System 800xA for the world’s first coal seam gas to LNG project

Integrated process, safety and power automation for remote operation & more production efficiency


How ABB’s technology helped bring BG Group’s revolutionary coal seam gas to LNG plant on line

The first and the largest gas scheme of its kind

The BG Group’s Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) is not only the first gas scheme of its kind, it is also one of the largest. In the upstream section of the plant, more than 2,500 wells have been drilled over 4,500 square kilometers of the Surat Basin to the west of Brisbane, and this may rise as high as 8,000 over the lifetime of the project. The combination of novelty and scale meant that there was tremendous pressure on the project team to devise a system for sending the gas to the midstream Curtis Island trains in a way that was safe and efficient, making the most of the latest technology. 

The midstream element of the project is made up of two LNG trains on Curtis Island. These purify and liquefy the raw gas, and by the middle of 2016 they will be producing enough to fill 10 tankers a month, which will add up to about 8 million tonnes a year. The project continues to undergo expansion in the Australian state of Queensland. The new, giant field compression station will allow a further 400 wells to come online.

Main facts

Long-term customer partnership

ABB played a major role in the front-end engineering design (FEED) process that helped find a solution for this world first. It helped to define the process control and emergency shutdown systems, as well as the electrical infrastructure that power the processing facilities and the telecoms links that enable communications to be maintained over the vast basin. 

After the FEED stage was complete, ABB was appointed main automation contractor, and its flagship System 800xA integration platform was picked to run the entire upstream operation. 

This allowed the principal processes of QCG’s upstream operations to be integrated and controlled by a single distributed control system. This was certainly convenient for the operators responsible for running them: just four people can manage all the industrial, electrical, telecoms and instrumentation systems from one 24-hour control room. What’s more, the systems automated and optimised the main processes, thereby minimising operating costs and ensuring the safety of the plant and its personnel. To understand the importance of this, it should be remembered that each of QCC’s 2,500 wells has between 50 and 70 data points that are scanned every 30 seconds, and more than 750,000 data points in total exist in the process. 

System 800xA offered a number of general advantages in that it was simple to configure and based on robust and proven software. It was also easy to upgrade, and because it was an open system, could be readily integrated with third-party products.

More specifically, the upstream package included the latest power conversion and safety interlock systems, smart plant instrumentation, bi-directional interfaces, substation integration, alarm analysis and telecoms infrastructure. The telecom equipment was based on a fiber-optic communications network, complete with CCTV and perimeter intrusion detection, access control and public address functionality. Because the nature of coal seam gas extraction requires the continual drilling of new wells, System 800xA was designed to bring new wells on line in minutes.

Another important aspect of the system was its resilience: all critical hardware was fully redundant, so a failure could occur in any individual central processor, switch, server or communication module without bringing work to a halt.
Just four people can manage all the industrial, electrical, telecoms and instrumentation systems from one 24-hour control room

Smart operations and maintenance

As well as helping to design and run the plant, ABB signed a long-term contract to provide a comprehensive asset management strategy for it, including planned and unplanned maintenance, an on-site team to look after System 800xA, spare parts management and continuous monitoring of the health of its equipment. 

The system’s use of the IEC 61850 communications protocol as a standard for the integration of intelligent electrical devices (IEDs) meant that substation equipment and process instrumentation could readily be monitored and controlled by System 800xA. This reduced risk and cost, as well as providing diagnostic data to the alarm and asset management systems. One advantage of this diagnostic information is that engineers minimize the need travel vast distances across the site to view diagnostic information, or to configure electrical devices. 

System 800xA also allowed ABB to provide an advanced collaboration feature called Point of Control (PoC). This supported the transfer of authority to operate sections of process, such as a single plant item or a complete compressor station, between central and local control rooms. For example, the upstream section has six central processing plants (CPPs) that raise the pressure of the gas before it is exported to the midstream facility through the 540 km pipeline network. Using PoC, the engineers present at the CPP are able to quickly and safely transfer control from the central control room to local operational staff on request. The central control room retains a view-only access until the control is transferred back. This standard feature of System 800xA sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. 

Another advantage is that its computerized maintenance management systems can manage any asset, whether it is a SMART field instrument, an IED or a telecoms system. This allows the formulation of a clear maintenance strategy that increases asset availability and performance while maximizing operations and the effectiveness of maintenance.
The central control room retains a view-only access until the control is transferred back. This standard feature of System 800xA sets it apart from many of its contemporaries

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