There can be benefits to designing power systems and process systems in parallel, rather than doing the process systems first and then adding power as required, as it has been done until now, says Schneider Electric.
Up to now, offshore plants have been largely designed on the assumption that power could be made available as required. Platforms were often built with more electricity generation than they needed in normal operations, just to handle a possible peak load.
But the emphasis on decarbonization, as well as carbon pricing, is making a different approach make more sense, where power systems are designed alongside process systems, with a view to a design which does not require so much power, says Eric Koenig, Vice President Strategy for Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals with Schneider Electric.
Process systems are about the flows of the gases and liquids around the plant, and how they are processed, for example cleaned, separated or dehydrated. They need power for heating, pumping and compression.
There can be big CAPEX and OPEX savings in reducing the maximum load which the generator needs to be able to provide, he says.
The power requirement of a refinery can be as much as 100MW, equivalent to a city of 50,000 people.
Reducing the power generation requirement by a couple of megawatts can mean big changes in capital and operational expenditure.
Perhaps savings of up to 20 per cent are possible on capital costs of the overall electrical package of a typical plant, he says.
There are savings multipliers. Every kg of weight which does not have to be installed on an offshore platform means saving 7kg of platform structure to support it. Every square metre on the deck of an FPSO costs about 40,000 Euros to construct – so there are big savings from having an electrical package which requires less space.
Different project approach
If companies want to design process and power systems in parallel, they may need to change the way they execute projects, he says.
Combining process and power design may mean a change to the way oil companies execute projects.
They may need to take more time on the upfront design – which is hard to do when there is pressure to get to first oil as quickly as possible.
The asset performance management systems have traditionally been quite siloed, for example a system to manage a distillation column. But for better energy savings we need to move to a more holistic and integrated approach, where you can see all aspects of the plant at once, including both power and process.
An integrated approach can also make the whole project run faster. An example is Egypt’s Zohr project, getting a gas field into production in 18 months, where the industry norm was more like five, Mr Koenig says.
Schneider Electric supplied both the integrated control and safety system (ICSS) and the electric package for Zohr.
Another factor in efficient operation of power and process systems is monitoring – how well people understand what is going on – and if they have an integrated view.
Consider the sophisticated monitoring systems routinely installed on aircraft engines. Nobody would consider flying on a plane without them, says Koenig.
A good monitoring system would also include any information necessary to make fixes within the software, so there would be no need to access manuals.
On an ongoing basis, having a more integrated view of what is happening can mean the capacity to reduce energy consumption by 5-7 per cent.
A simpler, better managed system can mean a 15 per cent reduction in downtime – or typically 4 days downtime a year rather than 5, at a cost of $1m a day, he says.
An impressive example of integrating data is a project Schneider Electric and AVEVA did for an oil company in Abu Dhabi. It built a screen 150 feet long and 10 feet high, and is set to eventually integrate millions of information points, with data being shown from ‘half a million’ different points at the moment, with calculations such as the dollar value of different flows and outages. So, you can see your losses in terms of dollars per minute. It includes tools for operations staff and tools for executives.
Customers are increasingly making demands such as ‘I want any operator to solve any issue in 20 minutes, otherwise I have to stop the plant for a day,’ he says.
This drives a need for better integration of the various systems.
Schneider Electric merged its industrial software business with AVEVA, an industrial design and engineering software company, in March 2018. This means that AVEVA tools can be brought in to help manage electrical systems like those by Schneider Electric, together with process engineering software from AVEVA.
Schneider has a white paper on its website with more on these ideas which you can find by Googling ‘integrated process and power white paper’.
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