Even in the best of conditions, an offshore oil platform can be hazardous place to work. As such, they're hardly an ideal venue for on-the-job training. Better to train operators safely back on terra firma, and with a simulated process, where operator missteps are of no real consequence.
Such was the motivation for oil producer Lukoil, when it built an upgraded operator training simulator (OTS) for its Yuri Korchagin field platform in the North Caspian Sea, according to Ilya Fotin, Lukoil chief metrologist and head of automation. "Offshore facilities are very dangerous," he noted.
This week at Emerson Exchange, Fotin and Emerson senior consultant Viacheslav Kulikov presented a discussion of the OTS Emerson created for Lukoil in the Corporate Training Complex located in Astrakhan, near the Caspian Sea.
The North Caspian faces severe weather and sea conditions most of the year, and in 2011 safety training began at the Astrakhan center. The facility was equipped to train personnel in evacuations, sea rescue operations, fire and gas safety, first aid and other essentials, but not in operations. In 2012, Emerson proposed creating a complete OTS that would have the same process, same screens and the same control logic as the actual installation on the platform, but with the ability to expose operators to customized scenarios. The OTS would be located in Astrakhan at the corporate training center, not on the platform.
Fotin noted, "The process is very steady-state, and normally nothing much happens. The operators don't have to interfere with the control system much. This means that in normal operations, they tend to lose understanding of what to do in abnormal situations. With the OTS we can do refresher training for every shift team every few months."
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The system is exactly like the system on the platform, where Emerson supplied the control system, safety instrument system, fire and gas alarm system, and the AMS maintenance suite for about 14,000 I/O points. Because the platform was already in operation, the OTS could duplicate exactly the working system on the platform. Kulikov said that it is planned to synchronize the OTS configuration on an annual basis.
Physically, the OTS consists of five operator workstations serving three roles: supervisor, central control room operator and field operator. There are three DeltaV application workstations, and for the instructor, a Kongsberg K-Spice workstation and a DeltaV ProfessionalPLUS workstation.
The Kongsberg K-Spice system provides a full high-fidelity model for the process, including 26 production wells, as well as all of the associated processes, ranging from water treatment to oil separation. DeltaV SEEDS provides a medium-fidelity model for the power generation, distribution and other support functions.
"The rule is consistent refresher training," Fotin said. Training is done in shifts, with the shift lead, senior operator, production operator, power operator and field operator training together.
Kulikov noted that the Lukoil operating and engineering staff is now trained in a realistic environment onshore, using the same process, operator screens and logic before going to the platform. The scenario-based courseware provides training and evaluation for various training levels from beginners to experienced operators, along with a shift work-efficiency evaluation.
"Our second field is entering operation next year," Fotin said, "and our new operators are already hired and trained. Now, too, when new equipment or new advanced process control strategies are being employed, the OTS gives us the opportunity to test them before installing them on the platform for full operation."