Krohne liquid level switch for extreme conditions!

Normally electronically-based process sensors have problems when dealing with extremes of hot or cold temperatures, and can suffer if subjected to high pressures. So the Krohne Optiswitch 5300C is maybe the exception that proves the rule, with a temperature capability from -196°C to +450°C, and able to withstand pressures from zero up to 160 barg (this is -321°F to +842°F, and 0-2320psig). Despite the name, the Optiswitch is a vibrating fork liquid level switch, available with wetted parts in Inconel Alloy 718, with parts in 316L or Hastelloy C-22.

Krohne switch

Optiswitch (pictured sideways for convenience)

This new Optiswitch is designed and fully approved for extreme process conditions, for Overfill protection duties and high/low level alarm, and should find application in the chemical and oil & gas industries, marine tankers and steam boilers. It is available with a variable insertion length, up to 3m long (for vertical mounting from the top of a tank or vessel), and can be used in SIL2 applications, or can be built into a SIL3 redundant architecture set-up. It is a new and significant addition to the Krohne Optiswitch range, which includes models suitable for both liquid and solids/powder applications.

Interestingly the output options available include a DPDT relay, PNP/NPN transistor outputs, or a switched 8/16mA current indication. The latter output was introduced on the Mobrey ultrasonic level switches back in the 1980s, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but was never really taken up.

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

US climate change contribution

….65 tonnes per hour of methane, discharging to atmosphere for 6 months!

The Climate Change conference in Paris, in December, was bracketed by yet more “once in 200 year” floods in Northwest England, and followed, or maybe even preceded, by the UK Government announcing the cancellation of CCS research support, and all subsidies to solar power. OK they are now rethinking solar power subsidy.

But the USA was already digging itself deeper into the mire by having a major methane gas leak in California. Already, the methane gas leak from underground storage tanks had been venting to atmosphere for two months when they sat down at the table. The problem is, current plans to stop the leak will take three further months, if it works. Why can’t the US machine do it faster?

So at 65 metric tonnes per hour of gas discharge of methane, this is 1560 T per day; 46,800 T per month; and 234 thousand tonnes over the five months of the leak, all things being well.

Now methane is 70 times more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2, so that means the leak will be equivalent to 16 million, 380 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere because of a leak that was not ‘controllable by the US industry involved’, from natural gas storage, presumably it was storing their fracked gas. We don’t get told the equivalent of this air pollution in terms of vehicle emissions or power station homes supplied with power: maybe we should measure it in terms of numbers of houses flooded, and cyclone casualties instead?

Actually, it can be measured against one of the biggest coal fired stations in the UK, Longannet in Scotland. Longannet power station is closing because it consumes 1000 Tonnes of coal per hour, say that is 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per hour. It does not have any CCS capture technology, so it is closing because it is a major source of European pollution.
The gas leak in California is 65T per hour methane, equivalent to 4550 Tonnes per hour of CO2 equivalent.
So this one gas leak is more polluting than one of the UK power stations that is now paying fines for its pollution emissions!
Are the US owners of this methane storage facility paying any fines for their climate damage? Does anyone in the USA care about this enough to put a major effort in to close the leak in less than another three months, maybe, if everything works like they hope?

See http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/107539/Massive-gas-leak-from-California-underground-storage-reservoir-causes-1-800-families-to-relocate.aspx?

January 2016 Update:

The leak rate has slowed considerably over the past months, and the Californian Air Resources Board reckon the total discharge to date has been about 83,000 tonnes of methane. They consider the well storage is being exhausted. This equates to 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. SoCalGas suggest the leak capping process will be completed in the month of March.

February 2016 Update:

On Feb 11th SoCalGas announced that they had completed the drilling down to intercept the base of the leaking well, and they had succeeded in plugging the flow with heavy mud followed up by cement. So the leak had been stopped – but it was probably stopped anyway, all the gas having been exhausted. 11,300 residents can now return to their homes.

More important is that attention has now been focussed on the problem of these leaky old wells used for gas storage, and the Los Angeles Daily News has the bit between its teeth and is turning investigative reporters onto similar stories. Main focus is on the Hattiesburg Gas Storage site in Mississippi and Lake Gas Storage site in Texas.

