A cost minimization heuristic for the pooling problem
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Pooling and blending are important operations in petrochemical and agricultural industries with high potential economic value. For instance, transporting the natural gas from the production sources to the exit terminals is a complex process where the end products in the terminals consist of a blend of natural gas from different sources. Constraints of particular importance, are restrictions regarding gas quality at terminals and the actual quality of the gas produced at sources. In many situations, intermediate pooling tanks are necessary, implying that an otherwise linear network flow model is transformed into a strongly NP-hard problem recognized as the pooling problem. In this paper, we propose an algorithm for computing good feasible solutions to the pooling problem. In particular, we give a greedy construction method that in each iteration solves a pooling problem instance with only one terminal. Computational experiments demonstrate the merit of the method, which, in the hardest instances, give considerably better results than commercially available local and global optimizers.
KeywordsPooling problem Heuristic methods Network optimization
This research was sponsored by the Norwegian Research Council, Gassco, and Statoil under contract 175967/S30.
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