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Computers them. Engng Vol. 20, Suppl., pp. SI U.

-S1 129, 1996

Copyright 0 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd
Pergamon SOO98-1354(%)00195-O Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
009%l354/96 $15.00+0.00

Advanced Control System for Crude Oil Plant - A Case Study

Marinoiu V., Paraschiv N.

Patrascioiu Cr., Cartoaje V.

Departament of Process Control, University “Oil - Gaz” Ploiesti, Romania

Abstract - Because of its place and implications in the processing oil system, the
crude oil plant has a special importance. With big material fluxes and important energy
consumption, the crude oil plant presents a really interest for an increase of general
efficiency through advanced control. In this paper are presented the results of the
investigations made by the authors, for the development and industrial implementation of
advanced control structure for crude oil plant.

1. Introduction

The crude oil plant installation that was investigated has a 3.5 milion ton/year capacity and was
constructed 20 years ago. The refinery proposed itself to modernize the installation by point of view both of
automation and a few technological aspects.
The team of authors of present paper was directly involved in the automation modernizing by its passing
from the conventional automation to the advanced automation. Both parts, the beneficiary (the refinery) and the
producer (the paper’s authors) were confronted with two basis conditions:
- the economic efficiency increase by passing to the advanced automation;
- low financial resources.
So, the authors had to solve the advanced automation problem of this crude oil plant in the above

2. Description of the crude unit

The crude unit is shown schematically in figure 1. The plant contains three columns: the “zero” tower, the
atmospheric tower and the naphta stabailiser. From “zero” tower, that cuts the light naphta, the crude oil is
pumped through two furnaces in the atmospheric tower. This column takes a full cut naphta, as its overhead
product, and four sidecuts: kerosenel, kerosene 2, LGO (light gaz oil) and HGO (heavy gas oil). There are two
pumparound circuits: TPA (top pumparound) and BPAS (Bottom pumparound).

3. Analysis of basically automation

The plant has basic loops for temperature, flow, level and pressure control, with analogical and numerical
controllers. From the measure and analyse equipment six analysers are remarked: naphta and end point, kerosene2
initial and end points, light gas oil initial point and heavy gas oil initial point.
From analysis of basically automation two conclusion were very important:
- many control loops are set on manual;
- although maintained in function with a greater effort, the indications of on line analysers are little used
unit operation.
From basically loops, with decisive implications for implementation of the upper hierarchical level of
advanced control, the level control loops in the stripper are very important. Because me flow rates of sideproducts
are essentially commands for advanced control, the effect of these on the atmospheric tower is possible only with
the level loops in stripper set on automatic. The plant analysis has indicated that three from the four level loops
were set on manual because of the fault of butterfly control valves, arranged between the stripper and the tower.
Because of the space limitations, the butterfly control valves are mounted without isolation valves, and therefore
interventions are not possible when the plan works. In this situation all four butterfly control valves were
interchanged with better control valves.
Current plant operation needs frequent intervention of plant personal. The lack of the cmde oil TBP curve
and the plant state estimation with labs analyses (which means 8 ... 10 hours lag) led to little efficiency in

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4. Process modelhg

Besides the practical plant data, the mathematical simulation model of the plant was very useful for the
advanced control system development. For the purposes of this paper was chosen a mathematical model, whose
structure has the origin in Watkins’s work [5], crude oil and products beeing expressed with distillation curves.
The simulation with developed model was very useful in estimating the influence of commands and iu
estimating the distillation curve of crude oil, respectively the dependence between this curve and the feed forward
control of column on the basis of heat balance.
To estimate the dynamic of the important tower channels experimental determinations were used.

5. The structure of advanced control system for crude unit

The advanced control structure developed by the authors performs the following functions:
- control of the principal material flux (crude oil - feed of atmospheric tower - feed of vacuum tower);
- pass - balancing control for furnaces;
- combined control of separated products quality.
The control system of the principal material flux and the pass - balancing for furnace were developed and
implemented in the plant a year ago [3,4]. The run of this system corresponded to the plant personal demands.
The control of overhead and sidestream product qualities represent the central target in this phase.
The basic aspect of the control system for product qualities are:
- the control is combined, feedback and feed forward (figure 2);
- the crude oil quality is estimated by inferential TBP distillation curve;
- heat stabilised by feed forward control after flash section temperature

stationary and dynamically

Figure 2. Crude
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6. Control equipment

The basis conditions for this project, which are the economic efficiency increase by passing to the
advanced control and the low financial resources, led to the solution for control equipment presented in figure 3.
Without being a dedicated distribuited control system, the control equipment with the structure pointed in figure 3
has a proper performances/ price ratio .
The basis level which is the first level of the equipment, contains numerical controllers; the second level
of the system has an industrial PC. The numerical controllers, that solve the problems of basis loops, are connected
with the computer with individual serial buses, which are multiplexed; this solution providing controller galvanic
isolation. This star connection structure of the controller ensures a suitable reliability of the system.
The computer situated at the upper hierarchical level solves the advanced control problems.
Analogical signal, unificated 4 ... 20 mA and non unificated (from thermocouples), associated to
measured process variables are introduced through proper adaptation and multiplexion in computer.
Applied programs are developed in C language under RTKC - 4.5 operating system. The executiv kernel
RTKC - 4.5 was proved to be a powerful multitasking system, in real time, performant for industrial applications,
supervision and advanced control of tehnological process.

Printer CRT

Industrial PC



Numerical mV Inputs

Figure 3. Control equipment structure.

7. Conclusions

The working of automation modernizing is developing now, the implementation and the commencement
of production closing date being April, 1996.
The main conclusions resulted till now are:
- the technical literature offers different solutions for advanced control structures for crude oil plant, but
only on a principle level, so these conditions have insufficient data (this matter of fact is due to the own interest of
the firms which hold the licence) [ 1,2];
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- the practical data which the authors confronted were very various, many of these being specific to the
refinery (the proprietor of the investigated installation);
- the problems of the mathematical modelling and simulation of the installation are complex and they
present a specific character which take into consideration the particularity of the crude oil plant;
- the restriction imposed by the low financial resources has generated a specific note in the selecting of the
control equipment.


1. *** Advanced Control for Crude Unite Atmospheric Distillation Towers. Bailey Control Company,
2. *** Crude Unit Advanced Control Experience. Icotron Ltd, Southampton SO1 7NP, July 1991.
3. Marinoiu V., Paraschiv N. Chemical Process Control. Bucharest, Editura Tehnica, 1992.
4. Marinoiu V., Patrascioiu Cr., Cartoaje V., Paraschiv N. Advanced Control System for Crude oil Plant.
9th International Conference on Control Systems and Computer Science, Bucharest, 25 - 28 May 1993.
5. Watkins N.R. Petroleum Refinery Distillation, Second Edition. Houston, Gulf Publishing Company,