 

Finland LNG terminal automation

Honeywell Process Solutions will provide its Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) automation controls, with tank gauging systems, to Finland’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal. The imported LNG will be used to supply natural gas to marine vessels and industrial facilities in Finland, helping to replace other fuels that have higher emissions.

The cleaner-burning natural gas will help these vessels and facilities meet emissions regulations in the Baltic Sea and Nordic areas. Honeywell technology (including Enraf tank gauging) is currently being used in about 40 similar LNG import and export terminals around the world.

Additionally, Honeywell’s Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) will connect and power comfort, safety and security systems within the terminal itself, creating a productive environment for workers. With tight integration between the Experion PKS and EBI, operators will have one interface to access and manage all process and facility technology, which improves site-wide visibility and efficiency.
“Honeywell’s technologies offer Skangas Oy an all-in-one solution that will help make their new facility be efficient and productive from day one,” said Pieter Krynauw, vp and gm of the Honeywell Process Solutions Projects and Automation Solutions business unit. “This fully integrated technology will help the terminal maximize its operations with accurate and on time information, precise measuring technologies, safety and security.”
This will be the third LNG terminal equipped for Skangas, one of the largest suppliers of small-scale LNG in the Nordic countries. The company operates similar facilities in Sweden and Norway to provide customers with natural gas for shipping, industrial and heavy-duty land transport needs. The Pori LNG terminal will have a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters and will be completed in the second half of 2016. Honeywell’s tank gauging systems will be used on tanks provided through the Spanish engineering company FCC Industrial e Infraestructuras Energeticas S.A.U.
“Demand for LNG in Finland continues to rise for industrial, shipping and heavy-duty land transport companies,” said Tommy Mattila, Sales and Marketing director, Skangas. “It is critical that this terminal operates at the highest level of efficiency.”
Honeywell technologies that will be used at the facility include:
  • Experion® Process Knowledge System (PKS), the heart of the Integrated Control and Safety Systems (ICSS), which offers more than traditional distributed control systems (DCS) by unifying people with process, business requirements and asset management by enabling integration of all process control, safety systems and automation software.
  • Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) is a building management system that provides a single point of access to information and resources that help monitor, control and protect a facility. EBI will connect fire detection, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, and heating and cooling equipment at the new Skangas Oy terminal, and seamlessly share data with Experion PKS.
  • Terminal Manager automates all operations at a bulk liquid terminal, including key monitoring and controlling functions such as product receipt, gate access control and loading.
  • Safety Manager integrates process safety data, applications, system diagnostics and critical control strategies, and executes defined safety applications in a fully redundant architecture.
  • SmartRadar FlexLine is one of Honeywell’s portfolio of high-end radar tank gauges for the assessment of tank contents, tank inventory control and tank farm management.
  • Portable Enraf Terminal is a portable device that enables access and reading of Honeywell Enraf tank gauges regardless of weather or operating conditions.

Emerson helps Qatargas LNG recover jetty boil-off gas

Emerson Process Management has provided automation and engineering services for a Qatargas project that will hopefully reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6 million tonnes annually. Now fully operational, the Jetty Boil-Off Gas (JBOG) Recovery facility is the biggest of its kind and one of the largest environmental investments in the world. It is expected to recover more than 600,000 tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year – equivalent to the energy supply for more than 300,000 homes.

The facility is designed to recover the gas flared during LNG loading at the six LNG berths in Ras Laffan Port. The gas is compressed and sent to the Qatargas and RasGas LNG production facilities for use as fuel, or to be re-converted to LNG.

Emerson won this contract based on its leadership in oil and gas automation technologies, services, and expertise. Emerson specialists managed key elements of the project including automation engineering, configuration, startup, training, commissioning support and other services.

“Without Emerson’s highly skilled team, completing the project would have been vastly harder,” said Michael Koo, the Qatargas Project Manager.

The Emerson automation solution for the project used their DeltaV distributed control system to control and monitor operations, as well as Fisher control valves and Rosemount measurement instruments.

