Photo by Keith Larson
PDO's Khalifa Aamri speaking at Emerson Exchange Americas 2022

Oman’s oil company integrates asset monitoring at more than 70 sites

Nov. 1, 2022
PDO's Integrated Operations Center (IOC) vision allows assets to collaborate on a centralized dashboard

Keeping track of what’s going on in one or a few nearby process plants is challenging enough. Doing the same for 75 facilities across an entire nation seems like pure fantasy. However, that’s exactly what Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) accomplished during its digitalization initiative over the past couple of years.

“We need to cover these sites because most are run by local operators during the day but run unmanned at night. The vision for our Integrated Operations Center (IOC) was getting all our assets to collaborate, so we needed a centralized dashboard that everyone could focus on,” said Khalifa Al Aamri, senior control and automation (C&A) engineer at PDO. “The challenge was each has different controls from different OEMs, such as Emerson, Schneider Electric, Yokogawa and Honeywell. They also have different protocols, such as HART, Foundation Fieldbus and others, and all this prevented predictive maintenance because we had no dashboard.”

Al Aamri and Jagannathan Malligeswaran, engineering manager at Emerson, presented PDO’s ambitious project at Emerson Exchange 2022.

Really wide area network

PDO produces most of the sultanate’s crude oil and natural gas, and works in an approximately 90,000-square-kilometer (km2) concession area, which is about one-third of Oman’s geographical area, and has 205 producing oil fields, 29 production stations and more than 8,400 active wells. It operates more than 33,000 km of pipelines and flow lines, as well as 231 operating units in its well-engineering fleet, including 49 rigs and 39 hoists.

These widespread operations are managed by the 75 control facilities, which are also scattered over northern and southern Oman. Their difficulties in working together are compounded by the fact that each has its own distributed control systems (DCS) with hosts from different suppliers. As part of its digitalization effort, PDO sought to develop a centralized instrument asset monitoring system (iAMS), connecting various iAMSs from all the sites, and located in the Center of Excellence (CoE) at its IOC in the capital of Muscat.

In the past, PDO used traditional condition monitoring equipment with assets connected at each site, but each of the 75 sites had a separate control room. Each component also had a different template, which meant about 45,000 templates for Emerson components and hundreds of thousands for all of PDO’s other devices.

Starting to cooperate

To get its sites to begin collaborating, PDO reported that it adopted a progressive, three-phase approach, starting with facilities that already had Emerson’s DeltaV DCS. The first phase was a proof-of-concept and pilot deployment at two less-critical sites with 4,500 devices each, which showed how their control rooms could share information and coordinate their efforts. The second phase is presently being worked on, and consists of deploying Emerson’s Plantweb Optics software at the 22 PDO sites with Emerson controls, and integrating this solution with the CoE. So far, 12 have been integrated, and the remaining 10 will be added soon. The upcoming third phase will expand this initial collaboration to all the sites with controls from different suppliers, and is expected to use MQTT networking.

“Unlike some highway and telephone utilities that don’t communicate, and have to dig up the same road twice, our projects have to go in as planned and on schedule, so we don’t have to seek additional funding. So, we start small and expand to make sure they’re done right,” says Malligeswaran. “PDO has a wonderful vision, but it’s a long journey, so it needs the design infrastructure that it developed.”

The characteristics and solution requirements for PDO’s cooperative iAMS include:

  • Centralized and system-agnostic;
  • Persona-based, key performance indictor (KPI) notifications;
  • Collaborative tool that supports remote monitoring and troubleshooting;
  • Intuitive user-interface experience;
  • Secure data transfers;
  • Leverage corporate authentication; and,
  • Scalability and flexibility.

“This a lot like building and furnishing a new house because iAMS also needs a base to build on—and that foundation is data. In this case, users must decide what information they need, gain visibility to their sensors and instruments, and gain access to that data,” explained Malligeswaran. “All digitalized applications like machine learning (ML) and business-level asset monitoring depend on this because it lets them do predictive maintenance and maintain their equipment properly.”

Adopting better optics

Malligeswaran reported that PDO settled on Plantweb Optics for its asset performance platform because it gathers data from the instrumentation, automation, maintenance and reliability departments at plants, and provides web-based, mobile dashboards; integration with other workflow integration software; provides persona-based content delivery; and enables connected services including augmented reality (AR). These capabilities give PDO:

  • Collaboration and improved workflows by enabling communication and driving closed-loop reliability;
  • Visualization and analysis with persona-based visualizations, notifications and analytical tools; and,
  • Connecting, collecting and contextualizing different data sources, and storing information for analysis and decision-making.

Malligeswaran added that Plantweb Optics consists of a centralized, persona-based dashboard that gives users a unified view of monitored processes, asset health and bad actors, as well as a message feed and task list for joining forces with other team members. In addition, Plantweb Optics maintains secure connectivity because its architecture allows only outbound communications with one configurable port across all asset source interfaces (ASIs). Its enhanced connector scalability works with multiple ASIs of the same type, and it supports data sources at multiple network levels with a proxy service for securely jumping network levels.

“These tools let users like PDO know where they stand, call in the maintenance team when needed, allow collaboration when notifications come in, and consult with remote experts on device response actions,” added Malligeswaran. “Likewise, the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) in Plantweb Optics lets user set required actions and check that they’ve been done.”

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.