Pipeline construction in the post-COVID-19 era: How technology can help make up for the lost time

The oil and gas market is no stranger to volatility. The changing needs of the world economy are known to cause sharp fluctuations in oil prices. However, it is for the first time that the ‘black gold’ has become a more risky investment than the highly-volatile and speculative asset Bitcoin. And we have a novel strain of coronavirus to blame for that.

More than 3.9 billion people, or half of the world’s population, are now under different degrees of lockdown restrictions imposed by their governments to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus illness, COVID-19.

This has resulted in a deep decrease in the consumption of petroleum products, leading to OPEC and IEA expressing concerns that developing countries could lose up to 85 per cent of oil and gas income this year. We have already seen how the Mediterranean and Latin American consignments were left stranded by China, even as the emerging oil and gas markets of Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, and Mexico witness the fallout from faltering energy consumption.

The situation is admittedly bleak now. But we must remember that all this is in the short-term.

The bigger picture after COVID-19 shutdown

Governments eying economic recovery are expected to step in stimulus packages, arguably giving corporates tangible negotiating power over state-owned entities and leading to final investment decisions (FIDs) for major LNG projects. Essentially, in the long-term, 2020 could prove fundamental in sowing the seeds of future gas demand.

This is especially true for a developing economy like India. The country’s largest gas utility, GAIL India, has planned a capex of Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 crore in laying pipelines, Rs 10,000 crore for petrochemical capacity expansion, and another Rs 40,000 crore for city gas distribution (CGD) business. With investment in infrastructure creation totalling Rs 1.05 lakh crore over the next five years, GAIL’s ambitions mirror the Indian Government’s push for greater use of environment-friendly fuel.

And let’s not forget that the incentive to build projects as quickly as possible to start earning a return on investment will rule supreme once things normalize. So, how can a pipeline construction company, which has been forced to halt production in the face of a global pandemic, advance its financial investments and speed-up construction to meet future demand once the COVID-19 public health crisis wanes?

Short answer: By using a construction management solution that revolutionizes communication, collaboration, and profitability in the field.

Mobile management app for Pipeline construction projects

FieldOn Construction Management solution offers complete mobile project management for construction. It simplifies digital data collection and analysis, acting as a bridge between field workers and the back office. Pipeline construction companies can accelerate field inspections and ensure that quality and safety are maintained across the project.

Designed to enhance work allocation, supervision, and efficiency, it can scan capture and collect multiple forms of data across the construction lifecycle – right from surveying and staking the construction area and digging the trenches to lowering the pipeline, valve installation, and pressure testing. All tasks can be assigned from the back office itself, enabling omnichannel data collection.

With images, videos, barcodes, signatures, and GPS location information allowing mobile-based tracking of activities like stringing, pipeline laying, welding, testing, crossings, etc., managers can create accurate, day-wise reports for each activity. The solution is even loaded with predefined industry standard templates for reports like pipe book, mainline welding, lowering, crossings, and HDD.

Let’s take weld and joint traceability, for example. By using the Construction Management solution, the construction manager can gain real-time visibility into weld traceability. The exact geo-coordinates of every single pipeline weld joint can be captured with pinpoint accuracy using a GNSS receiver, such as the Eos Arrow 100. The system also allows for integration with GPS devices like Trimble Arrow 100, Trimble, for capturing high accuracy coordinates of the Assets and location of work. Reports for assessing and rating for work done by Welders can be imparted based on the work completed.

That’s not all. The Construction Management solution is accompanied by web-based decision support and analytics dashboard that provides a comprehensive overview of the project, including the percentage level of completion. Stakeholders can visualize the entire constructed network on a map and execute approvals based on the data captured.

As a truly interoperable solution, the QCM Solution and dashboard can be integrated with any existing GIS, SAP, or enterprise system to support features like asset visualization and updates, crew tracking, geofencing, geotagging.

To sum up, oil and gas pipelines are critical infrastructure assets, essential for the continued prosperity of any region. While shutting of offices, restaurants, etc. because of the coronavirus pandemic may suppress gas demand in the near-term, a long-term strategic view of the market remains positive. Admittedly, pipeline companies will need to double down on construction activities without compromising on quality or safety.

An intuitive Construction Management solution that connects everyone from field workers to top-level managers can help pipeline construction firms ensure that they not only increase their productivity but also meet all environmental, health, and safety standards.

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About FieldOn

FieldOn makes digital data collection and analysis simple & streamlined with built-in integration services that will automate processes and push data to other enterprise systems. Build smart forms that enhance work allocation, supervision, and efficiency. Advanced data fields & GIS support systems make FieldOn accessible to varied industries. From your field workers to top-level managers, keep your workforce connected with seamless data collection & integration.

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