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Pipeline operations have changed radically in the past few years due to the increasing reliance on automated equipment. Although refineries have used automated stream analyzers for a number of years to control refinery processes, pipelines have not as yet exploited the use of automatic instruments to a great degree in their quality control programs. This paper discussed the present use of automated quality assurance instruments by pipelines with particular emphasis on high-volume systems transporting segregated products. In the past, pipelines have used automated test equipment almost exclusively to monitor product quality in their systems and have not relied on them for custody transfer testing. The general practice in custody transfer of products from refinery to pipeline is for the refiner to perform a full laboratory analysis on each batch of product and certify the product quality to the pipeline. The pipeline in turn performs sufficient test functions on each batch to assure itself that the product quality is not degraded between the refinery and the pipeline or while it is in the pipeline's own system. The pipeline also performs certain key tests before transfer of the products from its system to the final delivery point. This being the case, the argument is presented that automated stream analyzers are ideally suited for this type of testing, and, if reliable equipment is developed, consideration should be given to using such instruments for verification testing at custody transfer points. Assuming acceptance of automated test equipment is forthcoming, studies should be started now to determine acceptable test tolerances and standardization procedures for these units. The economics of using automated test equipment is discussed only briefly as the wide variation in pipeline sizes and operations requires that each system be considered on an individual basis.
automation, automated testing, transfer testing, analyzing
Mason, R. C.
Quality control engineer, Colonial Pipeline,