Voices: Larson

Sonatrach Manages Risk with Lifecycle Services

Algerian Energy Company Adapts to the New, While Preserving Past Investments

By Keith Larson

HUGEMEA Banner

Operational risk can take many different forms. Continuing to rely on older, obsolete control systems presents one set of downsides. But moving forward to the new and unfamiliar can be risky as well. Sonatrach, the Algerian-based energy company, recently faced just such a dilemma, related Abderahmane Frih, Sonatrach control engineer, in a presentation to fellow process automation professionals from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region at the Honeywell User Group (HUG) meeting, November 4-7, in Nice, France.

At the company's natural gas liquefaction and processing facility on the North African country's western Mediterranean coast, several major pieces of equipment were due for overhaul, and presented an opportunity to overhaul its aging controls infrastructure as well. The plant's 1990s-era Honeywell TPS network had begun to show its age, and the operating system for its Windows XP consoles was scheduled to be unsupported by Microsoft come April, 2014.

Read Also: A Shared Stake in Customer Success

Sonatrach entertained the two paths forward: a full-scale migration to the Experion PKS, complete with new fault-tolerant Ethernet (FTE) network and C300 series controllers; or a more affordable network retrofit that effectively replaced the older Universal Control Network (UCN) with its FTE successor, Enhanced UCN (EUCN), together with new Experion PKS consoles.

From a hardware perspective, the latter approach involved swapping out controller and network interface cards such that all their Network Interface Modules (NIMs) became ENIMs, and their High Performance Managers (HPMs) became EHPMs. Importantly, this approach would allow Sonatrach to begin to leverage new network and HMI technology while preserving the company's investment in control programming and strategy development.

A full migration to Experion, on the other hand, would also have required re-engineering of the underlying code, a risk the company didn't care to take, Frih said. "The re-engineering of our control strategies would have been a more extensive effort entailing a longer shutdown, a longer FAT [factory acceptance test]," Frih said. "So we chose EUCN instead of the full C300 transition," he said.

To execute the transition, Sonatrach entered into a three-year-long Lifecycle Management (LCM) agreement with Honeywell that will also allow the plant some breathing room to plan for longer term evolution. "Cost and downtime were key considerations," Frih said. "This was the lower risk decision."

More from this voice

Title

Back in CONTROL!

Just when he thought he was out, Group Publisher and VP of Content, Keith Larson, is pulled back in. Check out "Wind-up," his new monthly column positioned as a final punctuation for CONTROL magazine.

04/17/2006

Invensys ups enterprise integration ante

It's too early to tell the Visicalcs of today from the Microsoft Offices of tomorrow, but, for now, Invensys Process Systems appears headed in a positive direction.

05/15/2006

Connectivity that counts

Today, much fruitful activity in the process automation realm is on the meaningful integration of applications with each other, so that true knowledge and information—and not just more data—is the outcome.

06/14/2006

The rise of the User Group meeting

Whether they’re called fairs, exchanges, summits, worlds, symposia, or user conferences, hosting or attending at least one such event each year is now a routine part of how industrial automation gets done.

07/19/2006

Life of a salesman

Always ready with a joke and a smile, Harvey M. Warren was a beloved and respected presence throughout the eastern U.S., serving marketing clients in the industrial automation industry for nearly 20 years.

09/15/2006

Best-practices gulf is poised to widen

As best-in-class, global manufacturing companies strive toward standardizing systems and improving business processes, the gulf between top-performers and technology laggards continues to widen.

10/10/2006

What kind of training do you really need?

As supervisors and employees from outside the research environment are surveyed on thesis-based degree programs, continuing education expectations will converge—and not toward those of the supervisors.

11/10/2006

Industrial networking for the rest of us

As networking technology and its applications continue to advance, the greatest innovations today are not in the networks per se, but in making them easier and more foolproof to implement.

12/16/2006

Yokogawa shedding quiet company image

While it’s difficult to gauge quantitatively where Yokogawa stands in its market-share quest, recent project wins reflect the aggressive moves the company is making to become a more dominant global leader.

02/01/2007

The new energy opportunity

The changing energy landscape promises to keep process automation professionals quite busy for many years to come. Now, if we can just get that potential through to a few more idealistic adolescents…

03/09/2007

ABB thriving in global sweet spot

ABB today faces a perfect storm of a different type. Its focus on power and productivity puts it squarely in the frenzied center of global industrial and infrastructure investment.

05/10/2007

Integration across the fourth dimension

In the heavy continuous process industries, well-evolved simulation tools exist to aid in process design, but how well do they really integrate with the mechanical design tools they feed?

06/08/2007

Of Family Trees and Brand Patriotism

Keith Larson talks about the results of or May survey. We asked Control subscribers to identify the current parent companies of different process automation brands. See the results.

07/15/2007

On ‘Strange’ Loops and Plant Intelligence

Douglas Hofstadter asks in his recently published book, "I Am a Strange Loop," how anything as amorphous and mysterious as the “I” within each of our brains can exhibit any real power over the physical world.

08/30/2007

Basic Skills Needed to Combat Alarm Woes

If we don’t have the foundation right, why are we surprised that operators are getting overwhelmed by alarms?

10/02/2007

Is Latest Green Movement Sustainable?

Green being back in may well be the hook we need to get young people re-engaged in careers in engineering.

11/08/2007

The Road Ahead: From Content to Community

Today, Control isn’t just a U.S.-focused print magazine, but an increasingly global and interactive community.

12/10/2007

Building a 21st-Century Renaissance Engineer

By Creating a College from Scratch, We Can Approach Education in a Whole New Way That Will Best Serve the Engineers of the New Millennium

01/04/2008

Life on the Edge of the Idea Economy

Automation Professionals Will Be the Agents and Enablers of the Transition to an Economy Based on Ideas and Information

02/05/2008

A Measured Perspective

Measurement Can Be as Much a Challenge for Magazines as for the Process Industries.

03/07/2008