Efficiency drives major investments in automation and control technology

Paul Boughton

Operating companies continue to invest heavily in automation and control technologies, both for new plants and revamps, in the drive for better efficiency., as Sean Ottewell explains.

Petrobras has selected Emerson Process Management to provide process automation technologies and services for the Petrochemical Complex of Rio de Janeiro (Comperj) in Brazil.

As main automation contractor for Comperj, Emerson will deliver engineering services and technologies for process automation and systems integration of the refining unit, selected utilities, and offsite operations that are part of the Brazilian energy giant’s project.

Built on an area of 45 million m2 – the equivalent of about 6000 soccer fields – the Comperj complex will be able to process 165,000 bbl/d of heavy crude when its first refining unit begins operations in 2013, and the same amount in a second unit expected five years later. This investment in Brazil’s refining capacity will help support the country’s expanding oil production. The project is also expected to generate more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction.

The Comperj project is one of the first in Brazil to use a main automation contractor, which improves coordination of projects involving multiple suppliers and contractors. Emerson will draw on its global experience in this role to provide a broad scope of automation products and services. In addition to systems for process control, safety, fire and gas detection, machinery monitoring, and management of process and maintenance information, Emerson will also supply measurement instruments, control valves, pressure regulators, and other related products and services.

Engineering work has already begun, with hardware delivery to begin in 2011. Automation tasks will be led by a dedicated Emerson team in Rio de Janeiro and in Sorocaba, São Paulo, where Emerson’s Brazilian hq is located. In late 2009, Emerson announced a US$35 million, 45,000m2 expansion of its Sorocaba manufacturing and operations facility.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s South Oil Company has awarded Emerson Process Management a contract to provide crude oil metering systems and related technologies for the new Al-Basra oil terminal now under construction in the Persian Gulf.

The new terminal, which includes both onshore and offshore facilities, will boost Iraq’s oil export capacity by 2.7m bbl/d. The added capacity will give Iraq increased access to global markets as it expands production from its southern oil fields.

Emerson’s Daniel metering systems will measure the amount of oil as custody is transferred from producers to shippers through the Al-Basra terminal. The systems combine innovative ultrasonic measurement technology with diagnostic software that can detect potential problems before they affect accuracy.

“We were impressed by Emerson’s ability to provide the accurate, reliable measurement that users of the Al-Basra oil terminal will expect,” said Oday Nadir Abdul Kareem Al-Quoraishi, South Oil Company’s project manager. “The Emerson team’s industry experience, their measurement expertise, and their proven capability to meet the needs of customers in the Middle East made Emerson the logical choice for this complex project.”

The Daniel metering systems will be part of an integrated solution that also includes: Emerson’s Rosemount, Micro Motion, Roxar, and Daniel measurement instruments; EIM valve actuators; Daniel meter-verification technology; and DanPac measurement and control systems with Daniel flow computers and DeltaV controllers and software. Engineering work is already in progress, with project completion expected in 2013.

“These metering systems will, in effect, serve as a ‘cash register’ that provides an accurate accounting of the oil that changes hands through the Al-Basra Oil Terminal,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president, Emerson Process Management. “We are gratified to be chosen for such an important role in the terminal’s success and welcome this opportunity to expand our participation in the growth of Iraq’s economy.”

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On-schedule re-start

Invensys has installed an InFusion Enterprise Control System (ECS) for ExxonMobil’s lubricants and specialties plant in Beaumont, Texas. Through a joint Invensys and ExxonMobil team effort, the installation was successfully completed and the plant was back to full production on schedule with no safety incidents.

The InFusion ECS will help manage the operating facility, controlling major processes and integrating the existing SAP enterprise resource planning, batch process and final packaging and shipping systems. By making extensive use of Invensys’ open, industry-standards-based ArchestrA architecture framework and other advanced technologies (Fig. 1), the ECS will apply the principles of real-time process automation across the manufacturing enterprise to improve production flexibility and workflow, as well as address end-of-life issues within the existing control systems.

