Operations Excellence Begins in Design

Topics: Facilities planning and maintenance Gas conversion (LNG/GTL) Processing systems/design
Photo courtesy of ConocoPhillips
Liquefied natural gas plant in Darwin, Australia

Achieving production and availability targets is paramount to the ultimate success of any liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) project. Both are important factors in any life-cycle economic analysis. The focus on true operational excellence must begin early in the design phase and remain endemic throughout. This paper focuses on common design pitfalls and oversights within the LNG industry and presents several methods or techniques to avoid them. While the techniques and methods presented are not new to the oil and gas industry, they are often not used within the LNG industry.


The first and foremost consideration in almost any process design is defining feed conditions and product specifications properly. Ideally, this should occur well before beginning process design, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case. Because most recognize the importance of defining feed pressure, feed temperature, and product specifications, these particular variables are generally well-defined. However, accurately characterizing feed compositions and quantifying feed contaminants remain common industry oversights. The lack of diligence in these areas can and does lead to numerous operating problems, some of which are difficult and costly to address.

Many critical project considerations are involved in the process, equipment, and piping design. Design oversights with this type of work process are common, often resulting in late design changes and rework. To avoid added cost and schedule delays, many smaller design oversights discovered later in design are simply accepted. A question frequently and understandably asked in later project phases is, “Will it work?” Seldom in later project phases is the question asked, “Will it work well?” Naturally, once the perceived cost of correcting a problem becomes greater than the perceived benefit, the focus on operations excellence cannot endure.

Therefore, it is of paramount importance to eliminate as many design oversights as possible early in the project timeline.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper IPTC 18566, “Operations Excellence Begins in Design,” by Wesley R. Qualls, ConocoPhillips, prepared for the 2015 International Petroleum Technology Conference, Doha, Qatar, 7–9 December. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2015 International Petroleum Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
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Operations Excellence Begins in Design

01 April 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 4