Managing the Flow
How the Operations Center Controls Our Vast Underground Network
Transporting crude oil and refined products across a network of more than 6,000 miles of pipeline in more than 50 systems is certainly not an easy task, but for the Marathon Pipe Line LLC (MPL) Operations Center in Findlay, Ohio, it is just another day in the office. What does it take to keep this vast underground network running smoothly? Dedicated and well-trained professionals who are prepared for anything and have a laser focus on safe and reliable transportation.
In total, the 71 Operation Center (OC) analysts embrace this responsibility. Their objective: safe and reliable pipeline operations. Each day, the OC remotely controls and monitors the transportation of over 2.8 million barrels of crude oil and refined products using a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) operating system. The eight operating consoles give analysts the ability to operate pumps, valves and other equipment through satellite-based communications in real-time.
Pipeline transportation is continuous, which is why the OC operates on a demanding 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year schedule. To accommodate this schedule, OC personnel work a rotating schedule of seven days in a 14-day period, with four weeks on a 12-hour day shift, then four weeks on a 12-hour night shift. “Working nights, weekends, and holidays is very difficult and requires sacrifice,” said Operations Center Supervisor Justin Stiles. “MPL appreciates the effort exerted by these employees to serve the company so well through a demanding schedule to perform this critical role.”
MPL takes a unique approach to staffing the OC by making it an entry-level position into the company. “Many of our industry peers use their operations centers as final destinations for employees,” said Stiles. “We attract and hire many college graduates each year, as well as many experienced professionals. This allows talented individuals to begin their careers with the OC, where they learn to operate our pipeline network.” Stiles notes that this knowledge of the company’s logistics system sets them up for long careers in the OC and allows them to choose many other career paths within MPL and Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC).
Looking forward into the future, the OC is preparing for growth. They already have plans in place to hire many new analysts and are working on adding an additional console this year. MPL is also transitioning to a new SCADA operating system, which will be implemented in 2016, ahead of the completion of the brand new Operations Center in the new MPLX building, currently under construction in Findlay, Ohio. The new center will have more than double the room, allowing the OC to expand up to 20 consoles.
For Stiles and the rest of the OC team, the collaborative nature of work in the OC brings with it pride in a job well done. “We work with many talented employees across the company, from the MPL operating areas to our terminal and refining locations,” he said. “It is rewarding to be part of an operations team that spans across the entire company.”
About Marathon Pipe Line LLC
MPL operates one of the largest petroleum pipeline systems in the United States, based on total volume delivered. MPL operates approximately 6,000 miles of pipeline in 14 states. These pipelines range from 4 inches to 40 inches in diameter. MPL transports crude oil, refined petroleum products and refinery feedstocks to and from terminals, refineries and other pipelines. MPL safely controls the movement and delivery of an average of 120 million gallons of crude oil and petroleum products daily through its pipelines. For further information on MPL, visit the company's website at http://www.marathonpipeline.com.