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Automation in Oil and Gas

Automation Improves Running of Oil and Gas Storage Terminals

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Dyke area of the Black Oil Terminal built in accordance with safety and regulatory requirements
Dyke area of the Black Oil Terminal built in accordance with safety and regulatory requirements (Picture: Mott MacDonald)

Marketing storage terminals are vital to the working of any oil and gas company or refinery, as they store products, which are to be marketed to direct or indirect customers. These terminals can affect the overall business of an organization if not managed competently. Therefor, the smooth operation of the assets becomes vital for oil and gas companies...Here’s an overview of how actuation technology brought about efficiency at the Vishaka Black Oil Terminal.

The Vishaka Black Oil Terminal (BOT) at Vishakapatnam is a prestigious project by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL). It was developed as a fast track project by the marketing projects group of HPCL within a record time of 15 months using all advanced project management techniques. To make this possible, HPCL joined hands with Mott MacDonald, a global management, engineering and development consultancy. The company provided the design, engineering, procurement, project and construction management services from the conceptual stage all the way through to handing over the entire facility to HPCL.

The facility is India’s largest fully automated black oil products terminal. It is spread over an area of 154,000 m2 with a product storage capacity of 94,000 m3 and consists of a modern automation system incorporating a Terminal Automation System (TAS). This system encompasses a tank farm management system, emergency shutdown system and a fire alarm system. The product receipt to the terminal is from Vishaka Refinery as well as jetties at the port.

The product is dispatched by road, rail and through pipelines for bunkering / tanker loading. The terminal is the first site with a provision for blending of products for customized needs of marketing, and thus makes it a full-fledged eastern hub for industries and bunkering.

Design and Planning of Oil and Gas Terminals

Owing to the hazardous nature of these tank farms, continuous monitoring of critical process parameters is a necessity. To prevent overfill situations, which can cause significant soil and ground water contamination, an accurate and reliable tank level monitoring system - Tank Farm Management System (TFMS) is required. Normally, the tanks are connected with the refinery through long pipelines with suitable isolation and the use of shutdown valves.

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Also, valves for transfer of products for dispatch and homogenization are also included. However, following a recent incident at one such terminal, stringent rules have been put in place which require secondary level measurement, detailed locations of automatic isolation valves and dyke height. All of these constraints need to be taken into account during the design stage itself. Furthermore, various safety studies like risk, environment, security, escape route, hazard, operability and hazard identification has to be undertaken during the design phase. These are in addition to specific technical recommendations from qualified and experienced professionals relating to soil stability and surge analysis.

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