Automated oil transfer solution copes with freezing conditions

15 November 2010

LUKOIL's Varandey terminal handles the export of commercial crude oil produced in the Timano-Pechora oil province in the north of Russia's European Region.

The Varandey terminal is designed to operate at full capacity even under extreme weather conditions
The Varandey terminal is designed to operate at full capacity even under extreme weather conditions

To allow for increased exports to Western Europe and North America, LUKOIL expanded the terminal's onshore tank farm to a capacity of 325,000 cubic metres and added two 25km underwater pipelines, as well as an ice-resistant fixed offshore terminal where the oil is loaded onto tanker ships. Throughput capacity of the new terminal is 12 million metric tons per year, and it is able to operate at full capacity all year round, even under extreme weather conditions.

The automation solution for the oil transfer system is designed and supplied by Emerson is based on PlantWeb digital plant architecture. The company supplied the control system, software, and vibration monitoring instrumentation, as well as system design and start-up services. The integrated solution enables control of terminal operations at each stage of the process, from oil receipt at the tank farm to managing pumping through the underwater pipeline, and includes the systems for monitoring and detecting leaks in the pipeline. The architecture's openness also enables it to control other subsystems supplied by other companies.

The architecture includes DeltaV digital automation system, AMS Suite software, Rosemount smart measurement instrumentation, and Fisher control valves and other control equipment. HART, Modbus and FOUNDATION fieldbus communication protocols enable the DeltaV system to combine more than 6000 signals from more than 700 measurement instruments, including temperature, pressure, and level transmitters, flowmeters and vibration sensors. The system also manages final control elements such as control valves, as well as information from external control subsystems.

The far-northern location of the terminal requires that the oil transfer system operates in extreme weather conditions – including air temperatures down to -44°С, storm winds, waves up to 5m high, and ice build-up that can reach 170cm thick. Commenting on these arduous operating conditions, Johan Vanderplaetse, Emerson Process Management's vice president for CIS and Turkey, said: "The high reliability and broad functionality of Emerson's control system and field devices were crucial factors in LUKOIL's choice of a supplier. The PlantWeb architecture also enables terminal operators to detect errors and predict failures without having to go to a potentially unsafe area of the site. Diagnostic information from the measurement instrumentation and control valves helps ensure efficient processes and problem-free operation."

Implementation of these automation technologies at the Varandey terminal has also helped LUKOIL to improve environmental safety and to optimise workloads for operating personnel. The project also will allow LUKOIL to reduce operating costs, energy use, and process losses of material and equipment.

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