Managing Distribution in Refined Products Pipelines Using Discrete-Event Simulation

Managing Distribution in Refined Products Pipelines Using Discrete-Event Simulation

M. Fernanda Gleizes (INTEC (CONICET-UNL), Argentina), Germán Herrero (INTEC (CONICET-UNL), Argentina), Diego C. Cafaro (INTEC (CONICET-UNL), Argentina), Carlos A. Méndez (INTEC (CONICET-UNL), Argentina) and Jaime Cerdá (INTEC (CONICET-UNL), Argentina)
DOI: 10.4018/jisscm.2012010104
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The management of oil-product pipelines represents a critical task in the daily operation of petroleum supply chains. Efficient computational tools are needed to schedule pipeline operations in a reliable and cost-effective manner. This work presents a novel discrete event simulation system for the detailed scheduling of a multiproduct pipeline consisting of a sequence of pipes that connects a single input station to several receiving terminals. The pipeline is modeled as a non-traditional multi-server queuing system involving a number of servers at every pipe end that perform their tasks in a synchronized manner. By using alternative priority rules, the model decides which server should dispatch the entity waiting for service to the associated depot. Also, the model deals with the timely fulfillment of terminal demands and the system response to unexpected events. In combination with optimization tools, the proposed simulation technique permits to easily manage real-world pipelines operations with low computational effort.
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Pipeline management plays a key role in the petroleum business. Refined products pipelines are regarded as the most reliable and cost-efficient way to transport large amounts of liquid fuels over long distances. In contrast to other transportation modes, pipelines can operate continuously with almost no interruptions despite bad weather conditions. Furthermore, they have an important edge on environmental and safety issues. Pipelines transport a variety of oil derivatives in successive batches and operate in two different ways: segregated or fungible mode. Segregated products are branded or blend stock materials destined for some specific client so that the same batch that is received for shipment in the origin is delivered to the client. Moreover, fungible batches consist of generic products fulfilling standard specifications. Shippers will receive a batch containing an equivalent product featuring the same specifications, but may not be the original lot they provide at the origin.

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