800xA simulator for Ormen Lange gas plant

Testing control logic in parallel with construction and training operators before production start for the largest ever industrial project in Norway


The Ormen Lange project, the largest ever industrial project in Norway, can supply 20 percent of Britain’s gas needs for up to 40 years. 800xA Simulator led to more engineering and operational efficiency for plant production.

Major offshore development with world's longest pipeline

The Ormen Lange project commenced production on 1 October 2007. The project start-up was very successful thanks to the use of System 800xA based process simulation for engineering and operations.

The island community at Aukra in the exposed north west of Norway has undergone major changes this century. After the decision that Nyhamna should be developed into an onshore terminal for the Ormen Lange field, a temporary village providing accommodation for up to 4,000 people was built. Now that the facility has been commissioned the village has disappeared and an ultramodern terminal with associated buildings for the operating personnel awaits us as we arrive from Molde.

The gas field was discovered by Hydro in 1997. It covers an area about 40 km long and eight to ten km wide, situated approximately 3,000 m below sea level. The Ormen Lange field has the second largest gas reserves on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The facility is designed to bring ashore, and process gas and condensates from 16 wellheads. Three wells are in operation at present and daily gas production is running at 40 million standard cubic metres. This corresponds to revenue of approximately NOK 150 million (USD 23 million) per day for the facility.

The contractor for construction of the facility was Aker Kvaerner, and StatoilHydro was the responsible operator. Following the start of production in September 2007, responsibility for operation was taken over by Norske Shell. ABB supplied automation, electrification, telecommunications and operator training systems.
The gas from Ormen Lange is blended with gas from other fields at the Sleipner platform and then transported to Easington in UK via the 1,155 km long Langeled pipeline. The picture above shows the construction of the Langeled pipeline at Sleipner by help of the Acergy Piper vessel, one of the world’s most efficient semi-submersible pipelay barges. The Ormen Lange gas field is Norway’s first deep-water offshore development (below). The field sits roughly 3,000 meters under the surface of the Norweigan Sea about 120 kilometers north west of Kristiansund. The reservoir covers an area about 40 kilometers long and 8 to 10 kilometers wide. The activities at Nyhamna will continue to grow for many years, after more wells have been brought on-stream and production at the facility increases significantly. Each individual well has an estimated life of 15 years.

Main facts

Industry Oil, gas and petrochemicals
Customer Statoil Hydro, Ormen Lange
Country Norway

System 800xA with 

System 800xA simulator
Safeguard system
Anti surge system

ABB supply
  • 67 AC 800M controllers:
    • 43 AC 800M
    • 12 AC 800M HI
    • 12 redundant AC 800M HI
  • 15 000 S800 I/Os

Simulations based on realistic process models

Since the start of the project at Lysaker in 2004, all the process areas of the Ormen Lange field have been analyzed and simulated. One engineering simulator and two operator training simulators (one leased) were supplied by ABB together with Kongsberg Maritime.

The simulator project team consisted of representatives from Hydro, Shell, Aker Kvaerner, Kongsberg Maritime and ABB.

The simulator is constructed using ABB’s Training Simulator product connected to the process model delivered by Kongsberg Maritime. This is a simulator adapted version of ABB’s 800xA automation system.

The simulation system uses the process graphics and control logic directly from the automation system for the real process to get identical operator environment and process control. Hardware controllers are replaced with software based controllers running on standard computer hardware. The high fidelity process model uses OLGA to emulate the dynamic behavior of wells and pipelines.

The process involved numerous sequences and these were controlled from within separate process sections. These process sections were thoroughly tested in the simulator facility before the start of production. Three simulator systems were used in parallel.

The simulation system uses the process graphics and control logic directly from the automation system for the real process to get identical operator environment and process control.

Shortening project startup time with process simulations

The simulators were used in the project from the beginning with great success and benefits. As a result logic errors in the architecture of the system were detected and remedied at an early stage of the project. After the facility had been commissioned critical changes in the process control is entered first into the engineering simulator before being transferred into the real control system.

The simulator facility is situated close to the operations centre at Ormen Lange. This permits optimum utilization and training of operators in the room alongside the Real Time process, and operators were trained before production start.

The planned start date for production was October 1, 2007 but this was brought forward by 3 weeks. According to Bjørnar Lia, Operations Engineer with Norske Shell, a central factor in this was the active and specific training of operators on the simulator throughout the construction phase.

As the simulator played a central role in the engineering project from day one, continuing through the testing and start-up period, this resulted in the Ormen Lange facility being commissioned earlier than planned. The facility has in 2008 achieved an uptime of 95%.
The simulator played a central role in the engineering project from day one, continuing through the testing and start-up period. This resulted in the Ormen Lange facility being commissioned earlier than planned.
A modern control room with good functionality for the operator

Simulator training of operators

Optimizating gas production process

ABB has a long-term service contract for the supplied scope although the operations centre is managed by Norske Shell. The operators receive thorough training on the training simulator before being admitted to the process.

