The first part of the session looked at BP’s use of Foundation Fieldbus (FF) in an onshore oil & gas production SCADA application in the U.S. state of Wyoming. They tested various suppliers systems and field devices in the harsh Canadian winter environment to compare the robustness of the various FF offerings. At each well site of eight wells, control was run in the FF devices, which in turn were connected, into their remote terminal units (RTUs). They saw immediate project savings in the wiring/installation labor/physical footprint savings. A key benefit they saw was remote diagnostics into these devices from a central location.
Next Suncor Firebag shared their Foundation fieldbus experiences. Suncor has standardized on Foundation fieldbus for all capital projects. Firebag has 9-10 billion barrels of reserves using today’s extraction technologies. The extraction efficiency is expected to increase over time and these known reserves will increase. Suncor documented commissioning savings of Foundation fieldbus versus conventional devices of one sixth of the time. The benefits cited included faster time to first oil, and instrumentation maintenance practices moved from preventive to predictive. This helps eliminate unnecessary maintenance and avoid unplanned shutdowns.
They are currently looking at applying the statistical processing from the high-speed history in the FF devices to detect flame flutter on furnace and boiler flames. Another application they are investigating again with this high-speed sampled data is early detection of water hammer conditions in piping. This condition can cause millions of dollars in damage to the pipes if it is unchecked.
Emerson’s Marcos Peluso gave a quick overview of the case for control in the field and robustness as measured by mean-time-between-failure. The key is the communications path is shorter when the control loop executes between a sensor and final control element than when it is between a sensor, automation system controller, and final control element. The loop can also execute with more certainty with the execution times of the fieldbus segment. Marcos indicated that the application should determine whether control is run in the automation system controller or in the FF device. There are strengths to each approach.
EnCana next presented how they could get gas compressor stations up and running more quickly with Foundation fieldbus devices than with conventional field devices. For their installations, all control was run in the field devices. This designed proved helpful in avoiding lost production when batteries did not hold their charge from solar panels. The remote terminal units and wireless network transmitters dropped out when the battery voltage dropped, but the FF devices kept running. Operators drove to site after they lost communications but found the compressors continuing to run with the loops fully in control. Overall, they we able to reduce operating expenses by linking together their remote compressor stations by centralizing the operators window into their decentralized control. Troubleshooting could be done remotely which reduced downtime.
Finally, Shell briefly shared their Foundation fieldbus experiences. While they agreed with the project savings others had experienced, they saw the biggest value in moving from preventive to proactive maintenance. They recommended this is where process manufacturers should spend the bulk of their planning efforts. This process often involves a cultural change so it takes time and quite a bit of planning and execution. Their approach is to have focused resources continually reviewing the diagnostics from intelligent field devices and performing maintenance based on this information. They cited savings in the millions of dollars from shifting to this approach.