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Leveraging digital innovation for pipelines

Digital can help pipeline operators maximize value through radical improvements in integrity, safety, compliance and operational efficiency


In the United States, more than US$80 billion is expected to be invested in petroleum infrastructure every year between 2014 and 2020. To achieve high growth in what is one of the world’s most intricate oil and gas pipeline networks, multiple issues need to be addressed, ranging from aging assets at increasing risk of failure and increasing regulation to a projected 50 percent natural attrition of the workforce.

To succeed in this environment, pipeline operators need to leverage emerging digital and other technologies to deliver significant performance improvements and maximize value across their networks. By leveraging the convergence of operations and information technology to implement virtual pipeline assets, the operators will realize “digital pipeline” with breakthrough improvements in integrity, safety, compliance and operational efficiency.


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Accenture defines the “digital pipeline” as the convergence of information in a cloud-based environment, where new technologies are constantly added to provide near real-time visibility into the condition and risk profile of assets as well as workforce enablement via remote collaboration tools.

The future will see deployment of several emerging technologies, such as:

  • Digital convergence of data

  • Big data analytics

  • Wearable computer devices

  • Industrial automation security for cyber threats

  • Wearable safety devices

  • Innovative leak detection tools

  • Ruggedized portable devices

  • Lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles


How these digital technologies are being deployed in everyday pipeline operations demonstrates the tremendous opportunities likely to arise out of the convergence of operations and information technologies to achieve:

A safer working environment: Using wearable safety devices and innovative leak detection tools facilitates better monitoring and improved risk mitigation

Reduced operating costs: Using advanced network modelling, automation of business functions and proactive maintenance techniques maximizes throughput, limit maintenance costs and save energy.

Expert knowledge retention: Using social collaboration tools helps instantly store, search and transfer skills, experience and knowledge.

By integrating leading-edge technologies with the people and processes—such as in the case of The Accenture Life Safety Solution or Taleris—pipeline operators can realize the full benefit of applying both information technology and operations technology, significantly increasing the efficiency, productiveness and safety of their networks.