“The Emerson team welcomed this opportunity to help Qatargas execute the project safely, reliably and efficiently,” said Alvinne Rex Abaricia, Emerson’s senior programme manager for Qatargas. “We were able to apply flexible approaches to increase efficiency, such as testing hardware and software in parallel, and brought in dozens of experts from our own organisation as well as other suppliers to manage interfaces between existing and new systems.”

The $1 billion JBOG project is a landmark for the State of Qatar, demonstrating its commitment to balance industrial expansion with care for the environment.

GE helps Queensland Curtis LNG to first gas

GE Oil & Gas has played a pivotal role in the global liquefied natural gas industry (LNG) with its systems used in the first ever large-scale production of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Coal Seam Gas (CSG) at the BG Group’s Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) plant, on Curtis Island, off Queensland in Australia

GE technology of gas turbines, centrifugal compressors and generators are integral parts of the QCLNG facility that has now begun producing LNG for its first export shipment. “This is a historic milestone, not only for GE and our customer, BG Group, but for the oil and gas industry globally,” said Mary Hackett, GE Oil & Gas Regional Director for Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.  “This conversion of CSG to LNG on a large-scale truly unlocks this resource and GE has been working closely with our customer to deliver solutions across the entire hydrocarbon delivery chain to achieve this.”

The first LNG milestone is part of GE’s long-term commitment to the QCLNG project, having signed a 22-year Contractual Service Agreement with QGC, BG Group’s Australian subsidiary and the operator of QCLNG, early in 2013 – which provides for a broad range of advanced technology services.  Featuring reliability guarantees on the equipment, the GE scope of work includes planned and unplanned maintenance of the installed GE equipment, including 15 aeroderivative gas turbines, 28 centrifugal compressors, gearboxes, generators and all auxiliaries. The agreement also includes monitoring and diagnostic services.

As one of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects, QCLNG is part of the growing Australian LNG industry. Australia is expected to surpass Qatar as the biggest exporter of gas by 2020.  The QCLNG plant is the first of three LNG projects to be constructed on Curtis Island, all of which will utilise GE technology. The resulting LNG will be primarily targeted for export markets including China, Japan and Singapore.

Yokogawa recovery is now completed

The recent Yokogawa User Conference in Berlin was reported in the INSIDER Newsletter July 2014 issue, showing a major emphasis on wireless systems, and the addition of new wireless sensors, for example for flammable gas alarm applications. The Berlin conference was the first significant Yokogawa European event since the Nice User Group meeting in November 2012, and so gave a good opportunity to talk to the management and assess how the business has reorganized and progressed over the few years. The overall impression is that Yokogawa is back to full health, so the major players need to move over.

The problems of the last five years.

The group has had a hard time over the last five years, following the world-wide recession and then their poor financial results in 2009. Then Japanese factors affected the Group badly, with the rise of the Japanese Yen reducing the competitive position – because of local production and group HQ costs – and the country then faced the impact and aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Some of the Test and Measurement Division businesses were sold off, realizing some capital, and the company structure has been rearranged: jobs and resources were re-allocated. Wound around this, the wireless standards ‘war’ between ISA100 and WirelessHART, where Yokogawa for a long time took the brunt of the problems, and presumably had to help in the process of finalizing the ISA100 standard into a workable form: at least this is now completed, and consequently Yokogawa is the leader in the ISA100 field.

Recovery factors

Perhaps the major market factor that aided the Yokogawa recovery was the growth of the LNG liquefaction and shipping activity around the world, since is this an area where they have significant expertise and have a large market share compared to the other majors. Currently there are continuing LNG projects, the Japanese Yen has returned to the historic level of ¥100=$1, and over some years the production facilities have been diversified, reducing the concentration in Japan.

The flow company, Rota, has always been headquartered in Europe: now the special custom assemblies of complete analyzer houses are also built in Europe and the USA, plus the latest LNG project on the Yamal peninsula in Russia will be engineered from Europe. In a discussion at their Berlin conference, Yokogawa president and COO Nishijima san reminded me that they already had two established manufacturing joint venture companies in China, manufacturing transmitters and flowmeters, and the DCS systems plus other measuring instruments are built in Indonesia, with general pcboard manufacturing in Singapore. Nishijima san also commented on the need for local manufacture in the USA to provide the fast lead times required in that market, so we might see investment in a new production assembly venture there.

