Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf (of Mexico) Coast hard, followed by Hurricane Rita which knocks out even more rigs and refineries. Saudi Aramco has scheduled shipments of crude to those refineries. Soon, the shipments are backing up. What to do? Cut production? Increase storage? Build up inventory? Redirect tankers?
The hurricanes that hit the United States were severe events that cost billions of dollars and hundreds of lives. They also caused gas prices to shoot up in the States. Like a pebble in a pond, the ripple effect was felt around the world. However, thanks to a combination of extraordinary, highly experienced people and leading edge technology, Saudi Aramco was able, literally, to weather the storms and continue to supply customers with the right mix of product and not cut back production. This is what OSPAS (the Oil Supply Planning and Scheduling Department) does every day. It is the operations heart of Saudi Aramco. OSPAS is the only organization in Saudi Aramco that has a global view, said Adel H. Al-Dossary, manager, OSPAS. Our mission is to manage
and optimize hydrocarbon sysKey OSPAS officials, from right: Adel H. tem capacities and inventories Al-Dossary, OSPAS to deliver quality products to manager; Mitrik M. AlShaalan, shift planning the customer at the right time coordinator; Essam and place with maximum net Al-Eissa, administrator, revenue to Saudi Aramco. Real-Time Systems Division; and Maan For most people in the Shami, group leader, world, the acronym OSPAS is Planning and Programs. devoid of meaning; few people even inside the company understand just how vital the organization is to the success of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia and our many customers around the world. The key to understanding OSPAS, is that the organization touches almost every aspect of Saudi Aramcos opera-
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OSPAS keeps Saudi Aramco running smoothly, even in a crisis
tions, said Al-Dossary. Its participation in virtually every project creates a solid foundation for the companys continued success. This is a case where the right hand definitely knows what the left hand is doing. OSPAS is composed of six divisions: Oil, Gas and Natural Gas Liquids, Terminal, Refined Products, and Supply Planning and Engineering. The department plans, schedules, coordinates and monitors movements (quantity and quality) of millions of barrels of crude oil daily from all Saudi Aramco wellheads to company terminals. In addition, the organization also tracks refined-product movements from five domestic and two joint venture refineries, 19 bulk plants, 18 air refueling sites, four Saudi Strategic Storage Program complexes, and 1,600 kilometers of refined-products pipeline. It also tracks gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) from five gas plants, three fractionation centers and more than 5,000 km of pipeline. Saudi Aramco also operates 44 export berths at five marine ports, loading millions of barrels of oil, products and natural gas each day onto enormous ocean-going tankers that can exceed 500,000 deadweight tons. OSPASs comprehensive system allows Saudi Aramco to know exactly where, in effect, every drop of its hydrocarbons is located at any instant in time. Though not technically a part of OSPAS, electrical power generation and distribution needs of Saudi Aramco are also carefully managed on the Operations
The biggest video wall Coordination Center (OCC) in the hydrocarbon Big Board. industry serves as a winBut despite its multifaceted dow into Saudi Aramco operations in oil, gas, mandate, the one virtue refining, terminal operaOSPAS obsesses about is teamtions and electric power. work. Communications is the byword; no one is ever left in the dark about any issue. Open communications across all divisions is an absolute requirement, said Al-Dossary. From our morning 7:05 meeting to the dozens of conference calls and quick meetings throughout the day, we are in easy communications with all Saudi Aramco operations people around the Kingdom and around the world. In addition, OSPAS recruits its members from all over the company including Sales and Marketing, Engineering, Exploration, Refining among many others in order to provide a complete view of Saudi Aramcos operations. In short, OSPASs people represent a cross-section of the company, and this bolsters the excellent coordination among Saudi Aramcos component parts. That is important because OSPAS majors on two interrelated jobs long-term planning and contingency planning. We are constantly planning for the future, said Ziyad A. Azzouz, general supervisor of the Oil Division. We try to anticipate everything that may affect the entire span of Saudi Aramco operations up to a decade and more in the future. Long-term planning puts concepts on paper. But the real world has a way of producing surprises at regular events.
