Accenture helps Gasunie with new gas transport management system

11 July 2019 5 min. read

Dutch gas infrastructure company Gasunie has launched a new IT system which better helps the company manage the transportation of natural gas, hydrogen and green gas from biomass across its gas grid.

“While our old system served us well for more than two decades, the new solution provides our operators with better tools and more timely information to ensure better decision-making and ultimately a safer and more-secure gas network,” explained Jeroen Zanting, director for Asset Management in Gasunie’s Transport Services division. 

Once natural gas is extracted, it must be transported to be processed, stored, and then finally delivered to the end consumer. In the Netherlands, nearly all of the natural gas is extracted in Groningen, which is according to scientists the natural gas field in Europe and the tenth-largest in the world. After its discovery in 1959, the Groningen gas field started production in 1963 and produced around 100 billion cubic meters (3.57 trillion cubic feet) per year in the first decade. In recent years production has been winded down on the back of political pressure and demonstrations in the region following several (gas extraction induced) earthquakes.

Today, the field produces around 24 billion cubic meters per year, a number which will remain steady for the coming five years, according to plans from the current Mark Rutte led government. The majority of this gas is transported via pipelines, with compressor stations placed along the pipeline across the country to keep the gas pressurised. Gasunie also facilitates the export of gas; in this case gas is transported to a gas liquefaction plant, where gas is liquefied – liquid natural gas (LNG) shipping is preferred for international transport because in a liquid form, natural gas takes up less volume, making it easier for shipment and storage.

Accenture helps Gasunie with new gas transport management system

Gasunies’s new system serves as the brain of this network. The so-called gas transport management system (GTMS), which is based on software from French multinational Schneider Electric, enables the monitoring and control of the Dutch gas grid. The system facilitates all communication with assets and equipment, generating insights and notifications based on the data gathered and providing operators with the information needed to efficiently operate the gas grid from the central control room in Groningen. Maintenance personnel on the road are meanwhile provided with accurate information at the right time, 24 hours a day.

The GTMS also provides Gasunie with real-time insights into the high-pressure gas grid, demand forecasting as far ahead as 48 hours, and simulation of gas flow and composition — which together will enable Gasunie to enhance its operational capabilities and conduct maintenance more efficiently. The GTMS is integrated with Gasunie’s geographical information system, using a single source for asset data (including pipelines, compressors and valves), to create a network model of the system as a digital twin of the physical network.

In partnership with Accenture

Building on a strategic partnership that goes back to 2010, the design, implementation and roll-out of the new GTMS was delivered in conjunction with Accenture. The firm’s IT consultants supported the design, build and deployment of the digital system, which included implementing the functional architecture and applications and migrating data from the prior system. The firm’s consultants provided organisational change management services to help prepare, train and support user groups — including dispatchers and data and IT maintenance teams — for the system implementation.

Commenting on the collaboration with the consulting firm, Eddie Lycklama à Nijeholt, program manager for control room replacement at Gasunie, said: “Accenture has played a crucial role in delivering this complex project on time and on budget, using its industry knowledge and digital capabilities.”

“This new system provides a state-of-the-art platform that is flexible and equips us well for the future.”

Roy Ikink, a managing director at Accenture in the Netherlands, said that he is proud of the result. “This project will help optimise gas transport in the Netherlands, providing more insight into the state of the Dutch gas grid. Moreover, the new system is cheaper and easier to maintain on a daily basis, and the system’s flexibility will enable Gasunie to easily respond to any future changes required.” 

Globally, Accenture is one of the leading consultancies in the energy transmission and transportation sector. Last year the company for instance helped Shaanxi Electric, which constructs and operates electric power grids in China’s Shaanxi province, launch a new digital asset management system that collects and gives access to all asset life cycle information in a single tool, enabling it to glean predictive insights for improved real-time decision making. And in the US, Accenture recently was tapped by Oklahoma’s largest electricity provider to deliver a seven-year smart-grid programme.

In the Netherlands, in a poll of executives and managers, Accenture was last year named one of the county’s top 10 consulting firms.