Implementing DeltaV Systems in Large Greenfield Projects

by | May 14, 2024 | Event, Oil & Gas | 0 comments

At the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024 in Düsseldorf, David Mason from BP described how the company has recently implemented two large-scale greenfield projects and incorporated the latest DeltaV™ automation platform technologies to reduce project costs and time, and deliver a high-quality product. The presentation, which won the award for most innovative application for projects at the event, described the technologies deployed, how they were designed and implemented, the benefits gained, and the lessons learned for future projects.

Two large-scale projects

The Azeri Central East (ACE) development is a new offshore platform located in the Azeri Chirag Gunashli field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. The platform is designed to use technology innovations and automated operation systems that will be controlled remotely from an onshore control room at the Sangachal terminal. Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA), located at the Mauritania and Senegal border, will produce gas from an ultra-deep-water subsea production system. The gas will be processed in the mid-water by a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, then exported through a pipeline to the inshore hub/terminal consisting of a floating liquefied natural gas facility.

Emerson was selected to be the main automation contractor for both projects, with a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract agreed between BP and Emerson. Both projects had similar timescales for the definition and execution elements. The two companies worked jointly to develop a common software library and evaluate and adopt value-adding technologies.

Selecting technology during FEED

During FEED, automation technologies were evaluated through rigorous readiness studies. Technologies were considered based on their obsolescence risks, the value they add, risk mitigation and lifecycle implications. A review of the available technologies was made before final selection took place. This looked at the benefits and what needed to be done to achieve them. The risks involved were considered, as well as whether any associated workflow processes might need to be modified, e.g. testing/commissioning.

Once a selection was made, plans were developed and specific building blocks were designed based on the selected technology, including cabinet design, module libraries and graphical elements. At this point, BP company standards were reviewed to ensure they aligned with the latest technology. Mason stated it is important that all stakeholders including project teams, site commissioning teams, operations, maintenance and reliability and central engineering teams were involved in the decisions, so there were no surprises later.

Solutions deployed

Emerson’s DeltaV distributed control system provides control of production and safety functions for both the ACE and GTA projects. DeltaV Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs (characterization modules) technology was also selected. CHARMs eliminate marshalling, help reduce schedule and risk, and provide a highly flexible solution that enables late changes to be made without impacting the project timeline. During FEED it was decided that electronic marshalling for both control and safety systems would be deployed, and I/O would be moved into the field using smart junction boxes. There were several benefits to this approach, notably a reduction in costs. This was achieved through a significant reduction in `home run’ (field junction boxes to the local equipment room (LER)) cables and terminations.

Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs helps reduce the ICSS cabinet footprint, and simplifies hardware testing, field design and documentation approval.

A reduction in the integrated control and safety system (ICSS) cabinet footprint created space in the LER, providing room for future system growth. Also, less equipment in the LER reduces the total load on the heat, ventilation and air conditioning. Because CHARMS have a standardized design, this decoupled software/hardware testing and minimized the scope of the hardware testing. It also reduced the number of ICSS cabinet drawings that had to be reviewed. The overall field design was simplified because field instruments are connected directly to the field junction boxes. Termination diagrams replace conventional loop diagrams, thus significantly reducing the deliverable scope from the EPC. Utilizing a standard design means quicker production and document approval.

Lessons learned

Mason described some of the key lessons learned. Firstly, you should involve other stakeholders, like maintenance, when considering the design. He suggested getting hold of an actual example cabinet so that everyone can see it and understand how they are going to use it. Consider the locations and perform a risk assessment. For junction boxes in exposed locations, make provision for shelter, flare shields and sunshades to protect the contents. Consider the orientation (prevailing wind/rain) for exposed locations, vibration and potential water exposure. Reserve enough space and ensure there will be access. Mason noted that CHARMs field junction boxes from Emerson are suitable for installation in Zone 2 hazardous areas.

Virtual testing

Virtual factory acceptance testing (FAT) is performed using virtualized controllers and networks instead of physical hardware. This is achieved by creating software versions of the hardware and then running the project code on that software. BP had used virtual FAT for DCS on previous projects and brownfield modifications, but not for safety systems.

