OITJ Interview—Anne-Marie Walters

The Cullen report on the Piper Alpha disaster highlighted poor offshore data and information management, sparking off a renewed interest in plant data standards that is bearing fruit today.

Anne-Marie Walters, (Bentley Systems) began her career as a chemical engineer with BP before moving via Sema Group to Schlumberger and Atos Origin. She later joined ESSI, an Intergraph spin-off and a key player in information systems for asset management and now a part of Bechtel.

Oil ITJ—What’s ISO 15926 all about?

Walters—After the UK North Sea Piper Alpha disaster, the Cullen Report found that a contributory factor had been the poor data on the facility. There were poor records of the plant ‘as built’ and a lack of control over the plethoric sub-contractors involved in maintaining and running the facility. BP, Shell and AMEC decided to do something under the auspices of the UK CRINE initiative, applying Aerospace STEP processes to the petroleum industry in what became PI STEP. CAESAR systems was engaged in similar work in Norway, extending the POSC Epicentre data model to engineering. In the Netherlands, the Shell-driven EPISTLE data modeling exercise determined that ‘you can’t model a plant like upstream data’. Eventually PI STEP and POSC/CAESAR converged on EPISTLE. Later the Dutch USPI-NL industry organization added equipment and supplies to the equation. All three, PI STEP, POSC CAESAR and USPI-NL then converged to a high level PIEBASE organization whose chairman’s committee ‘sold’ the standard to the International Standards Organization (ISO). This eventually became ISO 15926. ISO 15926 is now managed by the POSC/CAESAR organization although with the recent decline in funding of standards, work has focused on ‘getting them out and using them’.

Oil ITJ—What about the US?

Walters—A new US standards body has now entered the fray – the FIATECH organization – backed by DOW and Dupont. This initiative got a big boost last year from a US government NIST study* which looked at major capital facilities such as private and government buildings. The study found that US capital projects wasted $16 billion annually because of poor IT interoperability – underlining the need for better plant data management.

Oil ITJ—Do these bodies cooperate?

Walters—Today several projects are piloting ISO 15926, many vendors are using XMpLant from Noumenon Consulting. This initiative leverages 15926 plus the STEP XML standard. Current work focuses on data translation, interoperability and delivery to the standard. There is a move in the industry to have FIATECH to manage XMpLant.

Oil ITJ—What’s Bentley doing here?

Walters—Bentley has been acquiring various engineering CAD/CAM tools as follows: Intergraph’s PDS, (developed on top of Bentley’s Microstation), REBIS AutoPlant (AutoCad’s plant application) and Bechtel’s 3DS (now Bentley’s Plant Space). These are now being ported to our SmartPlant environment. The REBIS acquisition heralded a change in Bentley to an ‘open platform’ with read/write of AutoCad files. Bentley also acquired ESSI and now covers both CAD and data management, through ESSI’s eWarehouse. Project documents are managed with Project Wise, a specialist CAD DMS. Bentley also acquired Aspen Tech’s AxSys chemical engineering process simulation tool, part of HySys. We are now pulling all this together into DigitalPlant, leveraging the ‘openness’ of the underlying MicroStation format along with XMpLant. DigitalPlant has been used on BP’s North Sea Claire field, the In Salah and In Amenas Algerian Gas fields and on projects in Baku. BP’s digital business unit is in the process of ratifying DigitalPlant for global deployment. DigitalPlant is also used by Chevron on the Aqbani development in the Middle East.

* NIST Study of ‘Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry.’

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.