BP Canada Energy (www.bpgasandpower.com/portal/site/NAGP/) was awarded HART Plant of the Year by the HART Communication Foundation (HCF, www.hartcomm.org) for its NGL operation plant in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The award is given annually to recognize people, companies, and plant sites that are using HART technology in real-time applications to improve operations, lower costs, and increase availability.

The BP plant makes propane, butane, natural gas liquid (NGL) condensate, and ethane with carbon dioxide removed. On average, 1.5 million cubic meters of propane and large volumes of the other products leave the plant each year. According to HCF, BP engineers have used the digital process variable output of their installed HART-enabled temperature and pressure transmitters for more than a decade to improve the accuracy of the plant’s liquid pipeline custody-transfer measurements.

According to BP senior electrical craftsman Marcel Boisvert, the process requires that custody transfer measurements must be as accurate as possible. “A temperature error of 0.25 degrees Celsius results in up to a 0.07 percent mass flow error. Multiplied by the amount of product we ship, that inaccuracy means a potential loss of $350,000 a year in the NGL pipeline alone,” he says.

When readings at the device were not matching the readings at the flow computer, plant engineers determined that the inaccuracy occurred when transforming the analog signal into its digital equivalent within the flow computer. Using the digital data in their HART-enabled devices in full-time communication with the HART-enabled flow computer has enabled BP to assure proper calibrations and significantly increase the accuracy of flow measurements.

“Considering the amount of product flowing through all pipelines and the amount of time no longer spent adjusting instruments, our total estimated savings is about $750,000 a year. We’ve been doing this for 10 years, so that translates into $7.5 million,” says Boisvert. “The most valuable lesson learned is that HART is not just a maintenance tool. It is a process improvement tool as well.”

The HCF encourages nominations for HART Plant of the Year from all world areas. Nominations are accepted through May of each year. Previous recipients are Sasol Solvents, South Africa (2005); BP Cooper River, South Carolina and Clariant, Germany (2004), the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (2003), and DuPont DeLisle, Mississippi (2002). For more information, visit www.hartcomm.org.