Apr 22

Honeywell Posts First Quarter Financials

With Honeywell User Group just around the corner, the company has posted its first quarter financials.  The Automation and Controls Solutions business saw revenues increase by 8 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.  Services and software sales are up for the Process Solutions business.

Honeywell First Quarter Results


Apr 22

New Release of ABB 800xa Process Automation System

Earlier this month ABB announced version 6 of its 800xa process automation system.  The new release includes some interesting new features and some new ways to support control system upgrades for systems supporting WindowsXP and cyber security (advanced access control, digital code signing, whitelisting, and more).  The latest release also features some interesting new ways to analyze KPIs and visualize performance data in the plant.  The system also supports new features for integration of electrical and telecoms, which is a strategic push for ABB and has long been one of the company’s strengths.  ABB is planning on a World Control Tour that will cover 9 different locations worldwide to promote the new release starting in Spring of 2014.

 ABB’s new release of System 800xA enhances security, supports upgrades on older platforms like Windows XP operating system


Apr 21

Statoil’s Vision of the Subsea Factory

One of the leading trends in automation for upstream oil and gas is the migration of production operations to the sea floor.  As offshore oil production moves into harsher environments and more remote locations, it makes a lot of sense to take many of the processes that were once done on offshore platforms and just place them on the sea floor.  Statoil is one company that is striving to make their “factory on the sea floor” concept a full blown reality by 2020.  On their web site dedicated to the subsea factory  concept, Statoil states that they believe that “compact separation facilities on the seabed will be the key to success in arctic or deepwater areas like the Gulf of Mexico or Brazil”.  The Statoil site has many good articles and links on this concept and ARC will continue to follow Subsea Factory issues, specifically as they relate to the world of process automation.

Here also is a good article from GE Global Research on providing reliable power sources for said factories.

Statoil: The Subsea Factory

GE: A new Underwater Power Source for the Subsea Factory


Apr 21

ABB Wins $175 Million Power/Oil and Gas Project in Arabian Gulf

ABB is a leading supplier of process automation to both the oil and gas and power generation industries.  In this most recent project, the company has leveraged its strength in oil and gas project execution to win a project for expanding the power generation capacity of Zirku oil and gas processing facilities in the Arabian Gulf for Zakum Development Company (ZADCO).  From the press release:

The project involves the installation of additional power generation facilities to improve overall energy efficiency and operational flexibility and reliability. ZADCO plans to increase the production rate of the Upper Zakum field from 550,000 to 750,000 barrels of oil per day. The Zakum field is estimated to be the second-largest field in the Gulf and the fourth-largest in the world.



Apr 21

More Keystone XL Delays

The Keystone XL Pipeline project looks like it is headed for even more delays as this Reuters report indicates.  Most thought we would be headed for a decision mid-year but the US government has given agencies several more months to comment on the proposal.  According to the article:

…the State Department said on Friday it was extending that agency comment period, citing a need to wait until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over what path the $5.4 billion TransCanada Corp project should take.

That means we will not have a decision on the fate of the pipeline until after the mid term elections in November.  The Keystone XL pipeline extension will bring Canadian oil to Houston refineries.  It will bring billions of dollars of investment and many thousands of jobs to the United States.  Is the delay a political move or is it born of a genuine environmental concern?  Meanwhile, the future of United States energy security hangs in the balance.  I would be interested in your comments.

Keystone Pipeline Proposed Route

Keystone Pipeline Proposed Route


Apr 11

FDT/FDI News from Hanover Fair

Reports are coming in from Hanover Fair.  Our senior analyst Harry Forbes provides the following regarding FDT and FDI.  For those that don’t know, FDI rationalizes elements of FDT and EDDL to create a single device package and host for intelligent devices running on Foundation Fieldbus, HART, and Profibus

At the Hannover Fair, FDT Group gave a device management demonstration showing how the future FDI device packages can be integrated into the FDT standard.  Codewrights (an FDT member company) demonstrated an FDT frame application using an “iDTM”.  An iDTM is a DTM which supports communication with the upcoming standard FDI Device Packages (see the figure).  In addition, FDT announced communications support for the ISA100 wireless standard and the IO-Link network.

