Volume: 1 | Issue: 1

Final Commissioning and Initial Startup Workshop

An SPE Applied Technology Workshop (ATW) on final commissioning and initial startup (FCSU) was recently held in New Orleans. The workshop committee chose several main topics:

  • Treatment of hydrotest water for subsea flowlines
  • Waterflood commissioning and startup
  • Methanol system design
  • Rotating equipment commissioning and vibration
  • Chemical system startup

An appealing aspect of SPE’s ATW is the small size (fewer than 100 people), which allows the conversation to flow freely.

One of the lessons learned from the first FCSU workshop held in 2010 in San Antonio, Texas, was that it takes only simple questions to start topical discussions. To make more time for discussions, the FCSU committee limited presentation time.

Below are summaries of each of the topics.

Treatment of Hydrotest Water

Hydrotest water often remains in flowlines and pipelines for extended periods of time and can result in corrosion and biological growth. Chemicals used to prevent these issues are toxic and present potential disposal issues. The co-chair of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers task group responsible for the development of a hydrotest water treatment standard presented a summary of the group’s work. Two presentations rounded out the session: a summary of environmental discharge regulations, and a case study of a deepwater flowline that was accidentally flooded.

Waterflooding and Commissioning

Waterflood systems present unique challenges for startup and commissioning including high flowrate, high-pressure water injection pumps, novel technologies not commonly used by offshore operators (e.g., deaeration, membrane filtration), waterhammer issues, reservoir surveillance and protection issues. Because of the general unfamiliarity of oil industry personnel with waterflood systems (only four participants had waterflood startup experience), the first presentation was a primer on waterflood systems. That was followed by presentations on chemical treatment and surveillance requirements for waterflood startup, and differences in waterflood startups.

Methanol System Design

At the first FCSU ATW, methanol system problems were a major topic. These systems serve several important functions in commissioning and startup, but are frequently plagued by problems. The workshop formed a working committee to develop preliminary guidelines on methanol system design. The committee’s results were presented and key findings will
be reported in an SPE paper in the near future.

Rotating Equipment Commissioning and Vibration

Startup of major rotating equipment items including compresssors, water injection pumps, and oil export pumps are major events that often determine success. Several recent high-profile “failures” at startup were identified. The current state of the art in rotating equipment startup and identified issues will be further developed for the next workshop.

Chemical System Commissioning and Startup

Attendees at the first workshop were asked what topics they wanted to cover in the second workshop. Chemical system startup was the second most frequently mentioned topic (after methanol systems). This session included presentations on best practices in demulsifier testing at startup, best practices for chemical system startup, and a case study on the startup of a monoethylene glycol injection system.

Other presentations at the workshop covered topics such as pre-startup safety reviews, chemical treatment of slop and ballast tanks for souring prevention, commissioning planning, and leak testing.

Plans for 2012

The committee has started discussions on lessons learned for this year’s program. The high-energy discussion topics include rotating equipment startup and control systems tuning and will likely be included in future workshops. The new safety and environmental management system rules for the Gulf of Mexico is another topic of interest. SPE plans to hold two workshops on FCSU this year, one in the United States and the other in Europe.

Howard Duhon is the systems engineering manager at GATE and is a member of the Editorial Board of Oil and Gas Facilities.



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