EU Plant Engineering and Design Conference, The Hague

The EPEDC conference focuses on the oil and gas, process and power verticals. This year saw renewed interest in the ISO 15926 data standard (especially for handover) which has been leveraged successfully by Malaysian power generator Malakoff. Other presentations focused on commercial tools from Aveva, InnoCielo, Intergraph, ShareCAT and Dassault Systèmes. Presentations covered deployments on ExxonMobil’s North Sea assets and the Shell-operated Sakhalin II project.

Miguel Muñoz’ European Plant Engineering and Design Conference (EPEDC) was held last month in The Hague. Munoz has been a strong supporter of plant engineering since the enthusiasm of the Plant Information Management (PIM) Conferences of the 1990s. A theme of Muñoz’ conferences is the plant and process standards initiative, the POSC/CAESAR (ISO 15926) plant data standard. Although interest in the standard waned in the early years of this century, there is renewed interest in both plant data management and in the standard itself.


Aveva VP Derek Middlemas’ keynote contrasted the progress that supply chain management has made in retail and in discrete manufacturing with the ‘haphazard’ approach to information management (handover) in the plant construction business. The plant industry is very information intensive, much more so than the retail or banking sectors. Supply chain integration in the automotive sector means that your ‘blue BMW’ is made to order*. Why can’t we use information as effectively as other verticals? It is down to the project execution strategy of owner operators and engineering contractors. There is little incentive for contractors to improve in a cost plus environment. Short termism and pressure to deliver reduce institutional learning and the ability to optimize. Contracting strategies are hampered by a fragmented supply chain.


Such issues can only be solved by owner operators. Unfortunately, many oils have outsourced the engineering department without changing their processes. But they still ‘own’ the risk. Middlemas suggests the only workable solution is a proactive IM strategy, including manage your own data. We need ‘information engineers,’ but they don’t exist inside owner operators. They are inside companies like ShareCat, Pearson Harper and others. To quote from Bill Gates, ‘Today, virtually everything in business is undifferentiated commodity. How you manage information determines whether you win or lose.’


Eirik Fjelde (KTB Consultants) described ExxonMobil’s use of InnoCielo’s Meridian engineering document management system to support operations and maintenance (O&M). InnoCielo Meridian (ICM) is used on ExxonMobil’s production facilities and exploration activity, crossing multiple departments and external partners. The system offers secure, onshore and offshore access and revision management. This allows document re-use in maintenance. Data can be exchanged with vendors, leveraging an engineering numbering system based on the NORSOK standard and linking to Maximo, SharePoint and Documentum. The system is also used in Exxon’s Operating Integrity Management System for procedures, manuals and revision control. Exxon believes that ‘all parties should work on one system.’


This was borne out in a major incident that occurred in 2004. A helicopter spotted a gas leak which was a serious hazard to shipping. The Norwegian authorities were contacted and they informed all nearby facilities. Jotun A responded as they saw pressure drop in the feeder connecting to StatPipe. An expansion loop on the sea bed had been exposed and caught by a trawler. Meridian allowed an onshore team to access all relevant documentation in under 30 minutes for an effective shut down. The effectiveness of the data management system was proven in this single incident.

Sakhalin II

Chris Mitchell (AMEC) outlined some of the information management challenges on the Shell-operated Sakhalin II project. AMEC provided the topside FEED**, design, engineering and procurement. Two platforms have been built, LUN-A (22,000 tonnes) and PA-B (28,000 tonnes)—both world records when built. Information management scope spans engineering design and document management, document control, engineering systems PEGS, PDMS and Intools (Intergraph), AVEVA and ShareCAT. Systems have been interfaced with AMEC’s corporate IT in support of the information handover guide. IM customers and locations are spread around the world in a complex supply chain of vendors, software tools databases and workflows for data capture and QC. ShareCat has been deployed as the key application for supply chain coordination. The tool was first used by AMEC to gather vendor documentation. Now Shell has adopted the tool and expanded its scope to include documents, tag data, content and spare parts. A Shell International audit revealed a need for better IM support focused on improving handover understanding by both AMEC and SEIC. The audit also determined that an information loss due to poor IM would amount to about 1% of Capex—i.e. $250 million. A full time SEIC information manager was appointed in late 2004. Some 192,000 tag numbers have been generated and 1.5 million data attributes assigned. These learnings have been rolled-into Shell’s current electronic information sharing design and engineering practice.


