Installing a wireless hart

December 15, 2017

When design-to-first-oil takes 10 years, keeping up with communication technology can be a challenge. Elaine Maslin details what BP has done for its latest North Sea projects (originally published in OE's December 2017 issue).

With new technologies appearing all the time, it’s a job to keep up. BP’s Steve Cottam is doing his best to do just that, however. Cottam is Clair Ridge project lead, instrument and control engineer for BP. Clair Ridge (pictured in construction, right) is the second phase of the Clair field, with first oil planned for early summer 2018, via a new fi xed facility able to produce some 120,000 b/d.

The facility has been designed for a 40-year life and BP wants it to be in the top quartile for production effi ciency, Cottam says. Part of the plan is connectivity and the same plan has been applied to the new Glen Lyon floating production (FPSO) vessel, BP’s replacement for the Schiehallion FPSO, as part of its Quad 204 redevelopment. Glen Lyon came onstream in May 2017 with 100,000 b/d production planned. 

Design work on these projects started in 2008, the year the iPhone 3G came out, Cottam says. It’s nearly 10 years from design work starting to first production, and the plan is to make it work for 40 years – that’s the challenge. Both Clair Ridge and Glen Lyon are fiber-connected with wireless infrastructure on board. All the instrumentation is smart, with some 50,000 data points on Clair Ridge, and more on Glen Lyon, Cottam says. The data is sent onshore for long-term historization. Onshore, there is also a full facility operator training simulator with dynamic simulation, and a 3D PDMS model.

Offshore, the wireless infrastructure is based on hazardous and non-hazardous areas, with an instrumentation level WirelessHart, linking into process control systems, and a second separate wireless network. WirelessHART is wireless based on the Highway Addressable Remote Transducer Protocol (HART), which was developed as a multi-vendor, interoperable wireless standard, enabling secure, remote access for vendors to support their equipment. “This is huge for our drilling vendors,” says Cottam, who was speaking at the Censis and Oil & Gas Innovation Centre joint event, Internet of Things goes Offshore, in Aberdeen early October. 

On Clair Ridge, there are 125 wireless internet gateways across the plant, with good wireless coverage across the facility, Cottam says. This means staff out on the plant can connect on the spot with an advanced collaborative environment (ACE) at office, but also to experts – where ever they might be. “This is now standard for BP,” Cottam says. With the advent of 4G LTE, which could also be used for connectivity within the platform, there now further options, Cottam suggests. 

Enabling this world isn’t just about hardware, however, Cottam says. As well as the ACE, there’s a functional support BP’s Clair Ridge facilities, during installation in 2015. Photos from BP. PRODUCTION organization, standard maintenance procedures, an onshore team monitoring plant and maintenance performance, dashboards, KPIs, trending, online engineering calculations, etc.

As well as applying these technologies to its latest facilities, BP is looking at installing wireless networks on existing facilities, including its oldest. “We need to move from reactive to predictive, onshore and offshore,” says Cottam, from automated analysis of heater exchangers, predicting failure, to comparison of rotating equipment performance across assets – “focusing on the problem and not symptoms, as previously.” 

Image: The Glen Lyon. Image from FPSO.

Having the network on older facilities means wireless instrumentation can be deployed, such as wireless corrosion instrumentation, which can be clamped or glued on existing facilities, he says. 

Looking ahead, event monitoring, and early warnings can be enabled and then the knowledge captured and shared, he says. As this revolution kicks in, BP will be looking to incorporate more use of ATEX approved portable devices offshore, for inspections, material tracking, all improving “wrench time,” as well as non-intrusive, quick deploy wireless instrumentation. Tracking personal outside the cabins would also help account for staff in the event of a muster event, instead of having to search for someone across the plant (when it can take 20 minutes just to walk from the control room to the furthest part of the plant). 

Such a world could prove problematic for staff – who would have to carry PDAs, a gas detector, tough book, radio, tools, etc. Instead, Cottam suggests that workforce clothing could incorporate much of these devices, i.e. introduce wearables. The gas detector would be incorporated in the suit, radio in the helmet, etc. 

But, it would also enable the likes of augmented video conferencing out on the plant, where an onshore expert can draw over the fi eld technician’s field of view or show them a step by step procedure. Meanwhile low-power, low-cost smart sensing feeds cloud analytics, which support cognitive automated alerts. Onshore staff will be able to access interactive 3D models, containing process data, P&IDs and maintenance routines, all in one place. But, Cottam warns, there are “soft issues,” such as staff use of social media during an incident, or use of non-certified devices, if a mobile network is in range of plant, and offshore work force buy-in. “We used to design these facilities on paper,” he reflects.