Too many acronyms there?  Sorry.  Let’s try the English language instead.  The management of field devices is a chronic pain point in process manufacturing.  Large process plants will have thousands or even tens of thousands of field devices. The usual practice is to manage these devices at a process unit level and (sometimes) on a plant level.  Wider integration of device diagnostic data and enterprise-wide application of device best practices thus becomes very difficult.  Technology from the FDI Cooperation will soon define a common model for device management for the three networks that now dominate process field devices; HART, Foundation Fieldbus, and Profibus PA. The FDT demonstration showed that FDT device management applications will be able to use these new and standardized device deliverables. In addition, FDT supports a variety of other device networks, many of which are more common in factory automation, and several industrial Ethernet protocols as well.  Some of the more popular networks that FDT supports are CC Link, DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, SERCOS, and EtherCAT.

Someday manufacturers may monitor and manage their field devices with the same level of automation that is now employed for IT infrastructure by leading practitioners.  That vision is going to take a long time, but FDT’s support for both new and existing device technologies and networks will help with that journey.


Apr 07

SPE Intelligent Energy 2014 – Drilling Deeper: Data-Driven Modeling and Improving Risk Perception

Here is the third installment from our senior analyst Valentijn de Leeuw from SPE Intelligent Energy 2014:

In this blog I report on a few more technical contributions during the conference.  This will only give a flavor of the many more interesting presentations.

A vision for making drilling more efficient

In his comments during the Conference’s opening sessions, Halvor Kjørholt of Statoil, stated that “drilling safety and ability has improved, but not its efficiency”. As drilling corresponds half the cost of an oil field development and operation, making drilling more efficient will therefor significantly impact the total cost.  In addition, the quality of drilling has [amongst other methods] most impact on recovery. Kjørholt formulated are the following aspirations for developments in drilling and well technology

  • Real time well diagnostics: high-level real-time data and trends, including self-calibration, should indicate opportunities for improvement
  • Drilling sequence automation: control technology to run sequences of drilling processes in autonomous mode (instead of manual).
  • Downhole pressure control. This exists as a service but should be more integrated in drilling control.  The accuracy should be improved as well as the ability to detect small and flows. The technology should detect events in early stages.
  • Robot drill floor solutions to replace today’s manned by reliable unmanned intervention. situation.  Robots should communicate and organize themselves (As aimed at by Industrial Internet of Things)
  • Making the well as it is drilled. Ability to steer and log while drilling, and placing casing or liner. Compete the section in one run including cementing.
  • Real-time reservoir navigation using a ‘deep’ 3D image with the capability to ‘looking around in the reservoir, to better place the wells.

Kjorholt closed by emphasizing the need for competencies and operational readiness, to apply these technologies successfully.

Data-driven modeling and optimization using Real-Time Data

E. Ziegel explained that his team created a data-driven decision support model of a reservoir that is never in steady-state because of gas breakthroughs related to the proximity of the gas layer and the well holes.  A mechanistic modeling approach would fail in these situations.  The team made an algorithm that connected a series of models representing historical behavior: a reservoir pressure model as a function of depth and location, a coning model predicting gas breakthrough, and a flow rate model.  The composite model was fitted against real-time dynamic data from well tests and showed good predictive capabilities.  The author speculated, that if similar models were created for all wells, reservoir planning would become feasible.  His final remark was his regret to retire soon and miss the upcoming exciting developments!

Creating a Common Understanding Of Risk Among Teams in Integrated Operations

Claire Taylor of the Norwegian Institute of for Energy Technology reviewed a number of major accidents in Oil, Gas and Refining, that all pointed to lack of leadership, failing create organizations with an effective ‘safety culture’.  Amongst others, members in those organizations trust each other and communicate openly, also if it concerns bad news or unexpected risks, and are therefore more effective in identifying, and preventing risk, and making decisions and acting effectively when incidents or accidents happen.  When on-shore engineers with little field experience do upfront risk analysis, and off-shore personnel with little risk management training modify and execute operational and maintenance tasks, and when in addition they are part of different companies, the integrated operation’s leaders’  task in creating this culture is not easy.  Ms Taylor showed a tool, IO-MAP, that geographically maps the activities on each floor of an asset, including their risk levels and statuses.  The tool could be used for operations and maintenance planning purposes; to focus attention of local and remote teams, create oversight and show possible interactions between activities.  We agree the tool can help facilitating the leader’s task in improving communications.  The tool can also very well complement other shift handover and permit management tools.




Apr 04

Yokogawa Receives Orders for Coal/Oil Co-processing Pilot Plant and Coal Tar Hydrogenation Plant Projects

Yokogawa has announced a project win for some interesting new oil projects in China.  Both use coal to oil conversion processes.  One makes oil from coal and another uses coal tar.  The project is with Yanchang Petroleum, and here’s an interesting bit about the coal tar hydrogenation process (or an example of one anyway).

