Plant Tech—2008, The Hague

Plant Tech is the definitive European event for oil and gas capital project software and data management. We report on the evolving world of plant data standards, increased recognition of the role of data quality, and on engineering projects of the future from Fluor Corp. and Aker Solutions. Shell’s presentation describes a near ideal handover of data and operations on Ormen Lange.

Around 50 attended the 2008 Plant Tech conference and exhibition held late last year in The Hague. Plant Tech lies at the intersection between upstream/construction, supply chain/e-commerce and process and chemicals. A panel session discussed the possibility that the piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) could be considered as a ‘single source of truth’ throughout a plant’s lifecycle. The consensus was that the P&ID was more of a ‘view’ onto properly databased information. Regarding standards, this community has settled on the ISO 15926 suite of plant data standards, but, as we are at an intersection, there are other contenders—as witnessed by presentations from the European CEN supply chain organization and the German process industry standards body, Prolist. Operators will likely have to satisfy multiple standards in the real world and mapping from one to the other is increasingly important.

Is plant data management worth the effort? According to Pearson-Harper’s Mike Moroney, a ‘best in class’ handover today makes only a 50% data handover, the typical employee spends 20% of his or her time looking for data and spare parts data is often thrown away, ‘rationalized!’ Clean up is always worth it, ‘ask a lawyer!’ ‘There is never enough time and money to do it right, but there is always enough time and money to do it again!’ Peter Zgorzelski (Bayer and Prolist International) noted that despite talk of digital engineering workflows, today’s reality is, ‘paper, paper, paper.’ On the positive side Fluor Corp’s Project of the Future has resulted in faster design, ‘one time’ data entry and ‘tool independent’ data. Aker Solutions also reports success from its implementation of COMOS project data hub. Eldar Misund’s (Shell) talk on the Ormen Lange special case handover from StatoilHydro shows that it can be done. Shell’s three data priorities? Quality, quality and quality!

Even if the above makes it sound as though the data interoperability problems are still some way from being ‘fixed,’ there is a strong feeling that progress is being made. Is this a ‘standards success?’ In part perhaps but, in a reflection of what is happening in the upstream, it is also due to companies turning away from Excel ‘hell’ and returning to a central database.

Eldar Misund presented a special case ‘handover’ of the Ormen Lange production facility from StatoilHydro to Shell following a change in operatorship. The complex includes an onshore processing plant and a 1,200 km pipe to the UK passing through Sleipner. Ormen Lange’s 150,000 data tags are all documented in databases. Shell’s lifecycle information (LCI) system covers safety, operations, maintenance, inspection, redesign and modifications. This leverages an Aveva PDMS model, one of largest in world. Handover was entirely electronic and was data, not document, centric. The ‘as built’ handover went into Shell’s applications. These include the Shell Engineering Data Warehouse, LiveLink and SAP. Shell specified three main data requirements, ‘quality, quality and quality,’ along with a focus on ‘as built’ data. Specifications were derived from Hydro’s Documentation for Operations (DFO) and translated to Shell’s Engineering Information Specification (EIS) where they will be the basis of the next 40 years of operations. Shell’s EIS was established in 1999 based on STEP and POSC. 90,000 documents were loaded in the last year by one person, including reviews and verification at many stages. Shell’s IM toolset is built around Assai DCMS, a LiveLink document repository and an AHA4P engineering data warehouse. SAP is used for the 90,000 equipment items. Misund described the Ormen Lang paperless handover and data-centric approach as a success.

Pearson-Harper’s Mike Moroney, who is also CIO of the Karachaganak, Kazakhstan project, presented a keynote on ‘making engineering data work.’ Moroney listed data problems associated with major capital projects, noting that on handover, only 40% data collected is actually passed on to the operator. Even a ‘best in class’ handover would involve only around 50% of the data. For owner operators, this makes for sub optimal asset lifecycle management. Frequently, low cost, sub optimal solutions are deployed. Companies are still cost cutting, even on maintenance. Plants may be designed to be safe, but are all the safety information and HAZOP plans handed over? Will safety information still be there on decommissioning in 30-40 years time?

