ABSTRACT

The current regulation environment for pipeline companies has created or reinforced the requirements for operational training programs and quality assurance procedures. Pipeline operators in the USA are regulated by the standards defined by DOT and companies overseas are establishing their own standards, following and sometimes exceeding the regulations of USA. At installations like the OCP (Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados - Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline) in Ecuador, where the pipeline crosses high sensitivity areas, including the Amazon Jungle and the Andean mountains, the pipeline operators are subject to extreme pressure by environmental and government agencies to guarantee safe operation of the line. The particular situation of the OCP, being a brand new pipeline, made the implementation of a training program a very special and highly demanding project. The first steps were to define the professional profile of the operators, select the tools to train them and then evaluate their performance on a line that was just being built. The main objective of this paper is to present the process that was stablished at the OCP to implement the training application, to train and evaluate operator performance on a completely new installation and how they gained confidence in this application to become their daily assistance tool to double check operational procedures and new strategies to run their pipeline. The paper also describes the requirements of the system defined by OCP, the functionality available in the application, the implementation process, the training program and the current procedures related to the usage of this application.

ABOUT OCP

Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados (OCP) Ecuador S.A., a partnership between EnCana, Repsol-YPF, Occidental, Petrobras, Agip Oil and Perenco, constitutes a strategic asset for the present and future of the Ecuadorian oil export and the country itself. The OCP Pipeline transports heavy crude oil approximately 500 km from the Eastern Ecuador to the Pacific Coast of Ecuador near Esmeraldas (See Figure 1) exhibiting an extreme elevation variance, approximately 14,000 feet total variance (4,064 meters). The pipeline consists of 4 different diameters NPS 24, 32, 34, and 36 and 31 associated diameter wall thicknesses and it is designed to transport a blended heavy crude oil. The pipeline is designed to be capable of delivering 450,000 bpd of heated crude oil, at a minimum pipeline blend of 18 degrees API Gravity, on a sustained basis to Esmeraldas. The corresponding peak delivery capability is approximately 518,000 bpd. See Figure 2 for a pipeline schematic.

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS AND BACKGROUND
Background

Before the start of operations and for approximately one year during construction, an extensive recruitment and training plan was conducted at the OCP. Priority on Ecuadorian labor was a requirement and the lack of Ecuadorian pipeline background (only SOTE pipeline, the national 30 year-old pipeline without a SCADA system) was an important limitation. Extensive training programs were established to cover the lack of experience of most of the recruited people.

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