Ove Ronny Haraldsen
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The plant may be small, but the consequences of a fault are vast,” explains Trygve Eriksen. He is Terminal Director for the Norwegian governmental company Gassco’s terminal for Norwegian gas in Easington, Great Britain.
The terminal supplies around 20 percent of all gas consumed in Great Britain, Europe’s largest consumer of gas. Securing supplies and safety at the plant are therefore of utmost importance. The grey, prison- like building provides a stark contrast to the green fields and the small village where the plant is located. On arrival, you have to enter via a vast iron gateway in a barbed wire fence several metres high. Then you pass through a new gateway in another fence, just as high and this time electric. Keys, mobile phones, lighters and any other objects which may be inflammable have to be left with the security guard.
The gas terminal in Easington is up and running 24/7 – all year round. The plant can only have 52 minutes of unscheduled downtime in a year. This places enormous requirements on the AIM control and surveillance system supplied by Kongsberg Maritime. “We need systems which work. Any stoppage in supplies from Norway and it’s not long before the British Energy Ministry is on the phone to his counterpart in Norway. Any problems we encounter can quickly evolve into high level politics,” explains Mr. Eriksen as we enter the very heart and brain of the terminal.
One wall of the control room is covered in large screens. In front of them are row upon row of computer monitors and control panels. Right in the very centre is the so-called critical control panel. This is used if anything were to go wrong and the system had to be overridden.
“The equipment works very well. It’s easy to monitor,” confirms operations technician Ben Dhamrait. Using the surveillance and control system, operations technician Ben Dhamrait, operations supervisor James Daley and instrument technician Mike Kilby make sure that every process is functioning properly when the gas has the correct temperature and pressure and when it is transported out of the plant. Challenging customer Bjørn Andersen from Kongsberg Maritime explains that the biggest challenge they face is the strict requirement on continuous operations.
“The extreme level of reliability required is a challenge. We have to work with a reaction time of zero. We have to be there immediately,” he explains. The Project Manager goes on to tell us that they are getting ready to run a technical study to make the plant even stronger. “We have to work on improvements and reconstructions while the plant is in operation, so we have to reassure the customer that this is something we can execute successfully,” he concludes.