A Chinese Cracker _Shanghai SECC


                            The world’s largest installation of Foundation Fieldbus has
                            recently gone into commercial operation at China’s largest
                                petrochemical complex. Mike Spear reports from Shanghai
                                 on this record-breaking project involving ten,
                                 centrally controlled, worldscale plants

A Chinese cracker
Starting with bare         WHEN the Shanghai SECCO Petrochemical            to engineering and project management,
ground reclaimed from      Company’s new complex went into full             under which each key plant in the complex
the sea, the SECCO         commercial operation at the Shanghai             had a lead project contractor. With 10 EPC
petrochemical complex      Chemical Industry Park on 26 June, it            (engineering, procurement, construction)
was constructed in         marked the culmination of a remarkable           contractors operating on the 2.2km2 site,
record time — from         project. Not only is the $2.7billion, 10-plant   there was clearly a need for a high degree of
the driving of the first   ethylene cracker complex the largest of its      co-ordination.
of 30 000 piles in         kind in the People’s Republic, it was               The contractors were a mix of
March 2002, through        completed — from bare ground reclaimed           international operators — ABB Lummus,
the start of plant         from the sea, to a fully integrated 2.3million   Technip, AMEC and CTCI for example —
construction at the        tpa multi-product facility — in just 27          and local Chinese EPCs such as Sinopec
beginning of 2003, to      months, three months ahead of a schedule         Engineering. ‘With so many contractors,’
full commercial            that was already some six months shorter         says SECCO’s styrenics process control
operation in June 2005     than the norm for similar sized crackers.        manager, Danny McHugh, ‘it was realised
                              The complex was mechanically complete         that partnering with one main automation
                           by last December, with the first downstream      supplier early on — using a Main
                           plants going on stream (using imported           Instrument Vendor (MIV) approach —
                           feedstock) in February this year.                would be critical for the project’s success.’
                           Subsequent start-up of the 900 000tpa               The decision to go with fieldbus was
                           ethylene cracker in March took just 10           made in 2001 when BP was reviewing
                           hours and 45 minutes, a world record for a       technologies and setting goals for the
                           project on this scale according to SECCO, a      SECCO project. The company viewed
Reprinted from             joint venture between BP and the Chinese         Foundation Fieldbus (FF) as ‘a leading
                           companies Sinopec and Shanghai                   edge, but mature technology’, so proven
                           Petrochemical Corporation (SPC).                 experience of implementing this field
                              From the outset, rather than using an         communications technology was a crucial
                           overall project management contractor,           factor in the choice of MIV. Beating off
        September 2005     SECCO used an integrated team approach           strong competition from four other control
                                                                     The nerve centre of the entire SECCO complex houses the DeltaV operator stations
                                                                      for all ten plants, providing a level of centralised control that would not have been
                                                                      feasible without the implementation of Foundation Fieldbus across all operations

companies for the $45million control and      considerable amounts of cabling, a                   for each of the 10 plants.
automation contract, Emerson Process          conservative approach was taken to the                  As Brinly says, none of the EPC
Management was appointed MIV in               number of devices connected on each                  contractors particularly welcomed the MIV
February 2003. With its own established       segment. Designs were limited to no more             approach — they would have preferred to
offices, test and staging facilities in the   than 12 devices, and the average ended up            go through their own bidding processes to
booming Pudong area of Shanghai,              as five devices per segment, where each              appoint automation suppliers for their own
Emerson’s experience in the region            segment varies between two to 11 devices.’           parts of the mega project — ‘but they got on
included several other major plants, acting      Although BP had already used FF on                with it’. Given the tight schedules and the
as main automation contractor for a seven-    other projects, none of the other partners           fact that all the plants were being
plant complex for BASF in Nanjing, and        had any experience of the technology and             engineered and constructed at the same
managing the instrumentation for Bayer        Emerson’s role was seen as crucial to the            time, SECCO saw this as the only way to
Caojing, a project which used more than       success or failure of the project. As                achieve the necessary engineering
300 FF devices and went on line in            SECCO’s deputy project director, Jack                consistency and co-ordination.
September 2002.                               Brinly, explains: ‘Our control team in                  The first stage in the process was to set
                                              SECCO at the beginning, as a new company,            up a core team drawn from SECCO and
Worldscale all round                          was maybe eight or nine people. We needed            Emerson to develop the Functional Design
SECCO, however, is on a vastly different      help and experience. The complexity of the           Specification (FDS, see panel on page 21),
scale. Across the 10 plants and utilities     project and the project execution strategy —         which defined the set of standards to be
there are over 48 000 control loops, with     with 10 different EPCs — meant that we               adopted for implementation on all the
about 166 000 I/O tags and around 25 000      needed standardisation of equipment and a            projects. According to McHugh, ‘the most
points hardwired to the automation system.    consistency of engineering across multiple           important aspect of the project management
There are 40 000 instruments and some         work packages.’ Which is where the MIV               was consistent systems management, and
13 000 intelligent devices networked in the   approach came into its own. As the main              the FDS was fundamental to this.’
world’s largest Foundation Fieldbus           automation supplier, Emerson not only                   Emerson provided separate teams for
installation. In total there are 2500 FF      engineered and implemented the control               each of the 10 plants, rather than having a
segments. Adrian Howell, SECCO’s process      systems — based on its PlantWeb                      single team moving from one plant to the
control manager, says that ‘while we knew     architecture — but also helped manage the            next, and also appointed a program director
that a fieldbus approach would save           multiple international and local suppliers           and engineering and quality manager to