The next steps – with wireless

The Berlin conference showed that Yokogawa is building on their ISA100 position, and is seeking other add-on wireless sensor technologies to increase their ‘in-house’ capability. This might be by using their add-on wireless adaptor/interface, to existing mains powered sensors. It looks like a good relationship has developed with GE Bently Nevada, and corrosion and intrusion detection sensors might be next, with maybe fire detection sensors to go alongside the GasSecure flammable gas detectors on offshore platforms. Dräger, the specialists in oil and gas safety technology, were one of the major sponsoring partners of the Berlin conference, and also presented a talk discussing fire detection, using visual flame detection systems.

Nishijima was appointed President in February 2013: in April 2013 Herman van den Berg was appointed European President, and in December 2013 Simon Rogers was recruited as the head of the UK operation. Van den Berg, probably in common with Chet Mroz and others in the USA, has been burning up the air miles to Japan over the past 18 months, as a part of planning the recovery of the business. In fact there was an acquisition in March 2013 of Soteica Visual Mesa, marking an entry for Yokogawa into energy management IT services. Nishijima san sees further alliances and even acquisitions as an important route for Yokogawa to consider, to achieve the future growth his shareholders expect to see, and the current improvement in debt/equity ratio and normalization of the company share status makes this much more possible.

DCS and software developments

The major existing DCS developments have involved cyber-security improvements, probably in conjunction with McAfee after the February 2013 announcement, and ISAsecure certification for ProSafe RS. Additions to expect in this area are augmented reality added onto the displays, and compatibility with virtual servers. Yokogawa sees major business expansion potential in providing IT techniques and services for their IA customers, as a continuing service activity.

Examples quoted were CMMS in the cloud, which is already being offered as a service in Japan, and a software service called iMaintain, jointly developed and installed with Akzo Nobel in Germany: plus there is also their RigRider drilling procedure software, as reported from the Offshore Europe Expo in the newsletter last September. iMaintain enables client engineers to access device live data and history via a tablet on site, after reading the device ID locally using OCR. The iMaintain server accesses the DCS via an OPC link, to get current data, but can also call up device notes previously recorded, and also the instruction manual. A similar service offering is the Sotieca VisualMesa energy management system, which can suggest fuel and operational changes that will run plants such as refineries at minimal cost. One example of this is a recent project for the BP Lingen refinery in Germany: the system is in use in around 70 sites in refineries and petrochemical plants in the EU and North America.

The R+D activity on instrumentation also continues….

In the area of field instrumentation, continuing development will be seen following their strategy of having a two tier offering, featuring a top of the range unit backed up with a lower cost unit aimed at lower specification requirements. This has been seen with the EJX and EJA-E pressure transmitter, and the Admag AXF flowmeter, with the RXF unit typically for water industry applications. A new version of the TDLS combustion gas analyzer will also be launched soon. The activity level in this area of R+D is significant, with typically 400 to 500 new patents generated in a year.

Nick Denbow

The INSIDER Newsletter covering industrial automation and control is a Spitzer and Boyes publication, see http://www.iainsider.co.uk

Ineos plans to make a killing with shale gas

It was in the INSIDER last November that we reported on the Ineos Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical plant labour problems, which arose from the turndown in the oil quantity being delivered from the North Sea via the BP Forties pipeline. Because of that uncertain supply, and the ethane feedstock supply contract which runs out in 2017, the petrochemical plant had an uncertain future.

So Ineos have said that they will look to import ethane from the USA, and are conducting studies for the construction of a receiving terminal in Grangemouth. Meanwhile, the company have other European cracker complexes which also require ethane supplies, to produce ethylene for the European market as a whole. First priority has been to gain ethane supplies for the Rafnes (Norway) cracker, and one 15 year contract has been signed with Range Resources (USA) for 400,000 tpa ethane, to be delivered via the Mariner East pipeline to Marcus Hook in Philadelphia. From there it will be shipped in three new custom-built (by Evergas) ethane tankers, to Rafnes. At the Rafnes facility, TGE Gas Engineering of Germany is constructing a new ethane storage tank of 17,000 tonnes capacity, with a completion date of December 2014, bringing total site storage to 30,000 tonnes. US shipments are expected to start in earnest in early 2015.

