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What'sBest! Routes Gas

Stone &Webster Management Consultants, Inc. have developed a Gas Nominations Model, a new optimization model for use in the natural gas industry. Now that distributors are required to transport their own gas through pipelines, rather than purchase it at their city gate as they had for decades, a host of new obligations have been thrust upon them. The model helps gas distribution companies to perform the intricate pipeline balancing required on a daily basis in the developing deregulation environment.

The model first forecasts daily gas requirements for each of the demand centers. Next, it analyzes all of the distributor's supplies. It then selects the best mix of pipeline receipt and delivery points which will ensure meeting demand center requirements at minimum supply and transportation cost, with minimum risk of imbalance and penalties.

The heart of the optimization model is LINDO Systems' What'sBest! software. The model is based in a Windows environment and it's the first time Stone &Webster has introduced Excel into its models. The Excel/What'sBest! combination was chosen for its outstanding user-friendliness in customized input screens, dialogue box selection controls, and advanced optimization features.

Although the package is well suited to the new deregulated market in the US, it was originally developed for the largest gas distribution company in Argentina. "The model is readily applicable to any country with deregulated industry structure, with the US and Argentina being ideal candidate. To appreciate the type of assistance the model lends to the Argentina distributor, just consider the magnitude of the effort that was formerly performed manually," says Ed McGee, Stone &Webster's project leader.

Over two hundred receipt and delivery points on two pipelines are used each day. Any pipeline imbalances are subject to penalties which increase geometrically with the size of the immbalance. "This kind of numerical task is ready-made for computer assistance, and in particular, for formal optimization procedured," says Mr. McGee.

Stone &Webster has been supplying optimization models for gas distribution companies in the US, Canada, Brazil, Oman, and Europe for over ten years. These models have advanced with technology. They started with the first version of Lotus and LINDO Systems' VINO solver, and have now arrived at the Excel/What'sBest! combination.

Stone &Webster Management Consultants offers consulting services to both gas distribution companies and electric utilities.

For more information on What'sBest!, see our products pages. You can also download a trial version from the download page or order a version directly from our order page.