SAGD Alarm Management

  • Oil Sands & Heavy Oil
  • Project Management
  • Alarm Management
  • Project Management
  • Alarm Management

The Challenge

The client, a senior integrated Canadian energy producer, operates a large thermal extraction facility near Fort McMurray AB. Alarm generation rates were in excess of 100X the industry standard targets. Due to the high volume, important alarms were being missed, significantly increasing the risk of equipment failure and safety incidents, and offering the potential for production losses. The client had no formal alarm management philosophy, or plans & procedures in place for alleviating the number of alarms. This created the potential for decisions being made that were not achieving the best alarm system performance, and inconsistent methods of addressing alarm performance issues and bad actor alarms. Management of the alarm system was further complicated by the use of three different types of DCS systems within the facility.

The client’s alarm system was overloaded and needed to be brought to a manageable level, even when in upset conditions. This was a necessary step before a more comprehensive approach could be considered. Autopro was selected to create a multi-phase action plan to reduce the alarm levels by 90%, and to decrease process unit alarm rates in excess of 100X the industry standard target.

Autopro’s Role

Autopro established a path forward for alarm management at the client’s facility by creating a clear picture of the present performance, defining the mitigation processes, and determining a future direction with an alarm management philosophy.

  • Procedures for bad-actor resolution and alarm MOC were put in place.
  • Firm guidelines were set to ensure best-practices were used.
  • Alarm performance was benchmarked, monitored and regularly reported on to demonstrate improvements.
Autopro had previously completed similar work for the client at a sister facility. This work was intended to align alarm management practices across the different facilities.

Success Criteria

Alarm system performance improved significantly as bad-actor resolution procedures were defined and put into practice. A focus on resolving bad-actors at this stage made the alarm system relevant & functional for facility Operators, enabling them to start using the alarm system again to identify, respond to, and manage abnormal situations. Efforts were concentrated on the process areas requiring the most improvements.

Within the first four (of eight) 2-week onsite rotations, the client achieved:

  • ~90% alarm rate reduction in the worst-performing area.
  • ~50% alarm rate reduction in the 2nd targeted area.

Work continued for several months following, with additional improvements and successes in other process areas.

Project Metrics

Project Completion Date