MSB Presents Tech Talk During Premier Energy Conference & Expo, LAGCOE 2019

Wireless Tank Gauging Tech Talk Offered During Showcase of Oil & Gas Innovations

METAIRIE, LA.—Dec. 3, 2019—M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) engineering experts gave a technology talk on “Reliable Performance Through Wireless Tank Gauging” during LAGCOE, a biennial conference of the onshore and offshore oil/gas exploration and production industry. Presented by the nonprofit energy industry organization Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition, LAGCOE is one of the world’s premiere oil and gas expositions featuring innovative equipment, services, technology, and presentations from worldwide leaders. The 2019 expo was the first show held in New Orleans since its founding in Lafayette 64 years ago, and the city also is scheduled to host LAGCOE 2021. Continue reading


Sulfur Stack Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS)


An existing sulfur dioxide (SO2) analyzer located at grade in an analyzer shelter utilized a conditioned dry sample feed while an O2 analyzer located near the top of the stack utilized a wet sample basis. Both the SO2 and O2 analyzers were connected to a programmable logic controller (PLC) for validation controls. Individual O2 and SO2 uncorrected concentration values were being measured and connected to the distributed control system (DCS); where they were then corrected using calculations.

The client needed to install a new continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) to meet current federal EPA performance and reporting requirements. This new CEMS would report emissions data back to a central data acquisition system for reporting and historizing the data.


M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) was enlisted to provide engineering, drafting and design, system planning, cost estimate planning and construction assistance to enable the client to comply with this new EPA reporting criteria.

The scope of the project included:

  • Replacing and upgrading the O2 analyzer to one that could measure a dry sample basis. This involved removing and blinding the existing in situ connection.
  • Installing a new SO2 sensor/analyzer in existing shelter at grade and connecting the sample feed to an existing system.
  • Replacing validation controls (via an existing PLC) with a new CEMS controller/Data Acquisition and Data Handling System to ensure accurate validation functions. The CEMS controller connected to the existing plant analyzer V-LAN network via newly installed Ethernet switch. CEMS historization and reporting requirements would be available via the CEMS server.
  • Connecting priority one hardwire alarms to the DCS as well as the analog concentration readings. The other pertinent data was sent to the CEMS server via the Ethernet connection.
  • Existing raw SO2 and O2 concentration signal wiring to DCS remained in place, and a new corrected SO2 measurement value was connected to DCS via the new CEMS controller. Various other data points and alarms were sent to the CEMS Data Acquisition Server via the dedicated fiber network.
  • Since the old PLC functionality was replaced by the new CEMS controller, the PLC was converted into the new analyzer building alarm system. New interior building monitors (O2 depletion, smoke alarm) were installed; exterior beacon and siren warned of possible interior hazards; and alarms were hardwired to the DCS.


MSB recommended an additional level of functionality testing to ensure the system would work as intended. This PLC checkout test procedure, in addition to the factory accepted test procedure, allowed for the seamless upgrade, installation and validation of the CEMS system.

In addition to meeting compliance with new federal EPA performance and monitoring requirements, the client was able to incorporate the PLC function into installing new safety measures.


Industrial Electrical System Optimization through Analysis


A large Oil & Gas storage and transportation company with a major storage location in Texas and various stations along its pipeline needed assistance analyzing its electric utility system. The company’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage complex in Mont Belvieu, Texas, one of the nation’s largest, delivers LPG to customers as far away as New York. The facility was experiencing excessive voltage drops under normal conditions and various rural locations along the distribution pipeline also were experiencing electrical transmission issues.

The company needed a qualified engineering company to perform analyses and make recommendations for improving the electrical distribution system at the Mont Belvieu storage property as well as several rural locations along the pipeline system.


Understanding how electric generation, transmission, and delivery systems interact and operate is paramount to guaranteeing reliable sources of electricity. Bringing a combination of detailed theoretical modeling and real-word experience, M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) was enlisted to conduct power system engineering studies and provide system capacity and optimization analyses for the oil and gas pipeline electrical system.

