Protecting oil and gas pipeline SCADA systems is critical.  Our VP of Engineering, Michael Stout, contributed an article to Pipeline & Gas Journal.  This blog focuses on assisting industry professionals—here are helpful excerpts with updated information.  This is a series in 2 parts:  

Part 1: The management of complex gas and oil pipeline systems demands constant, reliable system-wide control. Typically this is accomplished with system-wide monitoring and control using sophisticated System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) equipment. The remote sensors, related Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and client software are vital to the reliable supervision of product flow control, pipeline and manifold internal pressures, product measurement, etc. The location of remote SCADA PLCs and sensors are in some of the harshest environments on earth. Many are responsible for the monitoring and control of critical functions requiring absolute reliability. A reliable source of computer-grade primary and backup power is an essential element to assuring system reliability. Backup power is essential to maintain monitoring and control functions in addition to assuring the pipeline’s infrastructure and safety.


Without the SCADA systems continuous measurement and control, pumps and valves that control pressures within the pipeline and its manifolds could result in increased pressures potentially bursting the pipe causing costly hazmat spills and cleanups. Moreover, on steep slopes, check valves could remain open during a loss of power to pumps causing damage to pipes and valves on the downhill side. To further compound the problems, SCADA system PLCs are often sensitive to power pollution such as voltage spikes, sags, surges and common mode noise. These problems can result in unreliable PLC operation or failures. The solution to these problems is the addition of an on-line double- conversion uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Power Protection for Harsh Power Environments: The difference between a commercial-grade vs. industrial UPS The double-conversion on-line UPS technology, through its continuous regeneration of new AC power, provides the highest level of power conditioning and protection. On-line UPS technology is ideal for use as a combination high performance power conditioner and battery backup system. When used in a controlled temperature environment ranging from 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F), most domestically available on-line UPSs can meet pipeline usage requirements as most have been tested and approved for operation over this temperature range by a safety agency such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

However, in remote locations where SCADA monitoring equipment is located, the use of an industrial on-line UPS is required.  Many remote outdoor installations are situated in harsh power environments where power sensitive PLCs and on-line UPSs may be installed inside buildings without any climate control systems, or in protective NEMA-rated enclosures. Even though the on-line UPS is protected from the remaining elements, attempting to use an off-the-shelf UPS (commercial-grade) in these extreme temperature environments is a poor decision and often results in a UPS failure.

Next week: In part 2, the article focuses on how an industrial UPS solves power-related problems in oil and gas applications.