Rosli Abdul Hamid (Malakoff Corp.) presented the results of a major real-world ISO 15926 by a power plant operator. ISO 15926 is a key component of Malakoff’s lifecycle asset information management (LCAIM) project. LCAIM leverages ISO 15926 from an owner operator perspective to combat IM challenges such as plant information in unstructured documents, hard copies data management and low ‘as built’ data quality. Data is hard to maintain because of missing native formats of engineering schematics, especially when acquiring a 15 year old plant. LCAIM leverages IM developments such as Open Source, XML, portals and standards from PCA and FIATECH. LCAIM offers a structured approach to handover from EPC*** to O&M**** by harmonizing IM across O&M and engineering. On the business process side, EPC deliverables leverage ‘intelligent’ engineering applications based on the ISO 15926 data model. 90% of the LCAIM data model is reusable across projects. There has been a shift in thinking from documents to structured data management. EPCs and vendors should align on ISO 158926. Competition in construction is hotting up—especially from China. Owner operators with good IM and risk management will have a competitive advantage.

Pearson Harper

Steve Pearson (Pearson Harper) believes that if you build a data warehouse without a content management system you are wasting your time. Much of today’s engineering involves information loss. A jet engine has been desribed as an ‘as information degradation’ machine. Digital data is turned into scanned documents and a thousand page PDF. ‘Intelligence’ is lost and information becomes hard to navigate. We need to stop these silly practices from spoiling the information age. Pearson Harper (PH) clients, which include BP, SASOL and Shell, are all buying the same equipment so this is a great opportunity to share information. EPCs tend to work in silos so PH captures their information into its ‘PHASSET’ database which is ‘ISO 15926-like.’ Client systems including AVEVA, SAP, and Maximo can then be populated in a orderly manner with QC’d data. PHASSET now holds all of BP Angola’s Block 21 engineering data. In the old days, project information arrived at the OO 12 months after first oil! Now, information is available before commissioning, so operations work with the same data from the outset. Data completeness has risen from 50% to 95% and accuracy from 11% to 90%. Incidentally, BP had no tag management system in Texas City before the disaster—they do now! PH has already mapped the PH dataset to ISO 15926, ‘a charitable contribution to industry.’ One problem with the standards process is that when a contributor like PH submits new data to ISO, ‘they expect us to pay for the review process.’ For an SME like PH this is ‘a non starter.’

Dassault Systèmes

Rolf Gibbels described Dassault Systèmes’ plant lifecycle management (PLM) joint venture with IBM. This was initiated in 1981 and now embraces IBM’s Maximo MRO unit. Dassault brands include SolidWorks, Catia, Simulia, Delmia Enovia and 3DVia and the new CIMAGE acquisition. A click through from CATIA pulls up information from the Enovia parts database. A modern FPSO weighs in at some 10,000 tonnes and 135,000 parts—somewhere between an Audi (2 tonnes, 10,000 parts) and a Boeing 787 (240,000 tonnes, 1 million parts). Until recently plant process and petrochemicals has lagged in PLM—but today, ‘the time is right.’ Dassault’s PLM Plant supports OO data ownership throughout project, linking engineering construction and maintenance from day one. EPEDC presentations are available on

* Automotive is not perhaps the best analogy when you consider information handover to the ‘owner operator’ i.e. the driver!

** Front end engineering design.

*** Engineering and procurement contractor.

**** Operations and maintenance.

This article is based on a longer, illustrated report from The Data Room. More information on this subscription-based service from

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2007 Issue # 12.

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