Apr 4, 2016

Fujairah: a constantly growing hydrocarbon hub

Malek Azizeh
3 min
As the third largest oil storage and petroleum products trading centre and second largest bunkering port in the world after Singapore, Fujairah in th...

As the third largest oil storage and petroleum products trading centre and second largest bunkering port in the world after Singapore, Fujairah in the UAE is still growing at an impressive rate, as it aims to become the leading global oil hub.

Fujairah offers the trading community a one-stop-shop of products and services, where you can bunker, trade and maintain your vessels. It is commercially designed with the following in mind: the transfer of products (ITT) between the various independent terminals, complete flexibility for traders to buy and sell under the Freezone umbrella, ability to purchase bunker fuel for the purpose of refuelling, changing of crew if needed, medical services, ship maintenance and ships supplies.

As a result of growing volumes through the port, in 2015, the Port of Fujairah reached a new record of 50 million tonnes of refined products throughput. This has helped position the region as the third largest oil products hub globally, and its location close to the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint, reinforces its importance.

Additionally, the continued focus on diversification in Fujairah is resulting in investments being made in the downstream sector, including product specialty chemicals, bitumen and biofuels refineries, as well as chemical storage.

ADNOC commissioned its eight-million-barrel terminal in Fujairah, back in 2012, to use it as a receiving point of the Murban crude, coming from the heart of UAE through the 400 km Habshan pipeline. It is designed to transport up to 1.5 million barrels of this sweet crude, which translates to about 60 percent of the UAE crude oil production being exported through Fujairah, when fully utilised.

Fujairah Oil Terminal FZC (FOT) is first independent third-party crude oil terminal to offer commercial storage to crude oil traders. FOT is owned by China’s Sinopec (50 percent) Australia’s Prostar Capital (40 percent) and Government of Fujairah (10 percent). FOT is considering expansion options and currently evaluating future market outlook to build the most suitable tanks for the future. As crude storage and throughout volumes are gaining momentum, thanks to ADNOC’s large crude storage facility (8 million barrels) and the Port’s considerable investment in the Very Large Crude Oil Carriers (VLCC) berths, many terminals in Fujairah are now considering building crude tanks instead of the traditional refined products tanks, which is the majority of Fujairah’s current capacity. 

There are plenty of things happening in Fujairah, a new refinery will be coming into operation and Vopak has a project, which will be commissioned imminently, as well as IPIC’s announcement for building a 200kbd refinery.

There is also the positive spin from the lifting of Iranian sanctions, where oil traders will be looking to supply and receive products from Iran. As a result, there will be even more demand for storage in Fujairah, as gasoline cargos will be blended to specs ready for exportation and fuel oil importation will add to the existing pool, which is in high demand considering the large bunkering market in Fujairah, estimated to be about 1 million metric ton per month.

All in all, the success story of Fujairah in such a short period of time makes other ports carefully monitor its progress. If it carries on with the same rate of growth that has been witnessed so far, it is only a matter of time before it takes over the largest oil hubs globally.

Malek Azizeh is Commercial Director at Fujairah Oil Terminal and he is speaking at Tank World Expo 2016, which takes place this month.

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Jun 12, 2021

Why Transmission & Distribution Utilities Need Digital Twins

digitaltwins
Technology
Utilities
Management
Petri Rauhakallio
6 min
Petri Rauhakallio at Sharper Shape outlines the Digital Twins benefits for energy transmission and distribution utilities

As with any new technology, Digital twins can create as many questions as answers. There can be a natural resistance, especially among senior utility executives who are used to the old ways and need a compelling case to invest in new ones. 

So is digital twin just a fancy name for modelling? And why do many senior leaders and engineers at power transmission & distribution (T&D) companies have a gnawing feeling they should have one? Ultimately it comes down to one key question: is this a trend worth our time and money?

The short answer is yes, if approached intelligently and accounting for utilities’ specific needs. This is no case of runaway hype or an overwrought name for an underwhelming development – digital twin technology can be genuinely transformational if done right. So here are six reasons why in five years no T&D utility will want to be without a digital twin. 

1. Smarter Asset Planning

A digital twin is a real-time digital counterpart of a utility’s real-world grid. A proper digital twin – and not just a static 3D model of some adjacent assets – represents the grid in as much detail as possible, is updated in real-time and can be used to model ‘what if’ scenarios to gauge the effects in real life. It is the repository in which to collect and index all network data, from images, to 3D pointclouds, to past reports and analyses.