MSB evaluated existing studies performed by local power utility companies and developed a model of the storage facility’s electrical distribution system using SKM Power*Tools DAPPER and TMS software modules. Engineers also performed a modified load flow and motor starting analysis and a system fault current analysis.

MSB provided detailed flow analysis reports for several operating scenarios, a transient motor starting analysis for different starting methods and operating loads, recommendations to improve and upgrade the performance of the electrical system, and cost estimates for different solutions for achieving varying degrees of reliability.


The client applied the studies to its upgrade projects and was able to determine the most cost-effective solutions for optimizing the electrical distribution system that met its financial and reliability goals.

The client realized savings at the storage facility by improving voltage levels without having to increase distribution voltage or purchase and install electrical equipment such as auto-transformers and larger conductors. In one location along the pipeline route, the local utility recommended a seven-figure investment to install new lines while the client was able to present a six-figure alternative recommended in the MSB-provided analysis. The line work was later scheduled as part of the utility’s routine maintenance at no cost to the client, resulting in substantial financial savings.


Heater Control System Reliability Study


A three-cell, multi-burner fired heater in a large refinery was experiencing unnecessary interruptions in service due to failures of the existing instrumentation and control systems. The heater’s programmable logic controller (PLC) based Emergency Shutdown (ESD) System was experiencing nuisance trips and alarms caused by failed instrumentation end devices (switches and solenoids) and communication failures within the existing multi PLC network.

The ignition system’s fuel to air mixture was controlled by long mechanical linkages between the burner’s fuel gas control valves and the combustion air control valves of each cell that had a long history of poor performance. Change in operating conditions, charge rate, or fuel gas quality required manual readjustment of the burners due to changes in flame pattern. Occasionally, the process was affected because operating parameters went out of specification, affecting product yield and quality.

The company sought a solution to increase heater and ESD system reliability, improve performance and address the inefficiencies of the equipment.


M S Benbow and Associates (MSB) was part of the team assigned to study and identify ways to increase heater and ESD system reliability and develop a safety instrumented system (SIS) to meet the client’s requirements. MSB performed front-end engineering and developed a high quality (+/- 30%) total erected cost estimate. The plan would upgrade the performance of the SIS to meet the client’s Safety Integrity Level (SIL) target and would include process piping and instrumentation upgrades.

MSB calculated the SIL level of the safety instrumented functions (SIF) associated with the heater based on existing process and instrument configurations. The effort included participating in HAZOP studies of the heaters, verifying the process and instrumentation diagrams and defining and documenting the SIS, based on ANSI/ISA S84.01 standards.

The scope of work also included identifying methods to improve performance such as the addition of a new triple redundant ESD system and new bridgewall pressure transmitters to detect flue gas pressure. Other identified areas for upgrade included: enhancing basic firing control operations utilizing new TDC/DCS fuel gas control valves, O2 control, replacement of existing O2 analyzers, and replacing the existing fuel gas knock out drum to eliminate liquid entrainment to the burners.


In keeping with the client’s commitment to improved efficiency and safety, MSB designed a plan to retrofit the heater instrumentation and control systems that met the client’s needs, as well as applicable OSHA, ISA and NFPA standards. MSB recommended the following process configurations that would meet the client’s SIL targets and heater reliability and availability needs:

  • Replace (3) existing stack analyzers with analyzers capable of measuring O2 and combustibles (CO) to improve the controlled combustion air control system.
  • Modify the existing fuel gas piping and shutdown valve configuration in an effort to reduce the total number of valves and increase the reliability of the shutdown system and availability of the heater. The new configuration would reduce the number of fuel gas shutdown valves from one per burner (22 total) to two per cell (6 total), which would allow both a shutdown on a cell basis as well as a full heater shutdown.
  • Replace (11) existing PLCs with a new Triple Modular Redundant (TMR) system.
  • Replace outdated flame scanners with UV self-checking capabilities.
  • Install triplicated transmitters where needed to meet the SIL level of specific and install new transmitters to replace existing ESD switches.

The client accepted MSB’s recommendations and is in the process of appropriating the necessary capital project funding.