LIMS key in Russian oil and LNG recovery project

Paul Boughton
The decision to standardise on one laboratory information solution (LIMS) is helping Sakhalin Energy to improve both production and transportation at its Sakhalin II oil and LNG recovery project in Russia's Far East. Sean Ottewell reports.

The Sakhalin II Project is the largest integrated oil and gas development project in the world and as such has a major undertaking for sampling and testing. Environmental and health and safety compliance have been important drivers in the development of Sakhalin II, both to monitor the field operations and plant processes and to measure product specification and quality test the products.

The function of the laboratories on Sakhalin Island include quality testing of oil and gas, process monitoring at LNG plants, testing at upstream facilities and environmental monitoring across the island.

In order to provide a real-time round-the-clock analytical regime, an ultra-modern laboratory was commissioned to be located at the LNG plant (Fig. 1). This new central laboratory is also supported by upstream satellite laboratories.

Laboratory specialists are now analysing samples of oil, gas, chemicals and wastewater from the LNG site. In addition, the laboratory will be used to analyse, as required, samples brought from the onshore processing facility (OPF) as well as managing non-routine samples. The decision to invest in a new LIMS to manage the sampling process from upstream to sample report was imperative for Sakhalin Energy's new laboratory.

Sunil Pandya, the head of laboratory for Sakhalin Energy, explains: "Our laboratory has well-defined procedures for essential quality control work, for scheduling samples, to managing resources and reporting on samples. To manage the workload and integrate with the instrumentation, we selected Thermo Scientific SampleManager LIMS for the laboratory."

The Sakhalin Energy facility handles the entire process from extraction to issuing SOPs and certificates of quality with all samples tracking managed from within the SampleManager system. The laboratory has to operate according to GLP/OECD guidelines and uses SampleManager to demonstrate its procedural conformity. Sakhalin Energy staff use SampleManager LIMS 24/7 to help manage the data from the thousands of samples that are required throughout the sampling stages on Sakhalin Island.

Some instruments of the laboratory are planned to be connected into the LIMS so that reports can be accessed centrally and instruments can be scheduled for calibration from within the LIMS. The data from the facility's state-of-the- art equipment, including gas chromatographs, is all directly transferred into the LIMS which is tasked with storing and tracking data processed in the laboratory. The LIMS is also used for data trending and analysis, or to identify when product is moving out of specification.

Since the implementation of SampleManager LIMS at the laboratory, major benefits realised include improved sample turnaround times, centralised access to data and improved operational efficiencies (Fig. 2). The system also meets the laboratory's need for GLP and ISO17025 compliance (see below). The solution has been capable of handling standard and non-routine sampling requirements, providing audit trails to track deviations and amendments to each study.

The 2005 release of ISO 17025, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, covers laboratories using standard, non-standard and laboratory- developed methods. This international standard is the accepted standard for analytical laboratories developing their data management system for quality, administrative and technical operations.

There are several critical areas of compliance for any oil and gas operation, including security, instrumentation calibration, maintenance of electronic records, traceability of procedures and personnel and environmental and equipment monitoring. The ability of laboratory managers at Sakhalin Energy to have control of this vital information is an important aspect of the oil and gas operation and ensures that production can continue uninterrupted by changes related to environment, personnel, instrumentation or equipment that falls out of calibration or becomes damaged in the production process.

SampleManager LIMS offers a centralised system to access data and extract information, enabling effective management of laboratory operations. It provides evidence and documentation to support laboratory compliance with ISO 17025, while addressing the security required for laboratories conducting testing in their "permanent facilities, at sites away from permanent facilities, or in associated temporary or mobile facilities," by providing full security controls, including "group security," which can be used to segregate work from different clients or in different laboratory areas.

According to Thermo Scientific, SampleManager's enhanced functionality covers a broad range of requirements, including validation of methods, instrument calibration, sampling, control of non-conformancetesting and reporting of results.

To meet ISO 17025 requirements regarding the 'control of non-conforming testing and/or calibration work' the LIMS has built-in functionality for incident management and statistical analysis of both calibration standards and sample results. SampleManager also automatically maintains all electronic records and makes them available for either reviewing or reporting, and has built-in archiving, which allows for the removal of older records once their retention period has expired.

Full audit trail facilities are standard, allowing full traceability of the personnel and the procedures that were entered. These built-in capabilities allow laboratories to more easily review their quality system by having ready access to all incidents, corrective actions, non-conforming results and other events.

To address the technical requirements of the standard, the LIMS has built-in functionality to handle environmental monitoring, a critical component of laboratory compliance with ISO 17025. Within the LIMS, environmental monitoring of key areas of the laboratory can be scheduled on a routine basis. Certain instrumentation can be connected via SampleManager's Instrument Manager function, and data can be collected and logged at periodic intervals. Validation of methods is a critical ISO 17025 requirement, for which SampleManager has built-in functionality to allow lab managers to be in continuous compliance. Meanwhile its Batch Management functionality provides analytical QA/QC support, including automatic and interactive sample assignment according to pre-defined templates.

Equipment and instrument calibration, also an important part of ISO 17025, is managed by SampleManager through Instrument Calibration Scheduling, allowing the LIMS to prevent the use of any instrument that is past its calibration due date. It also provides reporting that indicates which instruments are out of compliance or need calibration.

Finally, to comply with ISO 17025 reporting requirements, SampleManager's existing functionality includes flexible report writing, making it possible to create any report format required by the laboratory, and including any data stored within the SampleManager database.


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