"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."
To accomplish these diverse goals and simplify its operations, Mollard and his colleagues turned to longtime partner Rockwell Automation, which has been assisting Perenco since it started working in Gabon. "We used a global standard approach with PlantPAx redundant servers for main production facilities, and combined them in multi-server applications. We implemented ControlLogix process controllers, SIL 2 safety controllers and power distribution controllers. Next, we installed rack-based I/O for our main plants and FLEX I/O and POINT I/O for remote installations. We also used Ethernet for Level 2 and peer-to-peer communications, and adopted ControlNet for our I/O components. Again, we also used fiber optics, wireless, satellite or GSM networking, depending on an individual site's needs."
Mollard added that all these updated components give its offshore platforms and onshore operations multi-server capabilities, which allow it to easily centralize operations in its central control room. "ControlLogix's multi-discipline capability lets us apply a global standard over every site," explained Mollard. "Likewise, smooth integration to the IT environment enables us to secure remote access via satellite from any location, while PlantPAx's scalability allows us to carry out projects in a phased approach. Rockwell Automation's information-oriented solutions also give us easy access to production data for analysis, which helps optimize our financial investments."
Because Perenco's redevelopment project meant it was often dealing with developed fields and managing existing equipment, many of its new projects didn't involve building complete platforms or plants, but instead required it to add new components to older facilities. "It could be difficult to remember where all the existing equipment was, so it helped that we could make all our fire and gas (F&G) connections directly to our PLCs too," reported Mollard. "We can also manage our power generation with a PLC for power management. All these interconnections let us monitor everything from one central control area."
Mollard added that Perenco has also been standardizing its safety instrumented systems (SISs), emergency shutdown systems (ESDs) and F&G systems on the same PLCs from Rockwell Automation and monitoring them together on PlantPAx. In addition, it's also standardizing its HMIs and SCADA programs, which will allow staff to work on uniform displays and simplify training for them.
"The real value of this simplification and standardization is that common platforms can reduce the cost of spare parts. However, we're also getting uniform well analytics and production dashboards that are allowing us to follow operations trends in Gabon from our offices in Paris, and then react and make better decisions in real time," added Mollard. "These standard solutions from Rockwell Automation are going to be deployed further in Gabon and also in Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia, Peru and Cameroon. They'll be easy to remotely support, and they'll help our site maintenance and project engineers optimize operations and improve production turnover in any of these locations."