Refinery Automation How Automation Saved the Day for an Indian Refinery

Author / Editor: Nedra Pereira / Dominik Stephan

After 20 years, the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals plant, set up 1993, was ripe for an upgrade. Phase III of the site developed was designed around process enhancements and cost efficiency measures that should help the aging plant to kick into the next gear. The technolgy that brought about the change was automation.

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The process units at the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals facility
The process units at the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals facility
(Picture: Pepperl+Fuchs India)

Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MRPL), a schedule ‘A’ CPSE and a subsidiary of ONGC is a state-of-the-art grassroot refinery located in a beautiful hilly terrain, north of Mangalore city, in the Dakshin Kannada region. The refinery processes crudes of various API and with high degree of automation.

To increase complexity and profitability, the company is implementing the ‘Phase III Refinery Upgradation and Expansion Project’, which includes setting up process units like Diesel Hydro Desuphurisation (DHDT) Unit, Petro Fluidized Catalytic Cracking Unit (PFCCU), Delayed Coker Unit (DCU), Sulphur Recovery Unit (SRU) and Polypropylene Unit (PPU).

Information Transfer at High Speed and Other Challenges Faced

MRPL with the Phase III Project wanted to enhance the way it ran certain processes. Sr Manager, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, Suryanarayana averred, “Operating a refinery plant optimally requires for information transfer to occur at high speeds. Many of the solutions we had incorporated prior to the Phase III upgradation were actually increasing costs.”

An example for this was the continuous requirement for additional H1 segments and its associated hardware for the already existing Fieldbus solution. In addition to this, the operators in the refinery’s control room have to constantly monitor thousands of temperature signals. This is done by using sensor cables that can run upto lengths of 500–1000 mt. This increased the cabling used. Moreover, if there was fault anywhere in the system, operators have to go to manually inspect the area of suspected fault as there was no way to measure probable faults in the system in real-time.

Enter the Automation Specialits

To bring about changes in these aspects of running the plant, MRPL approached Pepperl+Fuchs India (P+F) to make presentations to the company for solutions relating to enhancing the automation processes in the plant. This was owing to the benefits already been seen by MRPL on using P+F products for a minor project associated with its Phase I and II projects.