With that in mind, an obvious use-case for a digital twin is planning upgrades and expansions. For example, if a developer wants to connect a major solar generation asset, what effect might that have on the grid assets, and will they need upgrading or reinforcement? A seasoned engineer can offer an educated prediction if they are familiar with the local assets, their age and their condition – but with a digital twin they can simply model the scenario on the digital twin and find out.

The decision is more likely to be the right one, the utility is less likely to be blindsided by unforeseen complications, and less time and money need be spent visiting the site and validating information.

As the energy transition accelerates, both transmission and distribution (T&D) utilities will receive more connection requests for anything from solar parks to electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to heat pumps and batteries – and all this on top of normal grid upgrade programs. A well-constructed digital twin may come to be an essential tool to keep up with the pace of change.

2. Improved Inspection and Maintenance

Utilities spend enormous amounts of time and money on asset inspection and maintenance – they have to in order to meet their operational and safety responsibilities. In order to make the task more manageable, most utilities try to prioritise the most critical or fragile parts of the network for inspection, based on past inspection data and engineers’ experience. Many are investigating how to better collect, store and analyze data in order to hone this process, with the ultimate goal of predicting where inspections and maintenance are going to be needed before problems arise.  

The digital twin is the platform that contextualises this information. Data is tagged to assets in the model, analytics and AI algorithms are applied and suggested interventions are automatically flagged to the human user, who can understand what and where the problem is thanks to the twin. As new data is collected over time, the process only becomes more effective.

3. More Efficient Vegetation Management

Utilities – especially transmission utilities in areas of high wildfire-risk – are in a constant struggle with nature to keep vegetation in-check that surrounds power lines and other assets. Failure risks outages, damage to assets and even a fire threat. A comprehensive digital twin won’t just incorporate the grid assets – a network of powerlines and pylons isolated on an otherwise blank screen – but the immediate surroundings too. This means local houses, roads, waterways and trees. 

If the twin is enriched with vegetation data on factors such as the species, growth rate and health of a tree, then the utility can use it to assess the risk from any given twig or branch neighbouring one of its assets, and prioritise and dispatch vegetation management crews accordingly. 

And with expansion planning, inspection and maintenance, the value here is less labor-intensive and more cost-effective decision making and planning – essential in an industry of tight margins and constrained resources. What’s more, the value only rises over time as feedback allows the utility to finesse the program.

4. Automated powerline inspection

Remember though, that to be maximally useful, a digital twin must be kept up to date. A larger utility might blanche at the resources required to not just to map and inspect the network once in order to build the twin, but update that twin at regular intervals.

However, digital twins are also an enabling technology for another technological step-change – automated powerline inspection.

Imagine a fleet of sensor-equipped drones empowered to fly the lines almost constantly, returning (automatically) only to recharge their batteries. Not only would such a set-up be far cheaper to operate than a comparable fleet of human inspectors, it could provide far more detail at far more regular intervals, facilitating all the above benefits of better planning, inspection, maintenance and vegetation management. Human inspectors could be reserved for non-routine interventions that really require their hard-earned expertise.

In this scenario, the digital twin provides he ‘map’ by which the drone can plan a route and navigate itself, in conjunction with its sensors. 

5. Improved Emergency Modelling and Faster Response

If the worst happens and emergency strikes, such as a wildfire or natural disaster, digital twins can again prove invaluable. The intricate, detailed understanding of the grid, assets and its surroundings that a digital twin gives is an element of order in a chaotic situation, and can guide the utility and emergency services alike in mounting an informed response.

And once again, the digital twin’s facility for ‘what-if’ scenario testing is especially useful for emergency preparedness. If a hurricane strikes at point X, what will be the effect on assets at point Y? If a downed pylon sparks a fire at point A, what residences are nearby and what does an evacuation plan look like?

6. Easier accommodation of external stakeholders

Finally, a digital twin can make lighter work of engaging with external stakeholders. The world doesn’t stand still, and a once blissfully-isolated powerline may suddenly find itself adjacent to a building site for a new building or road. 

As well as planning for connection (see point 1), a digital twin takes the pain out of those processes that require interfacing with external stakeholders, such as maintenance contractors, arborists, trimming crews or local government agencies – the digital twin breaks down the silos between these groups and allows them to work from a single version of the truth – in future it could even be used as part of the bid process for contractors.

These six reasons for why digital twins will be indispensable to power T&D utilities are only the tip of the iceberg; the possibilities are endless given the constant advancement of data collection an analysis technology. No doubt these will invite even more questions – and we relish the challenge of answering them. 

 

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