Mr. Adbullah Al-Mulla from Saudi Aramco described a set of projects he calls the GOSP Control System Modernization Program. “GOSP” is Aramco shorthand for gas-oil separation plant.
These plants are old, Mr. Al-Mulla reported. Most were built from the 1950s to the 1970s and their control systems are antiquated, obsolete and unrepairable. Spares are nearly impossible to find, and support is nonexistent. This has the potential to lead to extremely unsafe conditions for operators and the environment.
Beginnign in 1998, Saudi Aramco came up with a very innovative plan to upgrade each GOSP. They decided to design to a “cookie cutter” design, so that every GOSP would be very much like every other GOSP when they got done. The series of projects, all done by YME, will be completed by 2008, with a gap between 2001 and 2003 when Aramco was off doing other things…and the price of oil was low.
Typically, the projects consist of close to 2000 hardwired I/O, allocated 50% to the DCS, 40% to the ESD system, 2% to CCS (compressor controls) and the balance to vibration monitoring, with another 2000-odd datalinked I/O. The DCS systems cover two areas, the oil separation and gas gathering.
The last 3 or 4 of the GOSPs have been Foundation Fieldbus.
Aramco decided to invite the DCS vendors to bid as system integrators, and the first 4 GOSPs were competitively bid, with an option for 5 additional GOSPs. There is an umbrella to release individual purchase orders to streamline placement. The system integrator (Yokogawa) manages the subcontractors, and the other equipment suppliers (GE Bently-Nevada and Triconex).
Yokogawa was the successful bidder, and now has in place an extended purchasing agreement including T&C, pricing structure, job specification and functional specifications. This “Partnering in Project Execution” eliminates, according to Mr. Al-Mulla, over 3 to 4 months at the start of each project, because the commercial issues are already worked out.
Mr. Al-Mulla related a summary of what he calls the “Benefits of Partnering”:
–streamlines the procurement process
–decreases project support cost
–decreases project duration
–standardized design for multiple facilities
–vehicle for other projects in other parts of KSA to procure GOSP process control systems.
Later on, I asked Mr. Al-Mulla if he thought Yokogawa was making out quite well on these– after all, I pointed out, the major project cost is the start-up and documentation. Once they have a design, all they have to do is keep popping out the “cookies.” He answered that he thought so, but at the same time, this didn’t detract from any of the benefits, including reduced project completion time and better design reliability that Aramco was getting. After all, now that they’ve done a few, Yokogawa has most of the bugs worked out of the system, and they are getting to be able to do GOSPs very well.