The DCS (distributed control system) alarm system of gathering center of West Kuwait field at Kuwait Oil Company was not functioning as required. DCS alarm system was generating around 400 to 700 alarms in one hour which was out of operator’s alarm handling capacity. This was highlighted as one of the key contributing factor to the seriousness of process upsets & incidents. The overall alarm management system was thoroughly investigated to understand root cause of these poorly functioning system and to improve it accordingly. A detailed investigation revealed lack of alarm management philosophy during design stage and subsequent over configuration of DCS alarms as main cause of this poorly functioning system. All DCS alarms were analyzed in detail to eliminate all unwanted alarms to achieve manageable alarm level of around 5-20 alarms per hour.

This paper shares field experience for analysis of DCS alarm system and explains main root causes which resulted in such poorly functioning alarm system at gathering center of West Kuwait field. It also provides guidelines for improving such alarm system & for developing alarm management philosophy to implement efficient DCS alarm system. It also shares some of the actual alarm data and their analysis which supports need of well-developed alarm management philosophy for implementation of efficient DCS alarm system.

It was observed that total 182 alarms were mainly contributing for significantly higher rate of DCS alarms. These alarms were mainly categorized as frequent alarms, duplicate alarms and chattering alarms. Effective implementation of alarm management philosophy has significantly reduced these alarms and reduced alarm rate from around 700 per hour to 10 per hour.

The paper justifies need for Alarm management philosophy to ensure implementation of efficient DCS alarm system and also provides guideline to achieve it.

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