                                                                                                                        PROCESS ENGINEERING | SEPTEMBER 05
                                                                                                                              CONTROL & AUTOMATION
                                                                                                                              FIELD COMMUNICATIONS

oversee all 10 plants. In all, the company           still huge [there are over 70 000 cables             intrinsically safe (IS) segments on the
had around 110 personnel involved at any             throughout the complex], but a fraction of           fieldbus networks, ‘basically because all the
one time, including 68 DCS engineers and             what would have been needed with                     plants have been designed to Exd
20 field instrument engineers.                       conventional technology. The fieldbus                (explosion-proof) standards rather than IS,
   Apart from its importance to the goal of a        provides the platform to collect, analyse            which fitted in better with the experiences
fast start-up, the MIV approach was also             and share operational and diagnostics                of the multiple contractors involved.’ He
critical to SECCO’s radical strategy of using        information to the 750 operations,                   estimates that less than 10% of all
a single control room for all 10 plants.             engineering and maintenance personnel                instrumentation was of non-Emerson
Compared by Brinly to NASA’s mission                 manning the complex.’                                supply (with much of that being on
control centre at Houston — ‘but around 15              The central control room is connected             packaged plant with preconfigured
times the size’ — this impressive nerve              via fibre optic cabling to 14 outstations            instrumentation).
centre of the whole complex houses the               adjacent to the plants and containing the               Although the scope of the MIV did not
operator interfaces for all 10 DeltaV                system cabinets. These in turn are                   include control valves, many of these are
distributed control systems controlling and          connected to the field devices mainly over           fitted with Fisher digital valve controllers
overseeing the main ethylene cracker and             FF and, in some cases, HART or Modbus.               and positioners. Sinopec Engineering’s
the nine downstream derivative plants,               The latter protocol was used particularly on         deputy chief engineer, Huang BuYu,
‘something that would not have been                  the analyser systems, while the safety               explains that all basic regulatory control
possible without the FF technology,’                 instrumented systems (SIS) and emergency             on the complex is in the field devices. ‘In
according to Howell.                                 shutdown systems from Hima and Tyco                  the event of a controller fault or
   Jack Brinly says the technology enabled           were conventional 4-20mA.                            disengagement,’ he says, ‘field
economic wiring, space savings and faster               In terms of hazardous area operations,            instruments will continue to execute and
commissioning. ‘The number of wires was              McHugh says there are not that many                  operate the process at set point.’ Again,

  A template for successful project management
  ‘When you look at the complexity       the all important functional design   graphics and control models. The      by Emerson’s program director,
  of building 10 units at one time,      specifications (FDS) over five        simulation was also fine-tuned for    Stanley Ee.
  and asking all of them to start up     months. This was the crucial          one of the polyethylene processes        The scope of the FDS was all
  in a short timeframe with              document — all 1000 pages, 14         to enable better understanding of     embracing. From the overall
  minimum disruption, it’s pretty        sections and 14 appendices of it      the process when writing the          system architecture drawings and
  amazing’, says Jack Brinly,            — that was required to have all       sequences template.                   description, through Foundation
  SECCO’s deputy project director.       the contractors singing from the         The engineering manager of the     Fieldbus segment design, to
  ‘At the beginning BP felt there was    same hymn sheet.                      core FDS team eventually became       system cabinet and wiring design,
  no possibility of finishing before        Once written, the FDS was          the master editor of the design       and on to operator interfacing and
  June 2005, but the last process        presented to the control managers     specifications — every new            then the asset management
  unit was commissioned and put on       of all plants for review and fine     module anywhere in the plant          system, every element of the
  line in March — three months           tuning. For example, a simulation     needed to be created by him, to       control systems for the overall
  earlier than planned.’                 was created of one heater of the      keep the ten-plant complex            complex was precisely specified in
     By any standards, the SECCO         ethylene cracker, which enabled       consistent. He also became the        a way that brooked no argument
  project was an impressive feat of      further refining of the               ‘master trainer’, which is seen as    (well, perhaps some, but mostly
  engineering. Not only was the 10-      specifications with all the various   the key to the successful start-ups   lost) from the disparate contractors
  plant complex completed and                                                                                        and suppliers.
  commissioned ahead of schedule,                                                                                       A feature of Emerson’s role as
  but the project recorded no major                                                                                  Main Instrument Vendor was the
  accidents and zero fatalities during                                                                               degree to which the company used
  construction — which included                                                                                      indigenous resources as far as
  more than 50million manhours of                                                                                    possible. With its own established
  labour from a workforce that                                                                                       4000m2 centre in nearby Pudong,
  peaked at a total of 12 500.                                                                                       Emerson was able to maximise
     With ten different contractors                                                                                  local engineering involvement and
  involved, SECCO’s own integrated                                                                                   use its local facilities for assembly
  project management team worked                                                                                     and wiring, staging, integration,
  with an Emerson team to develop                                                                                    and customer acceptance testing.

