Plant Engineering Lifecycle Conference

Attendees at the USPI-NL/PELC conference in The Hague learned that the plant information standards debate has moved on from the arcane data modeling to a practical approach based on the ISO 15926 standard. BP, Shell and ChevronTexaco are just some of the companies actively deploying the content standard. The potential savings in IT interoperability overheads are massive—as a US NIST study of CAPEX projects recently showed.

Jan de Jager, (Technip) noted that in the ten years to 2003, oils managed to triple earnings while engineering and construction earnings decreased! This has resulted in a ‘significant risk imbalance.’ The average value of Technip’s five largest projects is around €600 million - one third of the group’s equity! Oils are ‘transferring risk to suppliers,’ this in turn is leading to a ‘claim culture’ as lawyers sort out who does what and who pays. Technip has grown from 6,000 to 19,000 people in five years. Today’s students in Europe the USA do not find engineering ‘sexy’ and cost differentials are driving work offshore. But this requires upgraded IT facilities, a €70-80 million/year cost to Technip. De Jager complained of clients ‘who mandate their own tools’ for engineering contracts and who refuse data in ‘standard formats’, resulting in ‘inefficiencies and extra cost’.


Dalip Sud, (Shell) presented the plant data standard ISO 15926 (Part 4) as a ‘text book’ of references, organized by disciplines (rotating, piping, instrumentation, activities etc.) with 12,000 core definitions of plant objects. Shell uses a mixture of proprietary tools and libraries – but is moving to use and integrate with ISO 15926. Industry has moved on from the STEP common data model. Today, data in commercial systems is mapped and extracted to ISO where needed. Mapping a system to Part 4 is done ‘once and for all’. Questioned as to the overhead of using the standard, Sud responded ‘In the early days, we were talking about data modeling at an astronomical cost. Today we just map equipment definition and terms. The effort has been drastically reduced, down to man-weeks.’


Andy Till (BP Exploration) addressed the IT behind construction of the Angolan Greater Plutonia FPSO. The ISO 15926 standard was used for data and documents and written into the contract, along with detailed responsibilities for handover. Links from an equipment tag number point to OEM documents with equipment characteristics etc. 80,000 documents are available in a ‘Virtual project Room’ publishing tool with 3D views of plant (Aveva Vnet).Till complained that ‘consistent, clean data is not generally available from vendors’. The Angola project ‘only scratches the surface of the possibilities of standards-based engineering and handover’.


ChevronTexaco’s (CTC) Saha condensate project is a $1.9 billion, 100,000 bbl/day development. CTC had issued guidance on documents and drawing classification tags, but there were ‘deficiencies’ in implementation. Goulding described the contract specifications as ‘appalling’ in terms of standards and format prescription. CTC’s managers believed that standards increase costs. They don’t! Today CTC’s contracts now include precise terms re data and documents. Initial construction started without an IT/IM plan. This was rectified and CTC put in a Documentum eRoom server. The technology began to drive adoption, users could see benefits from standard document nomenclature. ‘The whole thing accelerated’ to embrace transmittals and change management. Vendor documents (manuals) on PDF are being re-organized by CTC into a Data Warehouse which now holds the ‘best information in the concession’ and ‘will become a standard.’

$16 billion waste

During the round table discussion, Anne-Marie Walters (Bentley) reported that a study by the US NIST had ‘put the wind in the plant IM industry’s sails.’ The report found that US Capex projects wasted $16 billion in IT interoperability overheads – and that this cost is borne by owner operators.

This article has been taken from a longer report produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. More from

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