Dome Exhibitions’ 4th International digital oilfield conference

PDO - ‘like easy oil, easy plant is running out;’ GNOC the futuristic gas network operations center; drones and robots in hazops; smart mobile workers and their ‘e-buddy.

Dome Exhibitions’ 4th international digital oilfield conference held earlier this year in Abu Dhabi is an interesting show, with more of a process engineering focus than the EU and US events. There is also a good involvement from operators, particularly PDO* with in-depth presentations on several ongoing projects. Hilal Al Harthy observed that, just as the ‘easy oil’ is running out for explorationists, the ‘easy plant’ is rapidly becoming a thing of the past for the process control community. In the old days of high profitability, there was little incentive to optimize. Things have changed with complex plants and automated control systems.

In most cases, poor performance can be traced back to poor plant design.

There is a major disconnect between plant design and process and business objectives. This in turn is down to the lack of in-house control systems expertise and a general failure to design for the big picture of overarching plant control. ‘Optimizing sub components of a system by definition creates a sub optimum system.’ PDO is practicing what it preaches by reviewing existing control schemes and modifying them such that they integrate more facets of the process. The result is less deferred or lost production, reduced operator intervention and automated startups.

Jamal Balushi and Abdulhameed Al-Habsy’s presentation began with an image of the futuristic control room planned for PDO’s gas network operations center (GNOC). GNOC was driven by a rapid growth in PDO’s gas business resulting in a complex of operations over a wide geographical area. GNOC includes three work streams, physical infrastructure, technical (HMI/control and automation) and business requirements. The many small fields currently use control systems from Honeywell, Yokogawa and Foxboro. But the plan is to move to a common HMI with 3rd party integration via Wonderware or Yokogawa. This is ‘not an easy choice.’ Wonderware is already used in PDO’s oil operations and Yokogawa is deployed at the Ju’aymah NGL plant in Saudi. The tradeoffs and vendor dependencies are under study. Final detailed design is slotted for 2015.

Salim Al-Mawali provided an entertaining exposé of ‘smart’ technology use at PDO. Robot and drone usage is being evaluated for use in dangerous environments including H2S, high temperatures and explosive atmospheres. A ‘smart mobile worker’ is equipped with an ‘e-buddy’ system comprising GPS/real time locating receiver, camera, voice headset, gas monitor and health sensor. Elsewhere Falcon-8 drones are used for asset inspections, engineering progress monitoring and virtual geology field trips. Drones are also effective in hazops such as tip inspections. More from Dome Exhibitions.

* Petroleum Development Oman.

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