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The long-term planning is constantly adapted, said Azzouz. We are proud of the fact that OSPAS has been able to rapidly and effectively make the critical decisions to blunt any harmful impact of disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Its like taking pieces of a giant puzzle thats constantly changing and solving that puzzle over and over again, said Al-Dossary. Our success is dependent upon OSPAS people being able to put the pieces together time after time after time.
amount of information the The video wall, shown above, can display screens display is gathered, real-time images from verified and used. cameras, satellites or the Internet. This is the story about the people who are responsible for providing the OCC and OSPAS with information, and the people who use that information to aggressively run, protect and optimize Saudi Aramcos critical operations.
IT A critical component The new focusRecently, the focus of OSPAS has been the new OCC video wall, inaugurated Sept. 12, 2005. The first OCC was built in 1978, and its computer systems were replaced and upgraded twice since 1982 (a third upgrade is scheduled for 2008). The center was completely renovated in 1995. Loaded with new display technology, todays massive (biggest in the hydrocarbon industry) series of screens on the OCC wall simply overwhelms visitors and provides a realtime display of Saudi Aramcos key operations oil, gas and natural gas liquids (NGL), terminal planning operations and refined products for OSPAS, plus electric power distribution. As magnificent as the video wall is, it is merely a tool. The real story of OCC and OSPAS is how the massive We cant make mistakes, said Esam M. Al-Eissa, administrator of the Real-Time Systems Division (RTSD) and the leader of the group responsible for obtaining the data used by the OCC. Youve heard of learning by your mistakes, well that golden rule doesnt apply here. We make a mistake, and the company could lose millions of dollars and people could be injured. The Information Technology (IT) component of OSPAS is vital. Now a part of Saudi Aramcos IT system and organizationally separate from OSPAS, the RTSD continues to be in charge of OSPASs data. According to Al-Eissa, We believed that moving from OSPAS to IT would provide us with a greater opportunity to integrate OSPAS systems with other company systems.
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shift coordinators, who watch President and CEO Abdallah S. Jumah, clapover the entire OCC, can ping second from left, instantly take action to and other executives celebrates the inauguprevent major problems. ration of OCCs new One of the hallmarks of video wall. OSPAS is change. Nothing stands still, said Al-Shami. We are continually upgrading and optimizing. One example is the use of the Plant Information Systems (PI) components. PIs gather all types of information from within the plant environment. Right now, we get 35 percent of our data from PIs, said Al-Eissa. That information used to come from RTUs. How impressive is the control center! The world economy may rely on the The PIs advantage is that they are in the plant efficiency of Saudi Aramco. Oliver Appert, President & CEO, French Institute of Petroleum anyway and can gather the data automatically. This eliminates the need for RTUs and frees up the RTU-dedioperators at the OCC with alarms. cated circuit. However, the RTUs play an important role The ability to provide us with critical information out in the desert with the pipelines. rapidly helps us prevent stoppages or failures, said Al-Eissa. In fact, we have a field electronics system that The master SCADA systems not only gathers data but enables us to actually control Two SCADA systems serve as the centerpieces for data remote operations without anyone being present. The OSPAS relies on vast amounts of information and needs to be fed from as wide a range of sources as possible. Our move to IT makes this easier. Information gathering is a vital part of OSPASs success. Data is gathered from all operation sites, said Maan Al-Shami, Planning and Programming group leader plants, refineries, GOSPs, terminals, pipelines. Much of the data is gathered by Remote Terminal Units, or RTUs. These units monitor operations located far from plants or manned operation centers. The RTUs and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are highly sensitive, able to detect developing problems and alert
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Above: Critical meetings can be held in the room that overlooks the OCC. Pictured from right are General supervisor Khalid Al-Omair, engineer Jaman Al-Zahrani, OSPAS manager Adel Al-Dossary, group leader Maan Shami, general supervisor Abdulrahman Ghabra, general supervisor Awad Al-Qahtani and specialist Mutlaq Al-Daajani. All coordinators can call up a vast number of images on their computer systems, and the shift coordinator can remotely operate critical functions.
gathering. One is the central dispatch system for all hydrocarbon operations and the other is for pow