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Cougar Automation develop pioneering system for Guara-Lula oil field site

National automations system provider, Cougar Automation, has developed and commissioned an innovative control system for Balltec to use on the first Buoy Supported Riser (BSR) system installed on Brazil’s Guara-Lula Project. The system is a world’s first in design and will support Petrobras in eventually reaching a projected total production capacity of over 300,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

The Guara-Lula project is the largest engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning (EPIC) SURF contract ever to be awarded in Brazil. Operated by Petrobras and located in Santos Basin approximately 100 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, the BSR system consists of four submerged buoys each weighing approximately 2,000 tonnes which lie around 300 metres below sea level.

Cougar Automation was commissioned by Balltec to design a dedicated control and automation system consisting of a surface-mounted primary control that would control the movement of the buoy support system via tether adjustment, using a linear chain tensioner. This was required in order to manage the tension in the risers.

The pioneering system allows surface control of the subsea tensioner system via a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). Once over-boarded, the ROV facilitates establishment of the data pathway linking the surface control to the subsea control modules. The surface control is then used to effect buoy movement as required.

This ‘robotic like’ system enables the controller to make adjustments to the position of the buoy using the tensioners, via visual monitoring and control using surface-mounted touch-screen HMIs. The surface control system is also able to automatically interrogate and identify the exact tensioner it is connected to, as well as generating advanced statistical reporting, operational and historical data for convenient trouble-shooting and audits. The intuitive control system can also make rapid decisions in real-time to protect the equipment and facilitate safe operation; which a human would be incapable of. This includes highlighting of any anomalies to the Operator and the generation of events during normal operation. This ensures that the system can be protected against any damage quickly and efficiently.

Liberty Mabaleka, Project Engineer at Cougar Automation said “The design of this automation system was very different in comparison to our usual projects, in that it works very much like a robot would. The user can command the control system exactly what it needs to do and then it can report back findings through programmed intelligence. We’re extremely pleased with the end result and this has a lot to do with how closely we worked with the client throughout the entire process – actively engaging them at every stage of the project in order to ensure that we were delivering exactly what the client required. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for Cougar to showcase exactly what we’re capable of, and we’re very proud to be part of such a revolutionary system “

Balltec was extremely pleased with the work carried out stating “We are extremely satisfied with the level of support Cougar-Automation has provided. The flexibility & speed in which the software was updated was very impressive”.
Cougar Automation has five offices throughout the UK and specialises in providing control and automation systems to the oil and gas, power generation and utilities sectors. The company has a wealth of experience with an extremely impressive client base, working on some of the biggest projects in the industry.

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