Oil and Gas


Products, systems and solutions

Products, systems and solutions for offshore oil and gas production platforms are an important part of ABB’s portfolio. We design, manufacture and install the equipment that distributes electricity to every piece of machinery on them. We also deliver control systems that ensure that the entire platform can be operated safely and efficiently, as well as the telecommunication systems required for operating the plant, communicating with on-site and off-site personnel and distributing information to centralized support staff.

To draw an analogy with an organic body, these systems provide the platform’s muscles, senses and nerves. The generators, transformers and motors bring the plant to life, and the 800xA control system operates and regulates it as the brain and the nerve system operates and regulates the body: it senses and measures what’s happening inside the plant, it makes sure fluids and gases are flowing where they should flow to keep pressures at the right levels, and if they’re not, then it opens valves when they need to be open, and closes them when they don’t. Meanwhile, the telecoms part passes analytic data to the control room, and also runs everything from the public address and CCTV to the radar to weather systems.

ABB offerings for offshore oil and gas platforms fulfill key customer needs around:

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State of the art control

Safe, efficient and user-friendly operations

The aim of all this automation is to make sure that routine operational tasks are carried out in a safe and efficient way. In the ordinary course of events, the platform runs itself, and only calls on its human overseers when something needs to be attended to – if, for example, a higher than normal temperature has been detected, the system’s sophisticated diagnostic routines will tell an operator what the matter is, and also suggest a course of action.  

It is intended to make life as easy as possible for that operator. For example, we have spent many years and have conducted a great deal of research to work out how color and graphics can best be used on the large-format control screens. What’s more, we can supply computer-controlled mock-ups of a control room that allow operators to practice responding to issues as they arise, in the same way as airplane pilots train on flight simulators.

Information at your fingertips to optimize equipment maintenance 

The control system contains a lot of information about each separate element of the platform. So, each pump will be digitally modeled, and that model have its operation manual attached, together with details of how it should be maintained, who to call if it goes wrong and so on. All of this is organized in a standardized way, to make retrieving the information as simple as possible.

The system also automates maintenance. It keeps a log of how each bit of equipment has performed and knows to the day when it should be inspected, serviced or replaced. As maintenance costs account for a high proportion of the operational expenditure for an oil and gas platform, one of the principal aims of our control systems is to enable customers to reduce those costs.

Future developments

Moving to remote operations
There are a number of trends in offshore oil and gas extraction that guide the way we are developing our equipment and services.

One is to increase still further the ability of platforms to run themselves, and to move the engineers who monitor them to onshore control rooms. It is easier, cheaper and safer to run a platform from a remote centre: supplying an offshore crew and ferrying them back and forth by helicopter is an expensive and inherently dangerous business. Ever more capable automation systems hold out the prospect of running a production facility either with no, or very low, staffing levels – like an old-fashioned lighthouse.

Enabling power-from-shore and subsea processing
Another development is the growth of onshore power supplies. In most cases, platforms are powered by their own generators, using the fuel that they are extracting. There is trend, however, towards running cables from onshore and using lower carbon energy sources. This is another area where we have worked out low cost solutions.

 A third area is subsea processing. As the oil companies move into ever deeper water to find their hydrocarbon reservoirs, it makes sense to move pumps and compressors from the platform to the seabed beneath it. So, we have designed frequency converters, cables and transformers that work at low temperature and high pressures, and so enable the industry to do its work in the best possible way at the lowest possible cost.

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