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Control System Simplifies Gas Terminal Operation

Multinational energy company Total saved time and money by using OPC Link to connect ABB’s System 800xA system with a third-party Emergency Shutdown (ESD) system and third-party PLC systems.

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The automation system for one of the United Kingdom's largest gas terminals is being fitted with ABB's 800xA control system. The Saint Fergus Gas Terminal, 60km north of Aberdeen in Scotland, receives and processes gas from over 20 North Sea fields, accounting for 15 percent of the UK's daily gas requirements.

It is responsible for transporting offshore gas to shore, receiving the gas onshore, processing the gas to National Grid specifications, delivering the gas to shippers and ensuring a balance between supply and demand. Gas transported through the terminal consists mainly of methane, together with heavier natural gas liquids such as butane and propane.

The Saint Fergus Gas Terminal is owned by Total, a multinational energy company committed to leveraging innovation and initiative to provide a sustainable response to humankind’s energy requirements. The fourth largest publicly-traded integrated oil and gas company* and a world-class chemicals manufacturer, Total operates in more than 130 countries and has 95,000 employees.
For the past 17 years, the Saint Fergus facility has operated a MOD 300 system from ABB, a global supplier of automation and power technologies based in Zurich, for its automation needs. Total evolved the MOD 300 system at Saint Fergus to System 800xA to take advantage of the additional functionality offered by the 800xA. The upgrade includes six Process Portal operator workplaces, six AC 460 controllers (for 2,500 S800 I/O signals) and two engineering stations.

OPC Link was utilized to connect a third-party emergency shutdown (ESD) system and third-party PLC systems to ABB’s System 800xA.

Total needed to upgrade the system in the easiest possible way. This was done by upgrading the control system with System 800xA AC 460 controllers, which can transfer existing CCF and TCL language applications directly and intact. This means there is no need to retrain engineers, reducing disruption and the possibility of errors.

With other systems, the cost would be higher for the customer, as it would take longer to install because of the need to migrate software onto another platform. Here, ABB is conducting a hot changeover, introducing another backbone while the system is still working, and then transferring control from one to the other.

System 800xA extends the scope of traditional control systems to include all automation functions in a single operations and engineering environment, allowing plants to perform efficiently at substantially lower cost.

Marc Wepierre, project manager for the refurbishment project for Total, says: “With ABB's System 800xA, we are moving to a product that gives us much more functionality and which is easier to maintain. We can evolve it to new technology in the future, so it will always be serviceable.”

The refurbishment involves the replacement of two small individual PLCs with remote I/O, providing better integration and control and more efficiency.
ABB is also supplying an Extended Operator Workplace (EOW), an ergonomically optimized workstation, which is designed to enhance the operator's working environment and effectiveness with features that reduce fatigue and extend the operator's range of control and understanding. Incorporating a 2.2m wide, contoured high-resolution screen, as well as flat screen monitors, the EOW includes an ergonomically designed desk that can be adjusted to suit the needs and working style of individual operators.

For more information on ABB control systems, visit

* based on market capitalization at year-end 2006


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