Oil and Gas Forum Users Manage Turmoil More Easily

How Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk Software Applications Are Helping Oil and Gas Users to Gain Better Operational Control of Offshore Production Assets

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Rockwell Automation

There are more than a few upheavals going on in the oil and gas industry these days. No kidding.

Deeper and more dangerous settings, increasing safety incidents, energy sourcing shifts, economic recessions, technological advances, regulatory changes, ongoing political and religious strife are all combining to make oil and gas exploration more uncertain that ever before.

It's sure lucky that oil and gas was such a stress-free field before now, right?

Still, this is the world as it is today, and having a tiger by the tail isn't too bad, if you can keep a good hold on it. To help process engineers and their applications maintain their grip, organizers of Rockwell Automation's Oil & Gas Forum gathered several expert presentations this week at Automation Fair 2010 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. 

The first presenter, Peng Hu, power department manager for the China National Offshore Oil Co. (CNOOC), reported that his company recently worked with contractor WellReach Automation Engineering Co. and Rockwell Automation to upgrade and resolve a variety of different power facilities on its offshore platforms in and around the South China Sea. Started in 1982, CNOOC has 65,800 employees, and had total revenues of RMB 209.6 billion in 2009.   

"Most of these oil fields are far away from each other, and so they were developed in different modes and built at different times. This means their power systems are complex and difficult to manage," explained Hu. "Our power grid had an isolated power station, which made load-sharing management and load-shed adjustment difficult, and the turbine generator control system had multiple equipment types and different versions from different suppliers. The management software was from Maximo, PIMS and SAP. However, our maintenance costs were very high because we had to import critical equipment, and also meant that we had big downtime losses."

To secure better data and a more uniform presentation of its power facilities, CNOOC used Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk software to implement an integrated, digital field solution for five of its platforms. Employing a web-based structure, Hu reports that CNOOC's main process data management system (PDMS) features six independent dashboards, including:

  • Power System Overview of all power assets, their real-time status, and general alarming functions.
  • Dispatch Management for load planning and individual case adjustments.
  • Operations Management that reports on running hours, and includes expert remote routine checking and key performance indicator (KPI) management of every unit.
  • Maintenance Management to track regular maintenance tasks, and also to handle special projects.
  • Engineering Management for routing inspection jobs to the right personnel, and indicating equipment required. It also has a Training Pyramid to direct each engineer to get the training they need.
  • Expert Support System includes expert documents, video conference capabilities and other resources to aid troubleshooting.    

The main FactoryTalk software applications that CNOOC used were VantagePoint, ViewPoint and Historian. Besides using these parts of FactoryTalk's Integrated Production and Performance Suite, CNOOC also employed Rockwell Automation's RSLinx software, Java software, MyEclipse 6.0, Tomcat5 and Oracle 9i to build its six-part portal.

"Our new PDMS system gives us real-time monitoring, pre-warnings, allows faster support, enables us to cooperate more closely, let us correctly dispatch orders, and helps us manage our power facilities more efficiently," said Hu. "All of this has greatly boosted the operational efficiencies on our platforms." 

Besides getting different equipment or facilities to report information more uniformly, sometimes users need the same kind of uniformity from numerous different kinds of information software. For example, Mark Lochmann, director of reservoir and production technology at Landmark Software and Services, reported that his company is using integrated production operations (IPO) to help Chevron coordinate numerous data sources at its Agbami field off the coast of Nigeria. Landmark is part of Halliburton's drilling and evaluation services division. 

"Because oil and gas reserves are more complex, hard to reach and difficult to evaluate than ever, we're processing huge amounts of geologic, seismic and other raw data," said Lochmann. "And, while technology is key to reducing these uncertainties and improving efficiency, we're also seeing the need for an unprecedented convergence of people, processes and technology. As a result, all the oil companies have been developing ‘digital oil fields' by taking the practices they've learned over many years, and using them to turn oil fields into factories with instruments and automation." These efforts include Chevron's iFields, BP's Fields of the Future, and Shell Oil's SmartFields.

To aid these efforts, Lochmann added that Landmark has deployed 75 different software-based workflow projects over the past few years in offshore applications in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in North Africa, West Africa and in several Latin American locations. One of the most instructive of these is the Agbami field, which is offshore about 200 kilometers southwest of Port Harcourt. The 2.5-year-old field's main reservoir is about 3,050 meters deep, includes about 30 fuel, gas and water-injection wells in about 1,500 meters of water, and produces about 250,000 barrels of oil worth about $20 million per day. The field is operated by Chevron, but its other contractors include Star Deepwater Petroleum, Petrobras, Statoil and Texaco Nigeria Outer Shelf.

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