Technology Focus: Production and Facilities (December 2012)
- Hisham Saadawi (ADCO)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 106 - 106
- 2012. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Commissioning and startup of major oil and gas projects is a project in its own right, running in parallel with the main project. It requires years of advance planning. The management and detailed planning of this phase are crucial to the smooth transition from construction to operation.
There are several reasons that, in recent years, the commissioning and startup phase is becoming more challenging. The size, complexity, and costs of projects have increased steadily. Facilities costs now represent a substantial amount of the development costs. For example, for a typical new onshore development in the Middle East, the total investment costs are roughly split equally between drilling and facilities. More stringent environmental regulations and the increased emphasis on safety and automation have also contributed to making startup more challenging.
The industry needs to learn from past experience to continuously improve performance of megaprojects. A recent study of major industrial projects by Ed Merrow of Independent Project Analysis was published in the April edition of SPE’s new bimonthly magazine, Oil and Gas Facilities. It showed that oil industry megaprojects fared very poorly compared with nonexploration and production (E&P) projects. The study found that the majority of E&P projects were schedule driven to minimize the time to first oil. It noted that “the drive for unobtainable speed to first oil is crippling the industry.”
Because startup is the last phase of the project, there is little margin for schedule slippage. To shareholders and management, the all-important date of first oil represents the turning point in the project cash flow. All parties—project team, contractors, and vendors—are under immense pressure to meet this date.
As the industry moves into deeper water, commissioning and startup of offshore and subsea facilities requires special attention. Earlier this year, the Norwegian classification foundation Det Norsk Veritas (DNV) published a new recommended practice, DNV-RP-A205. This publication gives the best practice for commissioning topside process facilities in mobile marine units such as floating production, storage, and offloading units. Precommissioning and commissioning of subsea production systems is addressed in American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 17A, which is also International Organization for Standardization standard 13628-1.
In reviewing papers for this month’s feature on production and facilities, more than a dozen papers contained the words “commissioning” or “startup” in the paper title. I hope the selected papers, as well as the ones listed for further reading, will give readers an appreciation of the complexities associated with the commissioning and startup of major oil and gas projects in different parts of the world.
Recommended additional reading at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org.
IPTC 14518 Virtual Measurement Value During Startup of Major Offshore Projects by R. Cramer, Shell, et al. (See JPT, September 2012, Page 89.)
OTC 22754 Precommissioning of First Interfield Pipeline of Brazilian Presalt Projects by Sergio R. Feitosa, Weatherford, et al.
SPE 157642 Starting Up Megaprojects—Experiences With the Startup of Pearl GTL by Roel Cornelisse, Qatar Shell, et al.
SPE 155143 ONGC’s C-Series Trunk Pipeline Commissioning by P.V. Sateesh Kumar, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, et al.
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