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Calibration is a key to refinery success

01 July 2008

An integrated calibration solution has been installed at the Shell Pernis refinery to meet the demanding safety and regulatory requirements of the sites many process plants and installations. Intrinsically safe calibrators provide an integrated solution that meets the refinery’s demanding safety and regulatory requirements.

Shell Pernis processes around 20 million tons of crude oil each year
Shell Pernis processes around 20 million tons of crude oil each year

Shell Pernis refinery is one of the largest and most extensive petrochemical complexes in the world. Shell Nederland Raffinaderij processes raw materials, predominantly crude oil; Shell Nederland Chemie converts part of the refined products into chemical products. The refinery processes about twenty million tons/yr of crude oil, which is imported through the company’s Europort oil terminal.

Ed de Jong is instrument maintenance engineer for the various process units for the Pernis refinery, focusing on maintenance strategy, field instrumentation, benchmarking, and legal compliance to such matters as CO2 emissions, based on fuel measurements. He is convinced that: “Calibration is a very important part of the refinery’s control and automation. Until recently, calibration was mainly driven by economic motives; even the smallest of errors in delivery quantities are unacceptable in Shell’s operation due to the vast sums of money involved for both customers and governments – through fiscal metering.”

Presently, calibration has an important role especially for the license to operate. For the efficient combustion in furnaces and the associated emissions, the calibration of instruments is crucial. Government regulations demand that specific instruments must be calibrated, for example instruments related to CO2 and NOx emissions. Instruments associated with safety systems must also be regularly calibrated and the results documented in accordance with the IEC 61511 standard.

“One of the most important aspects of implementing an integrated calibration system was the need to meet regulatory requirements and audits related to CO2/ NOx emissions,” de Jong explained. Periodic calibrations must be performed, the records must be stored and the data needs to be available and easily accessible during the audits.

The CMX Calibration Software – supplied to Shell by Beamex – is GID scripted and conforms to Shell’s proprietary worldwide IT system. And it can easily be extended by acquiring additional user licenses. This means that the Beamex calibration system is utilised as an international calibration solution for Shell,” said de Jong. The system is in use in other sites as well, even outside The Netherlands. In Germany, CMX Calibration Software and MC5 Multifunction Calibrators are operating as a standalone application; the intention is to migrate the system to the GID scripted version of the CMX. Several other Shell plants are also investigating the use of this calibration system.

The system exists to provide a secure, automated and auditable instrument validation and calibration infrastructure with an interface to the SAP system. This prevents non-compliance with Dutch emission authorities and other calibration requirements for critical instruments. Secondly, the calibration system needs to provide automatic exchange of scheduling data between CMX and SAP. It is the intent that the work-management system within SAP will be connected to the CMX Calibration Software, so that management can see business statistics such as overdues and instruments outside specification.”

“One of the most important aspects of implementing the calibration system was the need to meet regulatory requirements and audits related to CO2/NOx emissions,” explained de Jong. In the refinery, emission-related instruments are considered to be critical, as they are associated with the ‘license to operate’. At the moment, the calibrated flow, pressure and temperature instruments associated with CO2 and NOx emissions are entered into the CMX. Due to the great potential of the calibration software, the intention is to add the other critical instruments, such as custody transfer and instruments related to IEC 61511, into the CMX.

Workflow is controlled by the work-management system, whereby instruments are planned/scheduled for calibration on a yearly basis. The calibration procedures and calibration results are stored in the CMX. The calibrators provide the ‘as found/as left’ condition of the instrument, with associated calibration information. The CMX software stores the calibration results so that a calibration history can be built up and presented to regulatory/government authorities. A requirement is that complete electronic records can be maintained and that this information is stored in a robust environment.

Currently the calibration system is predominantly used to support compliance with IEC 61511 guidelines. Based on this knowledge, it was easy for Shell Pernis to decide which route to follow and no other options were even evaluated.

Both the Shell Pernis and Shell Moerdijk locations use CMX Calibration Software in a network environment and MC5 Multifunction Calibrators. The functionality of the CMX includes calibration history trend, report design, audit trail and SAP connector. The MC5-IS has calibration capabilities for pressure, temperature, electrical and frequency signals. The instrument is Hart enabled and communicates seamlessly with calibration software. Using documenting calibrators with calibration software can remarkably improve the efficiency and quality of the entire calibration process.

The Shell Global Solutions testing facility has also been evaluating the MC5 Fieldbus Calibrator for the calibration of Foundation Fieldbus transmitters and it is a solution that can be used at the Shell Pernis refinery or other Shell locations.

The implementation of an integrated calibration system was justified on reputation, license to operate and quality. “Cost savings are also anticipated,” added de Jong. Beamex and its local sales partner in The Netherlands – HPR Techniek – have trained all personnel involved in calibration activities. Training is an important aspect of an efficient implementation of a calibration system; it ensures that Shell can make the most from their calibration investment.

Intrinsically safe calibrators
The use of intrinsically safe calibrators is necessary to be able to comply with ATEX and IECEx guidelines. They provide the functionality and performance of regular industrial calibration devices, but with the added benefits that they are the safest option, and are the only choice of technique which can be used in Zone 0 environments. The Beamex range, selected by Shell, provides safety by supporting compliance with IEC 61511 and other regulatory guidelines, allows the use of calibration software in a network environment and is capable of integrating with an SAP Maintenance Management System.

Intrinsically safe calibrators are finding many uses in potentially explosive environments, such as oil refineries. They are technically different from regular industrial calibrators making them safe, incapable of causing ignition. The surface of the device is made of conductive material and the battery is usually slower to charge and it discharges quicker. Intrinsically safe calibrators are the only technique permitted for Zone 0 environments.

Calibration solutions meet even the most demanding requirements of process instrumentation worldwide.
Intrinsically safe calibrators provide safety by supporting compliance with IEC 61511 and are certified according to the ATEX scheme, it ensures the calibrators are fit for their intended purpose and that sufficient information is supplied with them to ensure that they can be used safely. They are unlike many other intrinsically safe equipment in that they operate with chargeable batteries.

The Beamex MC5-IS Intrinsically Safe Multifunction Calibration is a high accuracy, all-in-one calibrator, allowing efficiency improvements - the need for manual recording of calibration data is eliminated and the quality and productivity of the entire calibration process is improved. The company offers a comprehensive range of products and services – from portable calibrators to workstations, calibration accessories, calibration software, industry-specific solutions and professional services.

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