Do We Need A Hydrocarbon Smart Grid?

The Oil And Gas Information Technology Innovation Dilemma

The hydrocarbon logistics chain of natural gas and crude oil connects globally distributed exploration and production sites with industrial and private consumers via pipelines, tankers, rail cars, and trucks with massive intermediate buffering storage and conversion facilities (tank farms, refineries, gas plants); it is the lifeblood of our energy supply chain today and for the coming decades.


More than 75 million barrels of oil and 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas are produced, transported, and consumed all over the globe — every day. Along the complex transportation chain, these special bulk products, both liquids and gases, are transferred between the different modes of transportation, resulting in a number of challenges based on complex measurements of product volumes and masses:

  • Measurement accuracy. In an ideal world, we would always determine the mass of crude oil and natural gas at each measurement point; however, due to the large quantities involved, weighing is possible only at the very end of the logistics chain. Consequently, we have to live with measurement data that typically carries an uncertainty of 0.1% to 0.5 %, depending on the measurement devices’ intrinsic accuracy.
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Product Management Without Portfolio Management Has Limited Value

Practically everyone who visits the Vatican stops to take a picture of the Swiss Guards. Ditto for the Queen's Guard at Windsor Castle, the Royal Life Guards at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, and the Evzones at Greece's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Those multicolored uniforms may not have a place on the modern battlefield, where camouflage is far more important than panache, but they do attract the tourists.

If, by this measure, these ceremonial units have some value (albeit none militarily), why not have more of them? You could post the newly created Sartorial Guard at tourist locations that haven't been attracting enough foot traffic lately. And who knows, they might even attract more recruits into the real military. (Though I'm not sure what the career path is once you've held the rank of Feldweibel in the Swiss Guards.)

Obviously, I'm not being serious. Once you start manufacturing new ceremonial units, you cheapen the brand. You don't need more than one as a "loss leader" in the military, and there's no need to get the people who actually fight up in arms. Figuratively, that is.

Here's why managing a portfolio is critical for managing products. It wouldn't be hard to find some enterprising "champion" for a new Swiss Guards-ish unit who was willing to sew the uniforms and stand around looking fierce. (We call them re-enactors, and we don't put them on the public payroll.) No matter how much attention they attract, they'll still be a failure from a national perspective.

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