Earlier this year, Microsoft sunsetted support for its Windows XP server operating systems. Windows Server 2003 will soon follow in July of 2015. Chevron Corp is using this imminent non-compliance with corporate IT policies to help motivate and justify an ongoing modernization and standardization plan across its fuel blending and movement operations. Along the way to compliance, the company is finding improved safety, reliability and profits, too, according to Paul Singh, a Chevron blending specialist who supports automation strategies throughout the corporation's refining operations.
The company is in the midst of a multi-year, multi-refinery effort to standardize and update its blending operations, which involves upgrading software and hardware components to 64-bit Windows Server 2008 platforms, updating older oil movement and storage applications to Honeywell Process Solutions' Blending and Movement Management (BMM) solution, and migrating previous-generation distributed control systems to Experion PKS. Singh presented the company's work to date and lessons learned along the way this week at the 2014 Honeywell Users Group Americas Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.
Safety, Environment and Profits, Too
Safety and environmental protection remain primary motivations, Singh explained, but newer system capabilities and best practices, from scheduling and planning all the way down to on-line Raman analysis, can improve profitability in the range of a few cents to more than a dollar a barrel. "Blending is the cash register of the refinery," Singh explained. "Everything we save in blending goes straight to the bottom line."
Chevron is striving to eliminate all sources of product give-away, driving its blending operations ever closer to specification limits. Indeed, company best practices already have pushed octane give-away to less than 0.05%, effectively lower than can be measured using even state-of-the-art on-line analyzers, Singh said. Other sources of blend inefficiency include property and planning model uncertainties, blend component imbalances and shortfalls. "We're implementing systems to tackle them all," Singh said.
Singh shared a number of system migration best practices that Chevron has gleaned in its continuing journey:
- Keep improved safety and environmental protection front and center as primary motivation.
- Use virtualization where appropriate to reduce engineering and implementation time.
- Get the advanced process control staff involved in the earliest stages of the project.
- Resolve all issues with instrumentation, electrical, mechanical and analyzer systems before cutover to the new controls.
- Avoid a new system cutover during the already challenging transition between summer and winter fuel blends.
- Provide 24x7 coverage until new system uptime meets performance expectations.
- Test all interfaces and blend laws during factory and site acceptance testing to ensure that recompiled algorithms still function properly.