"In 2004, ExxonMobil embarked on a global modernisation plan to realise the lubricant plant of the future, selecting Invensys as their preferred production and integration partner," said Eric Moorehead, vice president, strategic accounts, Invensys. "The InFusion ECS installation at Beaumont continues that modernisation effort. Operating as a ‘system of systems,’ the InFusion ECS holistically integrates our open technology with legacy applications and third-party solutions to improve the plant’s operations and performance in real time. This unique ability is what sets the InFusion ECS apart from anything on the market today."

As part of its ongoing relationship with ExxonMobil, Invensys is also using its Houston, Texas, Engineering centre of excellence to incorporate best practices for ExxonMobil in Beaumont and Port Allen in Louisiana. This approach is helping ExxonMobil continually improve its control system strategies and achieve its goal of developing the lube plant of the future.

Underground gas storage

ABB has won a main automation and instrumentation contract for a new natural gas storage facility in Cheshire, UK. The facility is designed to hold over 400 million m3 of gas, and will be controlled by ABB System 800xA along with ABB instrumentation.

The Stublach facility is being built for Storengy (a GDF Suez company) in Cheshire and will store gas in salt caverns deep underground.

The processing plant consists of gas compressors which move the gas between the caverns and the UK’s national grid transmission system (NTS). Additionally, an on-site drying plant removes water from the gas before it is returned to the NTS. The site is expected to be in operation in excess of 25 years.

Acting as the main instrumentation and automation contractor (MIAC), ABB will provide engineering design services for the automation and safety instrumented system (SIS), along with the supply of an 800xA integrated process control system and third-party instrumentation to Jacobs Engineering which is responsible for engineering, procurement and construction of the plant.

The ABB system will control the import of gas into the caverns for storage and export of gas into the national grid; this includes the complex control required to handle these transfers in both free flow and compression modes.

Plant safety is critical and the TUV-certified AC 800M HI controllers along with the field devices are used as the SIS to control the processing plant, associated pipelines and the well heads, which are situated up to 2 km from the processing plant. This will be engineered by the ABB TUV-certified engineers based in the UK.

Availability and efficiency of the plant are crucial; the System 800xA controllers will be in a redundant configuration to ensure these key factors. The 800xA system also interfaces to fire and gas monitors around the plant and third-party packages such as the compressor unit controls. This provides integrated visibility for the operators of the process with plant assets, along with improved safety.

A significant factor in the selection of ABB for this project was the company’s portfolio of automation, safety and instrumentation products along with the global success of the System 800xA, its MAIC capabilities in the UK and the fact that ABB is just completing a similar installation for gas storage in Cheshire, UK.

The System 800xA control system along with ABB instrumentation provides inherent asset monitoring facilities to assist operators manage and maintain the plant to increase productivity and reduce energy usage.

Alstom Grid wins Scada contract for Louisiana Offshore Oil Port

Alstom Grid has won a contract from Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) to deliver a new supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) system to control LOOP's entire pipeline system, including its offshore platforms, pumping and storage facilities, and refinery distribution pipelines.

The project will be built on Alstom Grid's e-terrahabitat software platform, and will incorporate a suite of liquid pipeline Scada applications from delivery partner, EvolutionSCADA. Alstom Grid has prime responsibility for the full system scope, including the integration and implementation of the EvolutionSCADA pipeline Scada applications, together with the integration of several industry-leading specialty pipeline applications from subcontractors.

The project also includes delivery of a complete communications network to replace LOOP's existing network infrastructure with a state-of-the-art, fault tolerant local and wide area network architecture.

Karim El-Naggar, vp for network management solutions at Alstom Grid said, "We are grateful for the opportunity to supply LOOP with Alstom Grid's e-terra solutions providing real-time Scada platform. Our solution is equally well suited for the oil and gas pipeline market as it is for the electric utility market where Alstom Grid holds the number one position in energy management systems in the US and globally."

Fig. 1. The InFusion ECS solution uses many advanced technologies.

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