I was torn about missing all the excellent presentations (and there were some very good ones scheduled) at WBF on Tuesday and Wednesday, but once I sat through the presentations in Ft. McMurray, I knew I’d made the right decision.
I gave the same talk I gave in Atlanta on Tuesday…The View Ahead: World Wide Trends in Automation and Integration…
The difference in Ft. McMurray was that all the other speakers were showing us how those trends were being applied…today…right now. This is one of the more valuable seminars I’ve been to in a while…even more valuable than ARC and WBF.
Next up after me were Trent Mullen and Brian Lewitski from Devon Energy Corporation who are building a SAGD project at Jackfish. Trent is IT Project Leader and Brian is telecom lead for Devon. For the uninitiated, SAGD stands for Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, and is one of the myriad ways Canadian petrochem professionals have dreamed up to tease the Oil Sands into giving up their hydrocarbons.
What’s this? These are IT guys? Talking to automation professionals? Yep. Not as strange as you might think, up here in Canada, eh.
Trent was a process guy, and he realized that all this convergence stuff that I and ARC and AMR and Gartner and every other pundit worth his hot air have been talking about was true, and so he jumped to the IT side…and took on a serious automation project from the IT direction.
Jackfish is located about 80 miles south of Ft McMurray out in the middle of bloody nowhere. The nearest town of any size, Conklin, is 20 km away.
Trent and Brian faced the necessity of creating telecommunications and automation infrastructure for a project the size of a small town. There will be at least 500 men resident at Jackfish at all times, working on the site. These men need housing, communications, and entertainment, and it has been IT’s job to give it to them.
First, they had to figure out how to talk with the outside world. Located about a mile outside of Telus’ cell phone range, and in country in which it was highly impractical to build a private cell phone repeater, at first, according to Jason, they had to face the direction of Telus’ closest cell tower and lean forward, and hope. This clearly wasn’t going to work for a 500 man crew, so they started investigating other communications options.
At first, they went with a satellite ADSL downlink, but it was apparent that for the amount of bandwidth necessary to do voice, data, and automation model data transmission, they would need a hard link. There was a government-funded Supernet POP (point of presence) and a Telus POP in Conklin. The bid from Telus was “way oot there,” according to Jason Bissonette, and so they worked with the Alberta Provincial Government to get permission to use the Supernet system.
Eventually, they wound up laying 20+ km of 48 strand fiber optic cable between the Jackfish camp and the Supernet POP in Conklin.
Now, Trent and Brian can deliver 150+ telephones, and up to 105+ servers, printers and PCs.
They can also deliver free phone service by VoIP, with 4-digit dialing to a Calgary exchange (since most of the Devon workers will have their families in Calgary) providing free long distance anywhere.
They’ve provided a 24-station Internet Cafe where workers can chat with families and send and receive email.
They also installed 24-channel satellite TV in each room in the bunkhouses, and they have installed a Theater/Orientation room with on demand movies.
The bandwidth they’ve created is so great, and so scaleable that they don’t worry about normal onsite backups, and they’ve rolled security services into the package.
From the process automation perspective, they’ve installed Intergraph’s InTools 3D version, and have already caught some major piping and tank location problems. The 3D model is so good, they are trying to keep it current throughout the life of the project so they can have…
Tadaaaa! On-Line Realtime As-Builts Connected to the Asset Management and Maintenance Software…
The next challenge, which they will report on next year at the Oil Sands Conference, is the ERP integration system.
There’s that train I keep talking about…If you can’t do what Trent and Jason and their staffs can do, better get off the tracks.