Oil and gas construction for the information age

Paul Boughton

Building Information Modelling has the ability to reduce project delivery times, operational costs and waste over the lifecycle of a project. Richard Fletcher reports.

Demanding, huge, and complex projects have become standard practice for the oil and gas industry. Building Information Modelling (BIM) involves a detailed generation and management of a digital representation of the structural as well as the functional aspects of any facility. The model works as a shared repository of knowledge that enables and facilitates decision-making from concept through design and construction, as well as throughout its operational cycle.

Reduced costs

BIM software solutions have been utilised for many years by both engineering and fabrication companies. While many plant design systems for the oil and gas industry may still rely on 2D drawings, turning to BIM solutions will help the oil and gas industry to produce their designs in a planned and efficient way while reducing cost, time, and energy.

The model helps to demonstrate the entire building's life cycle, supporting processes including cost management, construction management, project management, and facility operation.

BIM has a wealth of uses in the entire design process - for example plant equipment, pipe spooling, electrical systems and various structures can be incorporated in a 3D rendered data rich environment.

Furthermore, BIM software solutions like Tekla Structures handle of the whole project lifecycle from initial conceptual studies including 4D visualisation, design of structures, safety systems, engineering, fabrication, construction, sustainability, and finally decommissioning. Those who can witness first-hand the benefits of choosing BIM from design to concept of construction include industry decision makers, owners, contractors, engineering companies, structural engineers, steel detailers, and fabricators and project managers.

BIM offers a centralised information management hub that allows for more control over the project cycle and thus helps to drive down costs. Many companies operating in the oil and gas sector are already using BIM to manage their projects. Alstom Power, SNC Lavlin, Black & Veatch Saipem, Petrofac, Bechtel, UDHE, L&T MHI are a few of several global companies deploying BIM in the field of oil and gas.

BIM in practice

The Whitegate Refinery, based in Cork, has a crude oil processing capacity of 71MBD and produces 75,000 tonnes of oil per day. Furthermore, it supplies around 40 per cent of the Republic of Ireland's fuel needs.

One of the main challenges in working on the refinery was the complex nature of the miscellaneous steelwork and heavy industrial weld details.

The client's handrail specs were quite different to what the team was used to detailing and the client was very strict that their specs were adhered to. There was also a large fully welded assembly making up the main part of the upper platform.

To help solve the issue the 3D Steel Ltd team turned to BIM to enable them to meet the complex and detailed work on the refinery. 3D Steel Ltd created some of their own custom components to speed up detailing, making the process exceptionally easy.

BIM made the welding components light work as the team was able to model the very complex weld details ahead of the actual work.

Ultimately, as the result of BIM the project ran smoothly and the client were very pleased with the outcome.

Mr B K Chaurasia, Structural Head at L &T MHI noted that by adopting BIM the company returned productivity gains and reduced engineering time cycle.

He further cited that BIM also helped L&T MHI to eliminate duplication of efforts at various stages of analysis, design and detailing and save vast amounts of time by always giving access to the most current information.

As a result, the risk of errors, misinterpretations and rework was greatly reduced.

Additionally, Saipem, a large, international turnkey contractor in the oil and gas industry, benefited from the availability of a single structural model from which the project team could extract plans and detailing, lists of materials, weights, and centres of gravity.

Direct interfacing

The software also allowed direct interfacing to the piping model in the plant design system. With the help of BIM, Saipem was able to adequately handle their needs related to material management, construction phase management and integration with corporate standards, for example standard joint macros and customised user attributes and material lists.

Another useful function provided by BIM software is simultaneous access by multiple users to the same model.

Robert Van Der Waal of IV Consult found that BIM was a strong tool that helped the company to deliver quality products.

At the same time, the software also helped IV-Consult to meet their clients' planning targets which were often very tight. With BIM, the company saved about 50 per cent on time compared to working in just 2D.

Higher quality design

Overall BIM helps to ensure more reliable and higher quality of design and structural engineering projects in the oil and gas sector.

BIM ultimately equips companies with a useful tool that offers them the ability to directly improve drawings, interoperability, levels of automatic production while generating the opportunity to increase both creativity and productivity.

For more information visit www.engineerlive.com/iog

Richard Fletcher, Business Development Manager at Tekla UK, Moreley, Leeds,UK. www.tekla.com/uk

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