Taking offshore operations onshore: Wärtsilä Power solution for normally unattended offshore installations
5 min read
23 Sep 2017
Jon Inge Buli
5 min read
23 Sep 2017
Get set to crank the efficiency of unattended offshore oil and gas operations up to the max thanks to the new Wärtsilä Power solution. Now, offshore assets will be able to operate for up to six months without the need for onsite personnel or scheduled maintenance on site.
As oil and gas companies continue to look for more efficient, less expensive and safer ways to operate offshore, demand is growing for power solutions that do not require regular inspections and maintenance on board. The Wärtsilä Power solution for normally unattended installations (NUIs) is a cost-effective, safe and reliable power-generation concept that combines highly efficient, low-emission Wärtsilä dual-fuel (DF) engines with sophisticated digital solutions, and is suitable for a wide variety of NUIs.
While some types of platforms are already adapted for unmanned operations, Wärtsilä’s objective is to take this development a step further and extend unmanned operational capabilities to Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) units, Floating Storage and Offloading Units (FSOs) and Production Platforms. Since these types of installations have a significantly greater power requirement, their need to identify and develop cost-effective solutions is also more urgent.
No need for permanent onsite crew
The Wärtsilä Power solution has been developed to enable all maintenance activities for NUIs to be performed efficiently using “walk to work” support vessels during scheduled maintenance campaigns, eliminating the need for permanent operational and maintenance crew on site. The solution can be extended to include the maintenance of power management, automation and auxiliary equipment. It is a holistic power solution that can be tailored according to the requirements of each individual installation and is supplied together with a power system, including high-efficiency Wärtsilä DF engines, generators and auxiliary systems installed in the engine room and designed for fully unmanned, or reduced-crew operations.
The solution is also supported by a variety of cutting-edge digital solutions. Firstly, the installation is continuously monitored using Wärtsilä remote condition monitoring and condition analysis. Operational data is measured by meters and sensors installed on site and transmitted via cyber-secured data transfer utilising a Wärtsilä Data Collection Unit to the Wärtsilä Expertise Centre, where it is analysed by Wärtsilä Expert Insight which combines Wärtsilä’s unique OEM expertise and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. A nominated Wärtsilä expert in the Expertise Centre analyses trends and remotely tunes engine performance via secured remote access through a service PC installed on site to diagnose the operating condition and determine what actions are required. Last but not the least, predictive maintenance is planned and scheduled, based on the collected data and remote equipment condition analysis, and is performed at optimised intervals by Wärtsilä’s highly skilled field service crew.
Service intervals of up to six months
Whereas traditional offshore power solutions require monitoring and regular inspections in which maintenance is carried out depending on the number of running hours of the engine, the Wärtsilä Power solution requires no such activities. The interval between maintenance campaigns can typically be extended for up to six months, and in the meantime, the equipment and its performance are constantly monitored and evaluated from a remote location, enabling remote detection and diagnosis to define actions to be taken during the next maintenance campaign, or immediately if required.
The Wärtsilä Power solution offers a wide variety of advantages designed to make power-generation leaner, safer and more cost effective. The use of highly efficient Wärtsilä DF engines leads to reliable power generation with low emissions, combined with increased fuel efficiency and fuel flexibility. Meanwhile, Wärtsilä’s remote monitoring and expertise help maximise uptime, leading to reduced Operational Expenditure (OpEx). Fewer man-hours on site also help reduce the Lost Time Incident Frequency (LTIF).
It is important to note that the Wärtsilä Power solution does not seek to eliminate the need for personnel but to transfer activities that previously had to be carried out offshore to an onshore environment, minimising the need for costly offshore monitoring and inspection activities and maximising maintenance activities onshore or in the workshop. For oil and gas companies, this has the potential to secure considerable cost savings, since onshore hours are significantly less costly than offshore hours. Other factors that contribute to leaner operations include the cutting of costs and emissions due to the reduced need to transport personnel into the field, and the elimination of offshore accommodation and facilities needed to support day-to-day life on the unit. This also reduces Capital Expenditure (Capex), since there is no need to invest in building accommodation, while the cost associated with classing the asset for living quarters is also eliminated.
Digital solutions to maximise uptime
The cost-effectiveness of the facility is further enhanced by the use of Wärtsilä’s state-of-the-art digital solutions, which maximise uptime and massively reduce the risk of unplanned incidents. Unlike a standardised approach, whereby the condition of the equipment is monitored through visual inspection, Wärtsilä’s remote condition-based monitoring and analysis ensures proactive monitoring and analysis of the engine’s running data, allowing anomalies to be detected and addressed before they become serious enough to cause a breakdown or, worse still, a safety risk.
In the oil and gas sector, where safety continues to be the number one priority, the Wärtsilä Power solution does not just offer cost-saving advantages. By transferring activities from a potentially hazardous offshore environment to an onshore remote control room and workshop, worker safety is dramatically enhanced. Furthermore, the opportunity to work onshore also contributes to improved work-life balance for personnel who will no longer be required to spend long weeks and months at sea.
Last but not least, remote condition-based monitoring and analysis can be used to detect operational changes at an early stage, providing additional time for corrective action to be taken to minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring at sea.
All these reasons show how digital solutions can help improve efficiencies across the board, ensuring safer and more reliable operations, making the Wärtsilä Power solution a key element of Wärtsilä’s vision for a Smart Marine ecosystem.
A customer-driven solution
At Wärtsilä, we work closely with our customers to develop solutions that directly fulfil their needs and expectations. This project was driven to a great extent by the North Sea oil companies, who are increasingly looking for ‘lean’ ways to make their operations safer, more cost-effective and more efficient. The Wärtsilä Power solution for NUIs is the result of a joint development project involving Wärtsilä, the oil companies and engineering companies.
This ground-breaking solution is currently the only reliable, highly efficient solution of its kind using fuel-flexible DF engines, which can provide up to six months’ operational time without any planned maintenance activities on site. Another factor that makes it unique is the unrivalled standard service based on cutting-edge digital and AI solutions in combination with Wärtsilä’s market-leading expertise and experience as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
Wärtsilä is an innovator and thought leader in its field with decades of experience developing equipment for the offshore market. The company also designs, engineers and delivers remotely monitored and remotely operated power plants all over the world. All this expertise and experience have been combined to develop this unique power solution concept specifically for NUIs.
Going forward, this kind of operational model will become more and more commonplace in newer oil and gas developments. This solution is simply the next logical step in the development of a smart offshore ecosystem for the future. At this stage, the leap to completely unmanned operations may only be something the most progressive, innovative oil companies are ready to consider. However, the same philosophy, lessons learned and knowledge gained can also be utilised to make manned operations leaner – which will perhaps be the first step in this evolution. We believe remote monitoring is the future and we are prepared to assist the customers who are ready to get on board.