Each greenfield project had planned to utilize virtual FATs and have Emerson, EPC and BP engineering teams co-located in Leicester, UK. COVID restrictions meant that was not possible, so they transitioned to remote FAT. This involved sharing DeltaV screens and the need for another platform to share documents, audio etc.

Mason outlined a number of benefits to virtual and remote FAT. Virtual FAT enables automated scripts (e.g. shutdown tests/results), de-linked software and hardware, and reduced staging and logistics costs (equipment could be shipped directly to site). Virtual FAT enabled the remote FAT, which subsequently saved time and removed the need for people to travel and be away for an extended period. It also enabled easier and wider collaboration. Fault rectification performed by Emerson engineers did not impact testing because work could be done by engineers in a different time zone. Finally, remote FAT allowed a much greater focus on negative and unstructured testing.

Lessons learned

With a virtual FAT, some software revisions are required, because the logic solver cyclic redundancy checks of the virtual test to field upload do not match. You need to create a hardware scope that includes digital security. Consider the user and testing requirements. Perform a risk-based review of what to virtualize or not and whether to type test. Back-up and recovery are other important considerations. You also need to plan the move to site, considering network integration, hardware and software integration, necessary firmware and software updates, while allowing for additional time and personnel. Carefully consider the loading, because emulation currently cannot define final loading.

Setting up field devices

Traditionally, field devices are either supplied preconfigured or are configured on-site during commissioning. The preconfigured option may not be possible because detailed information is not always known when orders are placed. It is also difficult to handle changes. On-site configuration takes time, resources are not always available, and often just the bare minimum configuration is performed to allow start-up. Smart devices with diagnostics are typically specified. Setting up diagnostics has historically been inconsistent, with engineering assuming that the commissioning team would manage standardization. Once set up, it can be difficult to resolve issues due to schedule and operational requirements. The result is that device diagnostics are often not fully set up for several years, which leads to alert floods.

Smart Commissioning

Smart commissioning is a technology-enabled process that streamlines commissioning. Using AMS Device Manager from Emerson, field devices are identified by their tag, and using a template created for specific instances, the device is configured automatically. That includes automatic binding to the control or safety logic. The device is checked, configuration downloaded, tested and the process documented. This ensures that devices are fully set up ready for the operational phase without impacting the site schedule. A standardized implementation of instrumentation reduces the need for repeat testing and iterations of settings.


Mason explained that type testing is valuable but has a time overhead. That needs to start as early as possible and therefore device selection needs to be done early in the project schedule. There needs to be an upfront analysis of the device vendor’s commissioning process to adjust methods to fit into smart commissioning. Digital security needs to be carefully considered, with user logins created for smart commissioning, management of lock/unlock status and module check out management. For smart commissioning to run, all associated and connected modules need to be checked out. Review the number of commissioning screens required and consider a division of responsibility for smart commissioning and site team training requirements.

The HTML5 scalable graphics of DeltaV Live allows use on different sized screens without the need to create alternative versions of the operator interfaces.

Operator user interface

Emerson’s DeltaV Live provides the user interfaces for both BP projects. DeltaV Live offers a modern, built-for-purpose operations experience/interface. The technology supports HTML5 graphics, that can be used across different platforms and is the graphics technology of choice for the foreseeable future. This supports scalable graphics, which means that you do not need to create different versions for the different screen sizes (e.g., large wall-mounted screen in the control room). It is very easy to create graphical elements (GEMs), DeltaV Live’s equivalent of Dynamos, using Graphics Studio.

Mason said that if you are upgrading from DeltaV Operate to DeltaV Live, you should consider the upgrade path through tools or using the DeltaV PCSD (PMO Configuration Standard) library. Operations and commissioning should both be involved in the development as there are some functionality differences from DeltaV Operate. You may want to consider creating a graphics philosophy in line with DeltaV Live functionality. The resolution is vastly improved from DeltaV Operate, enabling larger displays to be specified.




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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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