Petronas Virtualizes Natural Gas Production

Upgrade Reduced Hardware Costs and Footprint, Cut Power Consumption and Improved System Availability

By Nancy Bartels

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Honeywell Users Group 2013

Petronas Gas Berhad (PGB) is a major producer of natural gas in Malaysia. It takes gas from fields offshore on the eastern coast of Malaysia and distributes it to end users all over Malaysia and exports some to Singapore. As part of a corporate plan to become a world-class gas producer, in 2010 it embarked on a project to upgrade its regasification terminal and related facilities. Many mechanical, electrical and process systems needed refurbishment, and the plan was to extend the operational life of the facilities by another 20 years.

Syed Hasbullah Syed Adnan, I&C engineer at PGB, told the story of the big upgrade this week at the Honeywell Users Group Americas conference this week in Phoenix, Ariz.

Part of the project involved the upgrade of seven sets of Experion and TDC3000 distributed control systems (DCSs) to Experion 400. This involved upgrading the controllers' firmware, the replacement of DCS servers, FDM servers, operator console computers and server cabinets and relocation of the servers to a rack room, he explained.

A team from Honeywell was brought in to help with this massive refurbishment project. The team collaborated with Petronas on evaluation and assessment of the current technology and a risk assessment. Once corporate approval was attained, implementation began, and one of the first things decided was to take the bold step of virtualizing much of the installation, making Petronas Gas Berhad the first natural gas facility in the world at the time to go virtual.

In PGB's case, Honeywell's Experion Visualization Solution Essentials reduced the number of servers in use from 15 to two. Two of the old servers were kept as backup. Furthermore, virtualization eliminated seven IT server cabinets, saving valuable physical space and reducing electric power consumption by 31%.

Adnan explained that in addition to these benefits, the virtualization improved system availability and reliability, reduced system complexity and simplified system maintenance.  Further, it improved the availability of critical DCS nodes by 50% and provided an opportunity to improve system performance by equally distributing computing loads. Virtualization also enabled PGB to improve security and alarming.

An added bonus, said Adnan, the project gave PGB's staff the chance to improve their capabilities. By working with Honeywell throughout the implementation via their involvement from the beginning in design, test and site installations, they have improved their skill sets and gained confidence in operating the facility.

The virtualization of DCS systems is still new technology to many, but with Honeywell's help, PGB overcame its reservations and challenges and is well on its way to achieving its goal as a world-class gas producer in Asia.

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