Unmanned operations - where control technology is key

Paul Boughton

For oil and gas companies control technology is vital, whether to improve process design, plant operation, or worker safety. Eugene McCarthy reports.

Designed for unmanned operations, a new offshore production platform in the Solan oil field on the UK continental shelf could serve as a model for future developments in marginal fields, where such operations can help increase profits as well as worker safety (Fig.1). The Solan field is expected to produce about 40 million barrels of oil, with an estimated initial production rate of 24,000 barrels a day by the end of 2014.

Premier Oil has awarded Emerson Process Management a US$17 million (EUR12.5 million) contract to automate the production platform.

Emerson's technologies and services will enable Premier safely and efficiently to manage the platform 100 miles west of Scotland from an onshore operations centre in Aberdeen.

As the project's main automation and electrical contractor, Emerson will provide full project services including project management, detailed design, configuration, acceptance testing, commissioning, and start-up support, all as part of a complete solution.

The integrated solution will use Emerson's PlantWeb digital plant architecture, including its DeltaV digital automation system, DeltaV SIS process safety system, CSI 6500 Machinery Health Monitor, and AMS Suite predictive maintenance software. Other elements will include: Emerson's Rosemount pressure, temperature, radar level, and vortex flow transmitters; Micro Motion Coriolis flowmeters; and Roxar sand monitors and multiphase flowmeters.

Emerson will also provide electrical switchgear, uninterruptible power supplies, and satellite telecommunication equipment, as well as an operator training solution that simulates real-world situations to prepare operations personnel for incident management.

Premier is the operator and 60 per cent owner of the Solan oil field.

Clean fuel demand

Honeywell has announced that the Antipinsky refinery in Tyumen, Russia, will use its Experion process knowledge system (PKS) to control plant processes and general refinery facilities as part of the third stage of construction there. Commissioning of the plant will double the refinery's capacity to 7.5 million t/y, helping meet the growing demand for clean fuels and other oil products in Russia and the European Union (EU).

Deploying Experion PKS is part of an initiative to create a single, central operations centre at the refinery. As an additional part of this initiative, Honeywell will supply up to 60 additional workstations to the refinery, which will be installed in the unified refinery control centre.

"There is significant demand for Antipinsky refinery products, both in the region and throughout Russia and the EU," said Leonid Sorkin, general manager, Honeywell Russia. "Honeywell's advanced process automation systems will help the business grow efficiently and safely."

The new construction is part of the refinery's plan to increase its capacity of crude oil processing and to enable manufacture in the next year of products that meet the EU Euro 5 emission standards. The project also includes the construction of a water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, steam generation plant and other general refinery facilities. This phase of construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Also in Russia, Honeywell has signed an agreement with NK Rosneft, a Russia-based oil and gas producer, to be main automation contractor for the construction of its new refinery at Tuapse in the south of the country.

Honeywell will deliver a comprehensive set of services to equip the Tuapse refinery with a single integrated production control system - Experion PKS. With this, the refinery will be able to improve both the efficiency and profitability of its production process. Honeywell will also provide assistance during the design and commissioning stages of the project.

Better boundary management

Invensys has signed a multi-year, multi-million Dollar contract with KBR to supply its SimSci PRO/II simulation software.

Under the terms of a corporate licensing agreement, Invensys will provide PRO/II steady-state simulation software to help KBR accurately model its process technology, used in both the designs KBR provides to its customers and the technology it licenses to the hydrocarbon processing industry.

In addition, Invensys will provide on-site guidance to assist KBR during transition from the previous model.

"Before agreeing to standardise on PRO/II software, KBR needed new functionality to support them while they transitioned from a previous simulation tool," said Tobias Scheele, vice president, design, simulation and optimisation for Invensys. "Our Invensys developers worked hand-in-hand with the KBR team so that they can more accurately model and quickly deliver their processing technology to the market. We are pleased to provide these new features to KBR, as well as to deliver hands-on guidance and on-site engineering services to help them make the transition. We look forward to a long, mutually rewarding partnership."