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced that its subsidiary, Yokogawa China Co., Ltd., has received orders from Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co., Ltd.* (Yanchang Petro) to supply Yokogawa control systems for two groundbreaking oil plant construction projects in China. Both of these plants will employ KBR’s Veba Combi-Cracking (VCC) process, an advanced technology that is capable of converting petroleum residues into high quality gasoline and diesel oil products.

You can read the whole story here at the Yokogawa web page.


Apr 04

Chevron-Phillips Announces new 1.5mm tpy Ethane Cracker in Baytown, TX

From a story in Process Worldwide, you can also access the Chevron Phillips news release here.  Chevron-Phillips has announced that it has broken ground on its U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) Petrochemicals Project at the Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas.  This is a significant project for the US market and includes a 1.5 million tonnes per year Ethane cracker.  The EPC phase of the project is to be executed by a joint venture between JGC and Fluor.


Apr 04

SPE Intelligent Energy 2014: Intelligent Energy for Dummies

Another report from Valentijn de Leeuw who attended the SPE Intelligent Energy show in Utrecht recently:

Intelligent Energy has been defined since its inception as a combination of social and technical components, and this seems completely natural to the participants of the conference. Comparing to conferences in other industry sectors such as the process or the discrete industries, it is quite refreshing to see teamwork, collaborative work environment, change management and leadership discussed next to environmental and safety, and highly sophisticated 4D seismic, simulation and real-time process control. It makes perfect sense, since social sciences have evidence that best practices in managing individuals, teams and organizations have positive impact on business results. And indeed, the testimonials from managers of oil majors speaking at the conference confirm this.

Intelligent energy is a better term than “digital oil field” or “smart field” we find. Field of the Future, is also a good term, since all these terms have a similar width in scope, ranging from technical to human aspects.
As my mind requests more clarity, I wanted to know which components make up Intelligent Energy. The fundamental concept is to make oil and gas recovery more efficient and profitable, by using state-of-the art technologies.

Since one or more operators work simultaneously with many contractors, but in exploration and production, and more and more in “Integrated operations” the possible number of relationships and interactions can easily get out of hand. In addition, multiple disciplines need to interpret more and more abundant real-time and static data, using more and more specialized skills and as a result there are a multitude of opportunities for misunderstandings. Indeed, recent disasters have shown how critical communication and interpretation of information can be. Therefore collaborative work environment, effective communication and teamwork became built into Intelligent Energy from the beginning. It was also recognized that process safety, occupational heath and safety, and environmental footprint need to be improved not only by technical measures and clear rules, but in conjunction with behavioral changes stimulated by management leadership.

Components of Intelligent Energy:
Technical components:

  • Reservoir information (seismic, gravity, electromagnetic, geodesy)
  • Real-time data from the drilling operation and (automated) drilling process control
  • Real-time data from the well (down-hole and at the surface: temperature, pressure and flow) and (automated) production process control (for example slug control or gas breakthrough control)
  • Real-time information from surface facilities (pipeline monitoring, flow and flow quality, rotating equipment)
  • Operational decision support (technologies ranging from real-time data visualization, to decision support where to drill or inject and how to control flows for optimal depletion)
  • Surveillance (real-time reservoir and process data, optical information, seismic information)
  • Environmental monitoring (water, air and soil quality monitoring) and exposure monitoring

Human components:

  • (Virtual) teamwork and collaboration
  • Fast and high quality decision making by multi-party multi-disciplinary teams
  • (Sustained) support for changing activities, processes, use of technologies and behavior
  • Project screening, configuration and management

The components have the following enablers:

Smart sensors and smart devices

  • Industrial mobility (explosion save handheld and mobile devices for field operations)
  • Robotics, drones
  • Video and voice
  • Modeling and simulation, (reservoir, process, 3D equipment), augmented reality
  • Cyber security, Cloud computing, Big Data (mining) and real-time analytics (data driven operation)
  • Fiber optic cable, Radio and Satellite transmission, Industrial Internet of Things
  • Automated and manual processes design, process interactions, optimization and performance management
  • Maturity models, strategy and governance
  • Leadership
  • Skills and resource management
  • Collaborative work environment

And just when I thought I had a handle on it, I attended presentations about maturity modeling of Intelligent Energy and understood that defining mature Intelligent Energy is a moving target. As a result, the list of components will be extended over time, along with changing priorities, technologies and capabilities.


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