PlantPAx Tools Simplify Oil Production

Perenco Overhauls its Gabon Oilfields with PlantPAx Systems

By Jim Montague

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In complex, far-flung oil and gas applications, the power of simplicity can't be overestimated.

For instance, French oil and gas producer Perenco recently undertook the largest surface redevelopment project of its onshore and offshore production operations in Gabon on the central west coast of Africa, which required it to build new infrastructures, and reorganize and coordinate numerous platforms, control facilities and industrial networks.

"Perenco began production operations in Gabon in 1992 with the acquisition from Total and Marathon of developed, offshore fields near Port-Gentil," says Laurent Mollard, Perenco's senior automation and control systems engineer. "Twenty years later, our yearly average production reached 62,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOEPD) in 2012. This growth was sustained by continuous development of mature fields, an aggressive acquisition strategy and successful exploration, but we really needed to streamline all these production operations and overhaul our infrastructure."

Mollard and Jean-Jacques Thebaud, oil and gas engineering sales manager for France and Africa for Rockwell Automation, presented "Perenco: Reduction of Operational Expenditure in Onshore/Offshore Oil Production" today at Rockwell Automation's Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) in Houston.

Headquartered in Paris, Perenco is an independent oil and gas company with onshore and offshore operations in 16 countries in northern Europe, Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. The company presently produces approximately 375,000 BOEPD with net production of 210,000 BOEPD. It's also participating in some of the world's largest exploration projects in Brazil, Peru, northern Iraq, Australia and the North Sea.

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In Gabon, Perenco runs 27 oil production sites, including 12 offshore and 15 onshore. Each offshore site can include three to six platforms. The production sites cover an area that's about 400 kilometers long, running north to south off Gabon's coast, and they're networked via a combination of fiber-optic cabling, radios and satellite communications.

The company also operates one natural gas pipeline, which covers two production fields, one gas treatment plant and two distribution sites. Its licenses are located both offshore and onshore, and it also operates two floating storage and offloading (FSO) units to store and export crude oil. Since 2007, Perenco has supplied gas to the power plants at Libreville and Port-Gentil. To supply the gas handling and treatment plants, the firm also operates and maintains a 450-kilometer pipeline.

"To optimize operating expenditures in our crude oil production areas, we required scalable automation solutions that could handle both process control and safety control on our production facilities, which produce hundreds to thousands of barrels of oil per day," explained Mollard. "We needed to reduce operator presence on small production plants by fully instrumenting offshore platforms and onshore sites; interconnecting all the automation systems; and remotely operating several production facilities from one main control room. We also needed to rationalize our maintenance efforts by reducing local electrical production units and centralizing electricity production; managing our power plant operations, load shedding and electrical network monitoring; and remotely accessing diagnostic information to prevent unsuccessful trips."

Besides coordinating and streamlining existing operations, Perenco also needed new infrastructure to development its nearby Olende and M'Polunie fields; construct two 14-megawatt power plants with high-voltage electrical distribution; install a distribution network linking Libreville and Port-Gentil to gas reserves; and implement a dual-product, 2-million-barrel offshore terminal.

"Our project objectives were to centralize operations in two main control rooms to minimize local presence and reduce logistics costs, such as helicopters and boats," said Mollard. "We also sought to electrify all of our production facilities by installing the two main power plants to reduce local electricity generation and maintenance costs. We also wanted to further optimize production by acquiring production-well information that could be analyzed by the geophysical department in its main office and remotely."

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