I´m not sure how far away it actually is, because your humble editor slept most of the way....we arrived in Natal at about 5 AM because of a broken flight schedule. We left for the Petrobras plant at 7. It was 33 degrees Celsius, and I have had this easy job for too long now...I used to be able to handle heat, humidity and safety shoes, long sleeve shirts and hardhats, but since I´ve become an editor, my user muscles have atrophied. But even though they practically had to carry me the last part of the visit, I saw some very interesting things. Smar has built a fair number of metering skids for Petrobras (which, at least here in Natal, is pronounced
) both for gas and for oil; and they have several installations of their novel density transmitter in the oil pipeline.
Petrobras, like other large multinational oil producer companies, is trying to optimize production, and to modernize their facilities.
I saw a dead control panel dating to the 1980s, replaced by A/B plcs from the mid-1990s, and finally, a new, fiber ethernet system with Foundation Fieldbus sensors (of course they were made by Smar, as was the Fieldbus linking system...why do you think Smar brought me here)and a full blown InTouch HMI operator station in the new control room.
Smar acts for Petrobras as a system integration house, and they did all of the design (including civil and mechanical) for the metering skids and all of the design of the HMI, using Wonderware to Petrobras´standards.
Petrobras is in the middle of a fairly hot political issue about where to build a new refinery. Some people want them to buy/build a new refinery in the USA, and others want the new refinery built here in Brazil. Of course, the various state governments in Brazil are now fighting over where in Brazil it should be built. I noticed, however, that while the plant I visited was strictly speaking a transfer station, they seemed to be making kerosene, jet fuel, diesel, and some other things there...perhaps Petrobras has decided to go ahead and expand an existing facility rather than continue to have the politics interfere. It would take little effort to begin refining gasoline there.
In addition, a comment is due about the food. What marvelous food! This country knows how to eat well. I´ve tried many new things, and I have enjoyed the adventure.
Of course, Petrobras doesn´t just use Smar equipment. I saw Saab-Rosemount tank radar transmitters in the tank farm, and Ivani, our Petrobras guide said that after calibration, they work extremely well. I also saw Daniel ultrasonic meters on the gas side (again, "they work quite well, quite stable and accurate.") and Krohne ultrasonic meters on the oil side (same comment from Ivani). But it is quite interesting to note how many things Smar does for Petrobras, and how well.