Natural Gas Scheduling

Natural gas companies are under pressure to deliver in today’s hyper-speed gas ecosystem. Between changing market conditions, demand fluctuations, and decarbonization efforts, moving gas effectively is more complicated than ever. To add even more complexity, North America is expected to be the leading LNG provider by 2023 — with 70 percent of the total volume expected to be exported. Large LNG plant demand will create additional logistics headaches and challenges for gas schedulers getting gas to the coasts. In the midst of these natural gas traffic jams, schedulers need to create near-perfect scheduling cadence to avoid penalties, cope with inevitable imbalances, and minimize transportation fuel and costs across pipelines.

The real struggle in scheduling operations isn’t necessarily coming from strategy or lack of risk mitigation plans. Many schedulers lack fundamental tools to help them access scheduling cuts, critical notices, and scheduled quantity data seamlessly and immediately. In a world where NAESB cycles run from 10 am to 10 pm, 365 days a year, dropping the ball on any key information will lead to not just headaches but real financial impacts.

Gas Schedulers and the Around-the-Clock Balancing Act

In a perfect world, natural gas would flow just like we planned and scheduled it. Outages, critical flow days, and gas imbalances would cease to exist. Unfortunately, we work in a real and imperfect world. Gas schedulers have their hands full. From 10 am until 10 pm every day, gas schedulers need to constantly monitor supply and delivery to avoid imbalances and minimize penalties for the current day. At the same time, energy volumes need to be reconciled, imbalances need to be managed (e.g., carried over, traded with another shipper, cashed out, etc.) for past days and the previous month.

Already, gas schedulers are working in a time-sensitive ecosystem. They’re constantly battling the clock on nomination submissions, looking for reductions, and sifting their way through potential OFOs, tariffs rules, and tiered cash-outs. But does their back-end system support this necessity for speed?

The Traditional Gas Scheduling System: A Need for Change

Whether you need to redirect gas, find another gas source based on supply, or navigate imbalance positions to prevent, adjust, and reconcile against demand, scheduling requires speed and information. Unfortunately, most traditional systems and in-house applications don’t meet the need. When we look at the average scheduling platform, we see gas schedulers deal with a workflow that goes something like this:

  • Pull out your laptop and boot it up
  • Potentially launch a VPN and use an RSA token to connect to the network
    • Plan your gas flow based on instructions from the trader in the existing point application
  • Log into one or multiple pipeline EBB(s)
    • Check your nomination, cuts, and imbalance positions
    • Determine where there is capacity for redirects or check capacity releases available
    • Read critical notices for outages, constraints, and OFOs
  • Double enter the nomination updates you made on the pipeline EBBs into your software
  • Check each cycle to make sure there aren’t any cuts
  • Rinse and repeat

In any work setting, that’s tedious. But in today’s hyper-digital, remote-enabled ecosystem, that’s more than tedious. It’s life-sapping. Having been a scheduler for a number of years, I get it. It is time for a change. One that empowers schedulers and traders alike with information to make good decisions and access to digital age tools to execute them.

Creating Change with Trellis

As McKinsey recently noted, energy is slow to change. Part of this is simply due to the relative complexity of energy processes, but a significant part of the issue boils down to a lack of options. When we look across the natural gas industry, we see islands of fragmented data and uncharted oceans of connectivity that hamper the ability to schedule gas effectively.

At Trellis, we’re doing things differently. Our energy transaction management system (ETMS) was built from the ground up to handle digital energy transactions. Part of this process involved rethinking some of the traditional approaches to natural gas. Why can’t energy solutions be as easy, intuitive, and simple as leading consumer technologies? Do we really need to leverage clunky in-house systems and swarms of spreadsheets to handle transactions? Honestly, we don’t. It is time to move into the digital age we enjoy in many other parts of our lives.

Trellis converges consumer side ease-of-use combined with the detailed, accurate, and data-heavy workflows energy schedulers are used to using. You can access Trellis from major web browsers on any device at any time. Once schedulers have accessed our system, they can immediately find the information they need to take action from anywhere in the world. From remote workers at their kid’s soccer game to employees sitting at their desks, Trellis can be quickly accessed by phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.

The future of energy is digital. Gas scheduling is ripe for disruption. You need a scalable, intelligent, and user- friendly solution that gives your schedulers the information, ease of use and automation they need to execute pipeline and wellhead changes in the moment. And that moment can be anywhere at any time.

Ready to Evolve?

As a natural gas company, you appreciate the delicate balance of managing your gas on the grid. It’s a never-ending job that requires tight adherence to timelines and near-perfect forecasting and responsiveness. Don’t let outdated internal point systems and tedious scheduling EBBs reduce your agility. Trellis is an end-to-end energy transaction management solution built for the digital age. We simplify nominations, minimize imbalances, and maximize pipeline and wellhead profitability. Are you ready to enable your gas schedulers? Contact us to learn how Trellis can help you, or sign up for a free demo to see Trellis in action.

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