The real process must be operated with two operators in the control room and three operators out in the field. In the current phase of the project, the process is being fine tuned for optimum process performance and alarm reporting.

An anti-freeze fluid (MEG) is added to the natural gas at a depth of 800 to 1,100m before the gas flows up to the wellheads. The gas is brought ashore directly from the wellheads in two 30 inch pipelines. The distance from the wells to the shore is 120 km. On arrival at the Nyhamna facility, the gas is led into a slugcatcher to separate out mud, anti-freeze fluid and water. A filtration process separates condensate in a stripper and this is returned to an inlet heater and is then led to a shipping terminal. The refined gas is dried and cooled in a heat exchanger.

The cooled gas is transported from the heat exchangers to a cold separator, where precipitated condensate is separated and conveyed to an inlet heater. The gas from the cold separator is heated in the gas/gas heat exchanger and is recompressed.
The finished refined gas is then transported in the world’s longest transport pipeline via the Sleipner field and onwards to Easington in England. At Sleipner, gas from Ormen Lange is blended with gas products from other fields on the shelf before continuing on its way to England. The pipeline extends for a distance of 1,155 km and is known as Langeled. The condensate that is separated out at Nyhamna is stored for transport by sea. The anti-freeze fluid is cleaned and returned to the process for reuse. The whole process from the wellheads to the refining facility and the onward transport to Sleipner is monitored and controlled from the operations centre.

Gassco has responsibility for ensuring that the gas reaches the consumer and is the operator responsible for the transport system from Ormen Lange. Langeled is operated and supervised by Gassco from its control centre at Bygnes in Rogaland.
The real process must be operated with two operators in the control room and three operators out in the field. It is being fine tuned for optimum process performance and alarm reporting.
The daily gas production at Ormen Lange is at present running at 40 million standard cubic metres

The daily turnover of Ormen Lange is approximately 23 million USD

Automation and monitoring

The process is monitored from a modern control room at the control centre in Nyhamna. A curved wall with a large screen display provides the operators with a good overview of the process facility. Camera monitoring of process sections is also integrated into the safety and automation system.

The system is a huge 800xA system with 28 operator workplaces and eight engineering stations, requiring 42 servers in six cabinets for the process automation and information management system. Control room, “collaboration” consoles and equipment and the large screen is also supplied.
The process has 15,000 I/Os in total, and the I/O communications protocols at field level are mainly on HART and Profibus.

The process is monitored and controlled by 67 AC 800M controllers (43 Single AC 800M, 12 single AC 800M HI and 12 redundant AC 800M HI), controlling Process Control, Process Shutdown, Fire&Gas, HVAC, Power Distribution Control System, Subsea Control Units and Fire Water Pumps. In addition, there is supplied two Safe Guard systems for Emergency Shutdown and three Anti Surge systems.

A redundant PPS (Pipeline Protection System), which monitors the pressures in Langeled, communicates with the process automation system facility at Nyhamna via a Modbus protocol.

The simulator system covers most areas of the Process Control, Process and Emergency Shutdown, some Fire&Gas areas, Power Distribution Control System, Subsea Control Units, Anti Surge and simplified metering.

Production of control cabinets was carried out from the summer of 2004 to the autumn of 2005, and control logic programming was finished the summer of 2006.
Operations Engineer Bjørnar Lia of Norske Shell and Site Lead Arne-Ivar Iversen of ABB can look back over a successful automation project with a good structure for the entire construction phase.

Great savings potential in oil & gas installations

The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (Petroleumstilsynet) imposes no absolute requirements on the use of simulators. The document “Prinsipper for utforming av Alarmsystemer” (principles for the design of alarm systems) issued by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (Oljedirektoratet) states: “The use of the alarm system during a major incident will typically be very different from the use of the system under normal operating conditions. Accordingly regular and realistic training, such as simulator training, should be carried out to ensure that the operators are in a position to use the alarm system in the various situations.”

Bjørnar Lia, Operations Engineer with Norske Shell says “There is no absolute requirement for a simulator facility. But our documented experience from the Ormen Lange project provides evidence that the use of the simulator facility has provided us with good safety routines in the process, as well as significant savings in the start-up period of the facility.”

He also says “We have consistently been able to identify logic errors at an early stage before the sequences were implemented in the control system."

"Operators who have access to the control room receive the best possible training on the simulator, as we consistently incorporate all changes in the process facility into the simulator.”
Documented experience gained from the Ormen Lange facility has demonstrated considerable potential for savings in oil and gas facilities.

Recongnition for optimization efforts

The facility was honoured with the prize “2007 HART Plant of the Year” by the foundation behind the technology. The HART Communication Foundation Prize is awarded annually in recognition of people, companies or process facilities which utilize the opportunities offered by HART in real time applications in order to optimize the operations and reduce costs.

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