The Kazakh Steppe – near the crossroads of Europe and Asia – is one of the largest dry grassland plain regions in the world.
And it’s huge.
It covers approximately 804,500 square kilometres and extends more than 2,200 kilometres from north of the Caspian Sea, with rivers and streams cutting through the grasslands that lie at the southern end of the Ural Mountains.
Its climate is one of extremes, influenced by wind: a constant presence that brings drought in summer, and snowstorms in winter.
But, deep beneath the surface is a giant reservoir – the Tengiz field. It’s one of the world’s deepest producing supergiant oil fields.
The world’s largest industrial automation project
And it’s here in the Tengiz field where a transformation is taking place.
Field operator, Tengizchevroil’s (TCO) Future Growth Project and Wellhead Pressure Management Project (FGP-WPMP) will see a significant expansion of the company’s facilities – adding considerably more processing, production gathering and sour gas re-injection capacity and capability.
The FGP will expand production by approximately 12 million tonnes per year/260,000 barrels per day to about 39 million tonnes per year/850,000 barrels per day. At the same time, the WPMP will keep the existing Tengiz plants full by lowering the flowing pressure at the wellhead and then boosting the pressure to the inlet requirements of the six existing processing trains.
The main FGP-WPMP equipment is being fabricated in Kazakhstan, South Korea and Italy, and will be pre-assembled into modules for transportation to Tengiz for final assembly.
And fittingly for one of the world’s largest, and deepest, operating oilfields, the automation system for this project is an embodiment of the industry’s increasing drive to capitalise on technology in this new digital age.
The benefits of being able to remotely control the processing facilities from the central control room will be significant. They include safely increased production, efficiency, profitability and return on investment.
The automation system itself will comprise a number of control and safety systems cabinets as well as control consoles. The Wood team is designing, building, testing and commissioning standalone remote instrument enclosures (RIEs) and is supporting the delivery of equipment for further module-based RIEs – the local “brains” that collect the signals from the input output (I/O) devices and run the automation.
There will be tens of thousands of these I/O devices, every one of which communicates a “value” to the automation system which can then, for example, turn devices like pumps on or off, or move a control valve to allow different amounts of oil, steam, water or other process fluids to flow.
Connecting automation with expertise
Wood was selected as the main automation contractor to manage the process automation, front end engineering, and design and engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning support for this integrated project.
Faced with such a significant scope, Wood had to develop and deploy an approach that has combined the megaproject expertise of around 350 personnel from its automation and control teams around the world, together with that of specialists from global technology firm Honeywell. All to ensure the system design and its technical specifications would ultimately deliver against the operator’s aspirations.
The company is also working with local subsidiary PSNK to perform in-country activities such as field surveys, engineering support, translation service and logistics support.
Karl Lieberman, project director at Wood, says, “The defining characteristic of this world-class project is its sheer size: it’s one of the largest and deepest fields of its kind in the world, and it’s one of the biggest industrial automation projects we’ve undertaken.”
“This has meant years of work with all the teams involved from countries around the world – from the UK, Kazakhstan, the US, South Korea, Italy and India – all based on a common goal to safely supersize this giant field,” Lieberman adds.
Another area where the advantages of global reach and influence has been apparent is providing project hardware.
As well as the RIEs, Wood is delivering equipment for the new operating facilities, as well as existing facility modifications, such as wellheads, control panels and machinery monitoring systems. It is also supplying process control automation and safety equipment.
The RIEs are built in Teeside and Kazakhstan; the process control automation equipment and safety equipment is built in Sofia, Bulgaria and Newhouse, Scotland. The wellhead control panel comes from England, and the control room furniture consoles are built in Sweden.
Wood has successfully completed most of the hardware shipments to either module yards or to Kazakhstan.
What has Wood made possible?
Ultimately, Lieberman says, the project creates a lasting impact for Kazakhstan as a whole that shouldn’t be underestimated.
“What this project will ultimately leave behind is a lasting engineering legacy for Kazakhstan,” he says.
“This project – which makes considerable use of local skills and expertise together with the very best international know-how – is set to make a deep, lasting impression on the country: leaving in its wake a world-class logistical and technological infrastructure that will significantly enhance Kazakhstan’s energy generating capabilities, something that will underpin the country’s future growth and prosperity for years to come.”