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20% of UK’s gas consumption will soon be monitored by the B&K Vibro VC-8000 Setpoint system

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Oilfield Technology,

The gas export compressors from the Britannia platform will soon be monitored by the Brüel & Kjær Vibro (B&K Vibro) VC-8000 Setpoint system. The large eight-legged tubular-framed Britannia platform is one of several platforms operating on the Britannia field, which is one of the largest gas and condensate fields in the UK continental shelf.

In addition to Britannia, VC-8000 has also recently increased its footprint in the UK continental shelf by monitoring other platforms.


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Gas is processed on Britannia by a 3-phase high pressure separator and a 3-phase platform well test separator. This gas is then transported via two compressor trains at 180 bar through the dedicated Britannia Gas Pipeline (28-inch, 116 mile) to the Scottish Area Gas Evacuation facility at St. Fergus, Scotland. At its peak, Britannia will supply 9.5% of the natural gas Britain consumes—which is more than 20 million standard m3 of natural gas produced by the platform every day (sm3/d). With so much gas going through only two compressors, it is obvious these machines are highly critical and that there is no tolerance for unplanned downtime. It is these Britannia platform export compressors that will be condition monitored by B&K Vibro’s VC-8000 Setpoint system.

In addition to natural gas, Britannia is also producing 50 000 bpd of condensate. This is delivered by export pumps, which are already being monitored by a B&K Vibro legacy system, through a 14-inch, 28-mile pipeline to the Forties Pipeline System, where it is further transported to the Kinneil processing plant near the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland. Just as a side note, the Forties pipeline with 575 000 bpd of oil capacity, carries around 30% of UK’s oil, from 85 fields in the North Sea.

The VC-8000 Setpoint systems will be replacing both the legacy competitor protection system and B&K Vibro legacy Compass condition monitoring system that have been monitoring the two export compressors up to now. The Compass system, which has been operational for decades, had been taking in data from the export compressors and pumps via buffered outputs of the legacy protection system in order to provide for comprehensive condition monitoring and diagnostic capability. The same legacy Compass system is still being successfully used for monitoring other assets on the platform, such as the condensate export pumps, secondary heating circulation pumps, cooling medium circulation pumps, main generators (gas turbine driven) and booster compressor. Currently there are not plans for this part of the legacy monitoring system to be replaced yet.

Data from the VC-8000 is exported to the OSIsoft ®PI System® historian system. This makes for more effective data correlation and more reliable diagnostics. By utilising the historian interface, there is neither a need for a proprietary database/monitoring server nor license fees. Data can be shared across the enterprise.

Brüel & Kjær Vibro products have already been installed on 22 offshore platforms in the UK and Norwegian continental shelves since 1995, as well as many other platforms world-wide. The most recent in the UK continental shelf are the Lomond, North Everest and Armada platforms.

On all three of these platforms, the export compressors for natural gas and export pumps for condensate and liquids will be protected and continuously monitored by the VC-8000 condition monitoring and machine protection system. As in the case of the Britannia platform, data from the six racks will be stored in the customer’s OSIsoft ®PI System® database, making it easy to correlate with process data and monitoring data from other platforms.

The offshore Central Area Transmission System (CATS) riser platform takes in gas and condensate from 4 platforms, which include Lomond, North Everest, Armada. The total production from these 3 platforms is around 19.5 million sm3/d of gas and 63 000 bpd of condensate. This represents more than 9% of UK’s total gas production. Gas from the CATS riser platform is then transported to the CATS pipeline, which has the capacity to supply 48 million sm3/d to the CATS terminal at Teeside for gas processing and distribution.

In addition to the Armada, North Everest and Lomond platforms, the Beryl Alpha platform is also planned to be monitored by VC-8000. It produces around 300 000 bpd of oil (this includes 100 000 bpd produced by Beryl Bravo via pipeline) and around 4 million sm3/d of gas, which was previously re-injected into the formation but is now exported to the Scottish Area Gas Evacuation (SAGE) pipeline and terminal at St. Fergus. The gas export compressors are monitored on this platform, in addition to other machines. Data here will also be stored in the PI data historian.

With 25 years offshore platform experience in the North Sea, B&K Vibro has fine-tuned the monitoring solution for a number of different machines, applications and operators. The latest addition of Britannia, Armada, Lomond, North Everest and Beryl A platforms to the fleet of platforms already monitored by B&K Vibro significantly increases the contribution that the VC-8000 Setpoint system delivers to the UK energy market. Soon more than 20% of UK’s gas consumption will be effectively monitored by VC-8000 at every moment.

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