Complex Hot Cutover of Large Natural Gas Processing Facilities
Due to facility siting factors, control rooms of one of the world’s largest natural gas (NG) processing and compression facilities were relocated from a possible blast zone to a Blast Resistant Modules (BRMs). This complex cutover for personnel relocation needed to be accomplished without a shutdown (S/D) of either interdependent ...
At the time it was built, the NG facility was the largest in the world. Some sections of piping are approximately 5 foot diameter and compression is achieved with enormous gas turbinesjet engines. The number of drawings, valves, wires, and control schemes that needed to be evaluated and understood was extensive and complex.
Additionally, the magnitude and complexity of migrating the controls was tremendous. Normal gas operation controls such as turbine controls, panel boards, and valve interfaces needed to be migrated, as well as process safety controls such as the Basic Process Control System (BPCS), safety systems, Fire & Gas (F&G) systems, Halon fire suppressant circuits, and Emergency Shutdown (ESD) circuits. Furthermore, the NG facility equipment spanned 50 years of modifications and many upgrades were needed to universalize and modernize the many generations of equipment, including digitalizing hardwired signals into a the BPCS and installing a new PLC-based BPCSHoneywell C300 control system.
Yet the biggest challenge was migrating the hard-wired emergency stop (E-stop) button from the old to new control room with minimal transition time and without a widespread outage. The circuit was designed fail-safe, meaning if the circuit opened up the relay, an activated emergency event could result in several effects: relieve gas pressure to flare, isolate system in place, or a plant S/D.
aeSolutions not only designed the new control room but took responsibility for all stages of the project, managing tasks from the conceptual and preliminary engineering to detailed design to managing on-site activity and personnel during the complex cutover. Specifically, aeSolutions:
• Developed detailed cutover procedures and checklists and an integration schedule that identified
specific people and detailed daily tasks for the next year for both NG facilities
• Performed a detailed option analysis to evaluate potential best solutions
• Analyzed every wire to understand what it does and temporary bypasses to be put into place;
maintained a well-documented log to track what had been completed
• Developed a contingency plan to guard against emergency events and mitigate risk of valve position
changing during cutover process for safety purposes
• Set up a local integration center, i.e., Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) lab, to convene equipment and
everyone involved; determined ways to install additional panels; designed, fabricated, and tested the
new control panels that were needed for the E-stops and F&G system and provided cabinets that were
needed; developed a scheme of transitioning existing terminations to new termination locations without
causing a S/D
• Managed on-site activities helping direct the cutover process while implementing the cutover plan,
including directing facility operators, engineers, support staff, construction, and even IT staff
aeSolutions’ role evolved from system integrator and helping move the control rooms to becoming the focal point of coordinating schedules and staffing and choreographing the entire cutover project. We developed an execution strategy and found ways to integrate multiple teams into the plan. The FAT lab particularly provided a tremendous benefit to establish how components worked, verify detailed FAT plans and test procedures, and develop methods to quickly (dis)connect test panels with everyone in the same room. This integration strategy saved time and travel costs to successfully cutover the controls on a NG operating plant without impact to production.
Industry: Natural Gas
Geography: Pacific Northwest
Unit Operation: Control Center, Compressed Gas Valves
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