PRO/II software is a comprehensive simulation solution for process design, revamp and operational analysis. It is backed by more than 45 years of R&D and includes proprietary correlations to model heavy oils.

PAS, a human reliability software solutions provider to the process industries worldwide, has released a new version of its PlantState Suite product which includes inBound Analytics, a robust boundary management solution to improve situation awareness in the control room and prevent industrial accidents.

"The new release of PlantState Suite allows users to configure and receive alarm boundary notifications to proactively manage safe plant operations," said Dennis Ahrens, chief software architect. "It provides advanced analyses for boundary violations in order to identify operational risks and vulnerabilities."

The inBound Analytics module provides clear visibility and unique insights to violations of mechanical, design, safety, and operational limits in real time. Analyses such as frequent violations, violations by boundary type, violations by unit, and time in violation can be obtained for root cause analysis.

The concept of boundary management is not new to the process industries. However, until now companies have used home grown or makeshift point solutions to address this important need. The concept and the design of inBound were developed in collaboration with one of the top five global oil and gas companies, says PAS.

In other news, the latest release of the PlantPAx process automation system from Rockwell Automation allows oil and gas companies to improve operator effectiveness with automated procedures, enhanced visualisation and new skid-integration capabilities.

The system's new sequencer tool enables companies to easily automate process procedures, perform system modifications, and sequence actions directly through human-machine interface (HMI) faceplates.

If a process change is necessary or an abnormal event occurs, a user with the appropriate login privileges can modify the sequence directly from the HMI screen, rather than waiting for a control system expert to modify the procedure code.

"The new PlantPAx sequencer tool eliminates the need for custom-coded configurations to automate procedures for continuous processes," explained Jason Wright, PlantPAx product manager, Rockwell Automation. "It's intuitive, user-friendly interface helps operators see and understand the information they need, and makes procedures repeatable and easier to track."

The PlantPAx system further extends operator effectiveness with a comprehensive HMI toolkit for effective display design and enhanced standards-based alarming. This allows the operator to focus directly on the process itself, reducing system downtime and incidents.

The latest PlantPAx system also features an enhanced independent workstation (or network station) that offers companies more flexibility in plant design - especially when integrating best-of-breed skids into multiple plants worldwide.

"There is an industry trend to leverage process skids for quicker line and plant expansion to help reduce time-to-market," Wright said. "However, integrating these process skids into a traditional distributed control system (DCS) can create complexities and increase costs. In fact, for a traditional DCS, integration accounts for 50-60 per cent of the project costs for end users."

Rolls-Royce lands COSCO supply vessel contract

Rolls-Royce has won an order to provide an integrated design and equipment package-including automation and control - for two offshore supply vessels to be built at COSCO's Guangdong shipyard in China for the Singapore-based Chellsea Group, a provider offshore oilfield services.

The two Rolls-Royce UT 771 WP platform supply vessels will be the first vessels in Asia featuring the striking wave piercing bow designed to pierce through the waves in rough seas, making it possible to keep a more constant speed, reduce fuel consumption and increase on board safety. The vessels will be added to the fleet of two UT-vessels operated by Chellsea today.

Anders Almestad, Rolls-Royce president - offshore, said: "This new design has been developed in co-operation between Rolls-Royce, the ship owner and the yard. Their viewpoint has been vital to our design team in this project."

The delivery from Rolls-Royce will comprise ship design and an extensive integrated systems package including MTU-engines, propulsion system, power electrical system, bulk handling system, deck machinery, automation and control system as well as dynamic positioning system that use satellite technology to automatically maintain the vessels' position without anchoring.

The two vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2015. The contract includes an option for additional four vessels.

There are 22 Rolls-Royce UT-vessels under construction in China at present.

Of these, four UT-vessels are under construction at the COSCO Guangdong yard and four at the COSCO Zhoushan shipyard.

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