                                                                                                                            PROCESS ENGINEERING | SEPTEMBER 05

  Mega scale - and more to come
  SECCO came fully on stream not long after the       would allow the addition of two more plants if
  BASF-YPC joint venture complex at Nanjing           necessary) and their required utilities such as
  (see PE, July/August, p4). The latter is slightly   power and wastewater treatment facilities.
  smaller — its nine plants, based around a           Each of the ten is among the largest of its kind
  600 000tpa ethylene cracker, output some            in the world. The main 900 000tpa ethylene
  1.7million tpa of products compared with            cracker generates feedstock for the other
  SECCO’s 2.3million tpa — but the scale of both      plants, which respectively produce 600 000tpa
  gives an indication of the current state of the     of polyethylene, 250 000tpa polypropylene,
  booming Chinese economy. And to these can           500 000tpa styrene, 300 000tpa polystyrene,
  be added a third megascale complex in the           260 000tpa acrylonitrile, 200 000tpa of
  country, the Shell j-v at Huizhou with an           aromatics, and 90 000tpa of butadiene.
  800 000tpa cracker.                                 Another plant in the complex producing MMA
      However, demand in China is such that even      (methyl methacrylate) is owned by Lucite, but
  if another SECCO-sized were to be built every       operated under contract by SECCO.
  four or five years, the country would still need       Apart from the SECCO complex, the 29.4km2
  to continue importing petrochemicals. With a        Park is already home to, among others, a
  virtual replica of SECCO already slated for an      BASF PTHF (polytetrahydrofuran) plant, a
  adjacent site on the Shanghai Chemical              BASF/Huntsman MDI/TDI project, several
  Industry Park (SCIP), that situation might          integrated plants operated by Bayer, and a
  change, of course, in which case the world’s        Degussa polyester project that started
  petrochemical producers will find themselves        construction last September.
  competing with not just worldscale operations,         According to SCIP’s director for technology,
  but world class ones at that.                       Li Guo Hua, the goal is to build a world class
      In detail, SECCO currently comprises ten        chemical park to rival those at Houston,           Robust Foundation Fieldbus cabling networks the
  separate plants (there are plans in place that      Antwerp and Jurang (Singapore).                    digital Fisher control valves that feature ‘Control in
                                                                                                         the Field’ capabilities with integral PID control

this is something that would not have                 system that will gradually come into its           the maintenance schedule can incorporate
happened without FF.                                  own with the passage of time is Emerson’s          delays accordingly. This is a clear
    ‘The choice was made to locate PID                asset management system, an integral part          advantage over traditional plants that may
algorithms at the point of final control — in         of the PlantWeb architecture. AMS                  tear down and rebuild equipment every two
the valve controller,’ says Stanley Ee,               ValveLink, for example, is being used to           years, whether or not it is needed.’
Emerson’s program director. ‘This "Control            obtain valve signatures as the complex                According to Danny McHugh,
in the Field (CIF)" helps give the improved           settles down to full operation. These will         implementing Foundation Fieldbus on
reliability of a truly distributed control            enable SECCO to monitor valve status and           such a scale was seen as something of a risk
system. It also significantly reduces the             take action to optimise performance and            at the start, but ‘BP had already used it and
[need for] communication between the                  avoid abnormal situations.                         it was thought that not to use FF would
automation system and the field devices,                 With the first shutdown of the cracker          make the plants obsolete much earlier than
further adding to increased reliability.’             not scheduled until 2009, and the other            would otherwise be the case.’
    Only single-loop control was                      plants on a two-year schedule, asset                  And a mere four years on from that
implemented in the valves, however. All               management will play a vital role in               decision, Stuart Mountfield, SECCO’s
complicated control, such as cascade and              keeping the complex at peak performance.           control systems project engineering
multi-element strategies, is done in the              ‘The predictive diagnostics of PlantWeb            manager, can now say: ‘We have proven
DeltaV systems. Control function blocks               and AMS Suite will help optimise our               that Foundation Fieldbus works, and works
could be performed in any of the field                maintenance plan,’ adds Howell, ‘enabling          on a large scale. I don’t see any reason for
devices or in the automation system, since            personnel to focus directly on the problems,       any project anywhere in the world not to
‘it is an easy drag-and-drop software                 which will greatly improve efficiency and          use this technology. It works and it’s
choice’, explains Howell. ‘This easy                  minimize downtime. Knowing what the                robust.’ A satisfied customer indeed.        PE
configuration will save time as we modify             problems are beforehand, the staff can
our ever-changing plant.’                             schedule maintenance and obtain the
    Another feature of the overall control            needed parts. Where there are no problems,         www.EmersonProcess.com/PlantWeb