The information needed to build a plant is a small fraction of that required to operate it. Projects don’t understand the value of information. Information is ‘sliced and diced’ into silos of process, piping, electrical, managed by different contractors. But maintenance cuts across the silos. Change management is essential. A plant starts to change the day operations begin. But operators have a hard time keeping documentation up to date. It can take three years for a change to be reflected in an updated document. The corporate memory is impoverished. This is aggravated by the fact that personnel move from project to project and may experience only one shutdown in their whole career.

For Moroney, the answer is to ‘tag’ to maintenance level—i.e. all flanges, instruments, valves—as is being done on Karachaganak. This means that data (especially maintenance) can be assigned to everything. This needs to be done by contract, to avoid ‘black box’ tag information. All EPC contractors now have this kind of contract. There has to be a single master reference list—belonging to the OO or EPC. Asset numbers should be assigned up front so that equipment is tagged in the factory. ‘Oddball’ documents, especially Excel are popular but they are also abused and hard to read. Tag ids on 2D CAD drawing can be problematical. Brownfield projects require search for original documents which can be ‘smart scanned’, converting 2D drawings from Microstation to intelligent P&ID diagrams. ‘You need to find out what people are hoarding!’ Clean up is always worth it, ‘ask a lawyer!’ ‘There is never enough time and money to do it right, but there is always enough time and money to do it again!’

Ashish Shah’s talk on Fluor Corp.’s engineering ‘project of the future’ described how the engineering behemoth is dealing with project execution challenges, shrinking resources and recruiting problems and capex ‘migration’ from US to the Middle and Far East. The ‘Project of the Future’ (PoF) task force was set up to make a ‘quantum leap’ in work process improvement. The PoF identified a need for a corporate knowledge base to centralize data from tools like IPE/Kbase, InTools, 3D CAD, InVision, CompleteIT and other generics. These were evaluated alongside Fluor’s ‘Master Plan’ toolset of AspenPlus, HySys, OptimEyes, SmartPlant P&ID, CMMS, Aspen Zyqad etc. PoF sought to identify which tools had most impact, particularly on front end engineering automation. All has been consolidated to Zyqad for design with output to SmartPlant P&ID. In Fluor, Zyqad, known as FrontRunner, is used to generate data sheets along with support for units conversion. Shah concluded that the PoF has resulted in faster design, single data entry and ‘tool independent’ data.

Aker Solutions’ Jann Slettebakk described how plant data quality is key to Aker’s provision of engineering project screening and selection (projects include Kashagan, Dalia, Ormen Lange and Blind Faith.) Aker’s systematic approach to project engineering builds on a project execution model (PEM). Drilling down from the PEM shows, for instance, a piping discipline flowsheet and activity description. The PEM is used from feasibility studies, through definition, fabrication, assembly and completion with a focus on quality. Further drill down brings up an execution plan, activity, quality descriptions and project management. To evaluate the quality of a drawing, Aker embeds ‘control objects’ in P&IDs and isometrics. These connect to checklists and data model verification for control and checks on drawings. For instance a 3D model of ‘piping and layout’ shows control objects for pipeline, valve, pipe support and access/escape routes. The PEM supports concurrent engineering with quality management across the workflow—all in a database centric project management and execution environment. The COMOS project data hub (PDH) is considered such a 3rd generation project—centric data repository. ISO 15926 is used for data handover to clients and as a subcontractor interface. Aker’s focus is on how to use ISO 15926. The standard has started to mature and now supports the smooth exchange of quality information. However, we are ‘still struggling with data exchange today.’ The combination of COMOS PDH, Documentum/ProArc PDMS, SAP etc. is ‘all coming together in 3rd generation repository for systems engineering.’ Knowledge-based engineering (KBE) and design also helps standardize the process. The KBeDesign Tool provides rapid re-use and scaling of detailed design data, along with automatic generation of 3D models, leveraging Aker’s knowledge base of engineering rules.

This article is an abstract of one of The Data Room’s subscription-based Technology Watch reports. More from or email

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.