Midstream Oil and Gas Startup Secures Flow Control

Pinnacle Midstream is using Bedrock Automation’s open secure automation platform to control crude oil receipt and delivery points—preparing for easy future scaling as business grows.

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The transfer of oil and gas from point to point has become serious business, with tighter controls and more precision becoming paramount. Midstream service suppliers are stepping up their games to meet growing demand. Pinnacle Midstream, a young Houston-based supplier of storage and processing services, has turned to Bedrock Automation to help meet its control needs now and to plan for future scaling.

The Bedrock control system will serve as the automation platform for Pinnacle’s crude oil receipt and delivery points—coordinating the flow of product from partners, through Pinnacle’s processing facilities, and on to refiners and shippers. Pinnacle chose the Bedrock system for its scalability, ease of engineering, ruggedness, cost efficiencies and intrinsic cybersecurity.

“We are expanding to meet the growing need for midstream services and need a secure way to centralize control of flow amongst our facilities,” said Mike Hillerman, vice president of engineering and operations for Pinnacle. “The Bedrock system provides an economical solution in a small, easy-to-implement system that can coordinate edge control today while also scaling easily and economically to the full DCS functionality we expect to need in the future. We also liked the rugged Bedrock housing, which will resist the dust that gets into everything around here.”

Pinnacle was formed a couple years ago to meet the oil and gas industry’s need for efficient, secure midstream management. The company provides a suite of services, including measurement, storage, compression, treatment, processing and dehydration services to help partners ready products for market. Fast movement of product from production wells, through facilities and on to the market is key to profitability.

Meers Engineering, a system integrator based in Abilene, Tex., was implementing Inductive Automation’s Ignition SCADA platform for Pinnacle, and recommended the Bedrock system as a way to meet its pipeline control and safety needs today, and scale easily over time.

“The Bedrock system is very startup-friendly,” commented David Ibach, Meers Engineering principal. “It delivers performance surpassing all mainstream systems and can scale easily as the user’s business grows. It uses state-of-the-art electronics and is designed to work for many years. Its free IEC 61131-3 compliant engineering tools also saved a great deal of coding time during the installation and will continue to reduce maintenance costs for many years to come.”

The Pinnacle implementation today populates the Bedrock pinless backplane with 10 I/O modules, including 10-channel universal I/O modules and a five-channel Ethernet module. The universal I/O modules connect to the field computers, which control flow at each storage tank, and the Ethernet I/O connects with edge devices and applications to mine data for subsequent planning and operational improvement. The Ethernet modules can also poll radios on wireless sensors simultaneously and support Power over Ethernet (PoE), which simplifies installation further by eliminating the need to run additional wiring to some of the devices.

Bedrock control modules also integrate switching and other functionality usually relegated to external devices, further reducing wiring and installation costs. This also makes it very easy to scale up in backplane unit increments of five, 10 or 20.

With the first Bedrock system—which went online early this year—exceeding expectations—Pinnacle is evaluating additional deployments in the U.S. and potentially globally.

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