The cost savings are significant

The drive behind this project is the cost savings achievable with US shale gas. Already Rafnes produces ethylene at a cost of $950/tonne, ie quoted as well below the European average. Ineos Olefins and Polymers Europe expects the Rafnes costs to drop to near $500/tonne, with the access to low cost US shale-gas derived feedstocks.

So Ineos is looking at further expansion plans: FEED for a 33,000 tonne storage unit at Grangemouth is being quoted by Babcock International, in competition with TGE, and another tanker build project is being brought forward, with two further in consideration. At Rafnes an expansion of the cracker capacity to 50,000 tpa will be completed by end 2015. A further ethane supply contract has been signed with Consol Energy, and there are discussions with other suppliers continuing.

David Thompson, Ineos procurement and supply chain director, commented “This [Consol] contract adds to our supply portfolio providing for long term sourcing of advantageously priced US ethane for our European crackers. It will allow us to continue to consolidate the competitiveness of Ineos ethylene production in Europe.”

The future for Grangemouth

The options for Grangemouth are still open, and could involve trans-shipment from Rafnes. Plant modifications costing GBP300m would be needed to prepare the Grangemouth site to change the feedstock to shale gas-derived ethane. Ineos has four crackers, with further plants in France and Germany as well, giving a total production capacity of 3 million tpa, sourced from both oil and gas feedstocks. So there is a large market demand for efficient low cost plant operations.

Natural shale gas and oil shale reserves occur in hard dense deposits of shale, which were formed from ancient sea basins millions of years ago. Shale is more than just natural gas: the Energy Information Agency (EIA) reports: “Shale plays known primarily for natural gas production – or where horizontal drilling initially targeted natural gas – are also seeing accelerating oil-focused drilling.” In the North Dakota shale gas area “total oil production has approximately tripled since 2005”. Shale gas is sought in geographic areas where there can be natural gas, and shale oil reserves, in shale rock.

The history tells a story

From 1860, Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company Limited produced oil from shale or coal by “treating bituminous coals to obtain paraffine therefrom”. This company was based in Boghead, near Bathgate in Scotland – the centre of the shale oil industry in the UK that continued until 1920, when the six surviving shale oil companies were purchased by the forerunner of BP. In 1924 the Grangemouth refinery was positioned there, largely because of the large local pool of skilled workers, trained in refining in the Scottish shale oil industry. A map of the shale oil pits and mines can be seen on www.scottishshale.co.uk, and they are spread across the lowlands from Dundee to East Kilbride, with Grangemouth in the middle. Production from 1880 to 1940 totalled around 2m tpa.

So you might be forgiven for thinking that Ineos might be sitting in the middle of an area where shale gas, equivalent to that being processed into ethane for them in the USA, might be right under their feet, associated with the already proven shale oil deposits. Ineos are very forward thinking.

  • The US Energy Department has approved exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Cameron LNG project of Sempra Energy. This approval of up to 1.7 billion cubic feet/day from the Louisiana terminal to countries with which the US does not have a free-trade agreement is the sixth such approval from the US since 2011. The total allowed LNG export level has reached a potential 8.5 billion cubic feet/day.
  • The Nexen Buzzard field, 60 miles northeast of Aberdeen, is the UK’s highest producing oilfield, sending 160,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day via the Forties pipeline to the Kinneal terminal for processing at Grangemouth. It began production in 2007. ABB has recently won a service contract to support the Integrated Control and Safety System (ICSS) on-board the Nexen Buzzard platform. The contract offers a number of new advanced services such as ServicePort (system and process optimisation) and ServicePro (asset management) and includes a maintenance management package with an associated KPI reporting tool. ABB will also host a full scale replica of Nexen’s offshore control network in their Aberdeen office, to perform configuration management and comprehensive testing of all software changes prior to installation on site.

Regular news on Process Automation and Control topics is presented in the INSIDER monthly newsletter, supplied on subscription by Spitzer and Boyes LLC: Nick Denbow is the European correspondent for the INSIDER. For more information please consulthttp://www.iainsider.co.uk or http://www.spitzerandboyes.com