And a 2010 pipeline rupture in the U.S. state of Michigan released over one million gallons of oil into a tributary of the state’s Kalamazoo River. These examples draw attention to the risks of pipeline operations, but there are hundreds of incidents annually that don’t make the news.

As the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) notes, “Accidents on international pipelines endanger human lives and the environment, cause serious revenue losses and generate a climate of public hostility towards pipelines.”

The value of a solution that helps pipeline operators reduce the risk of accidents cannot be overstated. It can ultimately mean the difference between remaining competitive and closing the business.

Mitigate Risk with a Smart, Scalable Solution

Risk assessment details only serve their purpose if they’re followed and integrated with Permit to Work. Isolation procedures are hard to enforce if workers lose access to isolation plans. And paper permits to work—documented in triplicate—are last-century tools that don’t scale. Digital solutions help to resolve these issues, as long as they are consistently accessible. And therein lies the challenge.

Sphera’s CoW for Pipelines helps pipeline operators increase safety, reduce risk, and establish the foundation of operational ESG through:

  • Standardization and implementation of company policies into operational practice, with the ability to ensure that work is done at the right location via GPS tracking capabilities.
  • Integration of permits, isolations/LOTO and risk assessments to better manage dependencies and proactive SIMOPS for full visibility.
  • Managing activity with control in real time, not in permit duration.

Sphera’s Control of Work for Pipelines ensures that employees and contractors in the field have the information they need, when they need it. Information is logged when workers are offline and is automatically synchronized to operators when access to the internet is restored, making it easy for operators to ensure that proper safety procedures and standards are being followed.

Productivity on the Pipeline

Real-time data helps pipeline operators address issues before they become liabilities. It also allows for proactive and standardized execution of activities according to company policies, which leads to better outcomes. This is critical in distributed linear asset industries such as pipeline transportation.

Sphera’s Control of Work for Pipelines helps operators:

  • Harness the complexity and power of data to make better business decisions.​
  • Close the loop between Operations, Maintenance, Planning, Engineering & HSE to get more work done.
  • ​Reuse permit templates to streamline the permitting process.

The solution facilitates better information-sharing, decision-making and compliance. For example, because the solution enables the use of GPS tracking with permitting, it helps operators ensure that work is completed at the right location and at the right time. Productivity also improves when workers have better ways to share knowledge. Our solution lets workers view, execute and update activity details and status, all according to company-defined policies and procedures to ensure activities are done in the right way.

Consistently Achieve Compliance and Demonstrate Sound Governance

Pipeline operators are subject to complicated regulations issued by federal and regional governments, and it’s common for a single pipeline to fall under the jurisdiction of several government bodies. And while operators must adhere to regulations at all levels, they must also report their compliance and be ready to back up their reports with documentation.

Our Control of Work for Pipelines supports your compliance effort by providing:

  • Digital permits, which are available upon request.
  • Evidence of consistent operational practices that are built on standardized policies.
  • Digital documentation of all business operations with full audit trail.

Sphera’s solution offers capabilities that make it easier for pipeline operators to achieve compliance, and it provides the audit trail they need to back it up.

Finally, a Powerful Solution for Pipeline Operators

Pipelines are extensive, complicated networks that cross regional and national borders, and construction, maintenance and repair activities are typically carried out in remote environments where communication is restricted. Introduce combustible materials to the mix and you’ll find few work settings that present as many challenges.

At the same time, a greater focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance has brought increased scrutiny to risk management and directed an especially bright spotlight on the oil and gas industry.

Sphera’s Control of Work for Pipelines helps pipeline operators achieve compliance and enhance productivity while reducing risk in a way that no other solution can. Our solution enables:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Greater oversight
  • Enforcement of standards
  • Timely communication
  • Clear guidance in digital permits

In short, Sphera’s powerful mobile solution with online and offline capabilities delivers the most efficient and effective tool available today for safe, productive and compliant pipeline operations.

To learn more about Sphera’s Control of Work for Pipelines, please visit the brochure.

Increasing Safety, Connectivity and Productivity for your Operational ESG

Sphera’s powerful mobile solution with online and offline capabilities delivers the most efficient and effective tool available today for safe, productive and compliant pipeline operations.

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