Oil and gas digitizes, saves with EcoStruxure solutions

By Jim Montague

Aug 08, 2018

Is it possible to stay sane in a chaotic situation? You might say "no" if you'd been through all the recent upheavals experienced by upstream, midstream and downstream oil & gas producers in the U.S. and worldwide. However, you might say "yes" if you'd weathered these storms with better use of today's simpler digitalized optimization tools, and had a helpful partner like Schneider Electric to help implement them.

"The U.S. oil and gas market is growing rapidly after some recent downturns, with the Permian Basin alone expected to produce more than every OPEC member except for Saudi Arabia," said David Gaertner, vice president of Schneider's global petrochemical business. "This means all kinds of new pipelines and other equipment is needed, and the future looks bright for the U.S. oil and gas, petrochemical and chemical markets."

To help these and similar ventures get up and running, Gaertner reported the $100-billion industrial automation market has returned to 4% annual growth, while the younger Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market is undergoing about 8% annual growth. Gaertner and Janet Parker, product manager for control system simulations at AVEVA, majority-owned by Schneider, presented "EcoStruxure Plant—Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Solutions, Market Update & Digital Transformation" this week at the 2018 Foxboro User Group conference in San Antonio.

Profit Advisor deliverables

"Within EcoStruxure Plant, our Profit Advisor software performs historical data review and analysis, real-time performance indication, and profit planning," explained Gaertner. "It takes the available plant productivity data, deconstructs it into performance by individual applications and assets, and identifies where changes and improvements can be made. We also integrate high-level models, which include feedstocks, energy costs and the value of end products, which are primary indicators, too."

Gaertner reported that using Profit Advisor can generate 1-3% improvements in production value and 3-5% reductions in energy and material costs. These gains are typically made by:

  • Enabling effective business diagnostics of profit constraints;

  • Empowering workforces to learn how to drive operational profitability;

  • Making return on investment (ROI) of improvements measurable and visible; and,

  • Achieving repeatable and scalable time to value.

Training, simulation to the fore

Parker added that AVEVA recently helped a U.S.-based chemical company with global operations update the training program for its oxidation and distillation lines, and empower operators with dashboards developed and implemented on a EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, which enabled its operators to achieve energy savings of $5.4 million per year.

"They used to have a regular training room, but now it's all multipurpose, dynamic simulations of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS on the Microsoft Azure cloud service, which can be spun up for any number of users on their PCs or tablets," said Parker. "When we implemented these dynamic simulations for a greenfield olefins plant in Pennsylvania, we found that its instrument and pipe sizing might be wrong about three years before production is scheduled to begin, and now the user is investigating and may revise its design."

Likewise, the Total La Mède refinery in Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, France, was recently converted into a biorefinery and training center that can train 1,800 field and control room operators per year using a mix of hands-on and computer-based training. The project addressed three training requirements, including replacing its obsolete, generic training simulator; expanding training across the enterprise; and developing workforce competencies. As a result, Total also enlisted AVEVA to help in its digital transformation, and adopted its operator training simulator (OTS) solution in all its plants.

"We delivered several AVEVA modules to Total, and they're planning to train about 5,000 staffers in all," added Parker. "Schneider Electric bought AVEVA to enhance the whole value chain we can provide our customers, including comprehensive, closed-loop, digital asset lifecycle management and unified engineering."