An upgrade with no down time
With their objectives in mind, Underwoods undertook this project in collaboration with GSYS, a leading control and automation solutions specialist, to deliver custom-built containerised Control and Power Distribution centres to multiple sites in Venezuela which were processing over 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
These fully integrated power and control centres were housed in a number of bespoke 40ft shipping containers so they could be rapidly deployed on the customers site for immediate use to minimise production downtime. This was to avoid a significant loss in turnover as a result of production downtime because the oil refiner couldn’t afford to unnecessarily shut down any of its plants. For example, in 2018 the average price for a barrel of oil was valued at $71.17. Therefore, if the plant lost an entire days’ worth of production based upon the equipment changeover, they would lose an estimated total of $7.1m.
Each container suite included its own dedicated control room to monitor each of the plants overall activities, a comprehensive PLC room, a Main Switchgear room for power distribution purposes, and multiple Motor Control Centre (MCC) rooms. All container suites were fitted with independent process control systems that needed to quickly detect any faults which could result in a loss of production. Oil separation plants need to run like clockwork because even a slight dip in production can lead to a significant loss in profitability.
Ensuring the safety of each plant’s personnel and minimising each plant’s environmental impact were also crucial objectives of this project. To reliably protect people and conform to stringent environmental regulations, Underwoods and GSYS, configured an Emergency Shutdown System (ESD) so that a critical situation could be quickly defused and the plant would automatically shut down in the event of danger.
This formed part of the overall Fire and Gas System (F&GS) which monitors areas where a fire or a build-up of potentially flammable gasses may occur so that the oil refiner could meet its critical infrastructure protection requirements to immediately detect hazardous events, alert personnel and rapidly initiate the ESD to limit the consequences of a critical event. The F&GS can also play an important part in enabling the plant to quickly recover from abnormal situations to limit production downtime.