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Integrated process, electrical control and safety system for Gullfaks oil platform in the North Sea

Enabling Integrated Operations (IO) through live upgrades

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Gullfaks A began production on December 22, 1986

Gullfaks B began production on February 29, 1988

Gullfaks C began production on November 4, 1989

When the Gullfaks platform went online in 1986, it featured ABB’s very first large-scale integrated Process Control and Safety System. Oil company owners StatoilHydro and ABB have since upgraded this solution in several planned steps necessary for Integrated Operations (IO).

Evolution optimizes safety and control

StatoilHydro signed a total EPCI contract with ABB in 2005 for upgrade of the control systems at Gullfaks A, B and C in the Norwegian North Sea. This contract was separate to the frame agreement ABB has with Statoil Hydro for ongoing modifications to installed control and safety systems. The main goals for the project have been to prepare Gullfaks with the automation technology, topology and competences necessary for Integrated Operations (IO) and to enable tail-end production through to 2030.

The most recent project included live (no shutdown) evolution of the existing Advant and Master control systems to System 800xA, plus a Fire and Gas (F&G) systems retrofit. In addition, System 800xA and HVAC as well as sequence, subsea and wellhead control were added. Wellhead, process and Emergency Shutdown (ESD) systems, fire and gas instrumentation, an information management system, generator control and a power management system are also now in place.

Main facts

Industry Oil, gas and petrochemicals
Customer StatoilHydro
Country North Sea
Solutions

System 800xA with

Advant Master control system evolution
Direct electrical heating system
Erosion management system

Three generations of ABB control systems

The three platforms in the Gullfaks field have been in successful production since the mid- to late-1980’s, when ABB installed the original control systems. Today, the field utilizes a combination of three generations of ABB control systems, including many of the original controllers installed over 30 years ago. Phasing out these first-generation controllers has been an important part of the upgrade project. To prepare Gullfaks for an extended lifetime through to 2030, another important goal has been to ensure that the total solution shall not limit the implementation of work processes, either offshore and onshore. In this way, strong focus has been placed on Integrated Operations (IO).

A comprehensive control system upgrade

The largest single task of the project has been the upgrade of the remaining MasterPiece 200/100 controllers at all three platforms, without causing disturbances in production. Local operation with push-buttons and indicators has been replaced by monitoring and control from a Central Control Room (CCR).

The HMI systems have all been upgraded from the ABB Avant to the new 800xA control system, comprising update of all operator- and large wall screen displays and installation of new network structures.

Upgrade of the Gullfaks process controls and workstations includes:

  • Upgrade 34 MasterPiece 200/1 and 250 MasterPiece 100 (DCM) to AC800M
  • Installation of approx. 10,000 I/O’s in existing cabinets
  • AdvaCommand Unix OS for process/safety to 800xA
  • Convert approx. 3300 faceplates/displays to 800xA
  • Implementation of new network infrastructure

Life Cycle Information (LCI)

More than 10,000 existing documents were updated or voided and around 30,000 tags were electronically updated according to StatoilHydro’s requirements for Life Cycle Information. A database was developed to track status of all affected documents and register information throughout the project. This database is linked to StatoilHydro’s STID for electronic information exchange.

The work processes and database tools for LCI updates were developed during the project, ensuring a high-quality, on-time LCI delivery with tremendous cost savings compared to traditional LCI deliveries.
The work processes and database tools ensure a high-quality, on-time LCI delivery with tremendous cost savings compared to traditional LCI deliveries

Integration of wireless gas detectors

ABB has integrated signals from the wireless gas detection system to the ABB AC 800M controller to display status messages and alarms in the control room interface.

The advantages of a wireless vs. wired system are quickly apparent. The time needed for installation, integration and commissioning of the system was a fraction of what has been the norm for wired systems and shows one of the many advantages of implementing wireless detection.

Response time and accuracy are comparable to wired systems. Wireless gas detection offers further advantages compared to wired solutions:

  • Easier and more flexible installation (no cables, no junction boxes, no barriers, no cross wiring)
  • Simplified engineering and documentation
  • Minimum overall 70% cost reduction
  • Easy expansion using more detectors without pulling new cables
ABB has integrated signals from the wireless gas detection system to the ABB AC 800M controller to display status messages and alarms in the control room interface.

Direct electrical heating

ABB Direct electrical heating (DEH) system provide a reliable solution for preventing formation of hydrate and wax in the flowlines and pipelines. The DEH system is based on ABB‘s proven and reliable standard components. ABB has over the last 30 years successfully designed, manufactured and implemented a large number of electrical systems to the oil & gas industry. ABB offers system solutions, products and services for the entire field of electro-technical installations.

ABB provides DEH solution to Statoil‘s Gullfaks A platform. All electrical and control products conform to international standard, from transformer to output cable connection. In addition, ABB is responsible for design and in-house engineering.

ABB Relion® family provides protection, monitoring and control of the DEH system.Relion IEDs implement the core values of the IEC 61850 standard. These products interoperate with other IEC 61850-compliant IEDs, tools and systems, including to transfer parameters and event lists to the ICSS through IEC61850 or alternative Modbus TCP/IP. 670 and 615 series IEDs include high performance GOOSE messaging. It is also possible to transfer all necessary information to the main control system with time-stamping.


ABB DEH system provides a reliable solution for preventing formation of hydrate and wax in the flowlines and pipelines.

Erosion Management System

Increasing sand production is a common problem in maturing fields, resulting from declining reservoir pressure and increasing amounts of water. Sand production has an impact on both production and safety, because sand causes erosion of production equipment. In some cases, increasing sand production triggers premature shut down of production wells.

Statoil has more than 400 sand producing wells in the North Sea. The sand producing reservoirs with the lowest formation strength are located in the Gullfaks field. (The reservoir rock disintegrates when it is squeezed between the fingers). As a result, Gullfaks was the first field to systematically enhance sand management through investments in knowledge and technology.

Cooperation between Statoil and DNV was established, and a systematic review of the erosion phenomena was conducted. The major break-through of the sand management project reached surface in 2001, which made it possible for Statoil to control the oil production according to an Acceptable Sand Rate (ASR) instead of a Maximum Sand free Rate (MSR). As a direct consequence, the oil production from the Gullfaks field has increased.

The Insight - Erosion Management System software (ABB) was installed on the Gullfaks field, and is today keeping track of the actual wall thickness reduction due to the sand production in chokes and other erosion nodes. Besides from an increased production and improved safety situation, the software provides an economical gain due to condition based inspection and maintenance operation. Based on the experiences from the Gullfaks field, the system is now also in operation on the Statfjord field, which has seem similar results (SPE 94511)
Besides an increased production and improved safety situation, ABB software provides an economical gain due to condition based inspection and maintenance operation

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