M S Benbow & Associates Team Earns Safety Excellence Award

DIMS Group at Shell/Motiva Norco achieves 10,000+ hour safety record

NORCO, LA—June 6, 2013—M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) was recognized with the 2012 Safety Excellence Award for its workplace safety performance at the Shell Norco Chemical Plant and Motiva Norco Refinery in St. Charles Parish, La. Continue reading


Greater Lafourche Port Commission 400’ Self-Support Communications Tower


The Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC) manages and provides public safety for Port Fourchon, Louisiana’s southernmost port. Port Fourchon is ideally located on the Louisiana coast in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Port Fourchon serves as a base of operation for over 250 oil and gas service companies and is the land base for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP, LLC), Louisiana’s largest domestic and foreign crude offloading, storage, and distribution center. LOOP is also the storage and terminalling facility for domestically produced oil from the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 1.2 to 1.5 million barrels of crude oil per day are transported via pipelines through the port, in addition to the massive amounts of vessels, trucks, and helicopters that transport goods and personnel to and from offshore locations. All told, Port Fourchon is the nation’s premiere intermodal hub for the support of oil and gas industry.

With Port Fourchon’s critical need for reliable security, GLPC has made providing communications and surveillance infrastructure for the Port Fourchon Harbor Police and public safety dispatchers a priority. GLPC’s communications needs are complex and widespread, including everything from two-way radio communications to CCTV cameras in multiple locations throughout the 10th Ward of Lafourche Parish.  The infrastructure needed for such communications has traditionally been challenging to maintain, with dispatching stations located inside the levee system 23 miles north of the port and tower facilities located on privately owned and operated properties. Disparate tower and equipment locations, multiple owners, and multiple users from various agencies made keeping communications running smoothly a serious challenge.

The need for a port-run telecommunications hub was especially evident during weather emergencies. Private tower facilities must often terminate electrical power with any threat of inclement weather (i.e. hurricanes, tornadoes; etc.) due to safety regulations. Such shutdowns occurred when emergency communications were most needed by GLPC and other critical agencies, making communications equipment inoperable at the most demanding times. This also posed multiple challenges for the continued operation of law enforcement, port security, EMS and fire services.


The Port Commission, in conjunction with several other public safety agencies, began discussions to procure and build a state-of-the-art, hurricane-resistant, critical public safety communications site in Port Fourchon, including a large tower and telecommunications buildings. GLPC budgeted $2.7 million for the entire project and obtained funding from Homeland Security and the State of Louisiana through the federal Port Security Grant program.

The GLPC consulted with MS Benbow & Associates (MSB) on the tower project.  After initial review and preliminary design discussions, MSB was selected to provide detailed design and project management for the entire project. MSB developed design documentation for the entire site to include electrical, telecommunications, network infrastructure, telecommunications backhaul, two-way radio communications (provided by Motorola), microwave relocation and tower requirements. MSB sub-contracted Gillen Design Systems for design work on both tower and building foundations. Sabre Tower and Poles designed and fabricated the tower steel.

The ultimate design for this facility resulted in a massive TIA-222G-rated 400-foot self-support solid steel tower that includes:

  • An elevated communications building platform 17 feet above mean sea level
  • A 225kW power plant for emergency power service
  • A 150 MPH communication building design for the two buildings installed
  • Communication duct banks to existing command buildings
  • A substantial electrical grounding system
  • The ability to hold the following equipment for wireless communications and telemetry:
    • Terma Scanter 4100 18’ RADAR Appurtenance
    • 40 Omni Antennas ranging from RFS BCR12H (Bogner) to Andrew dB222 UHF Antennas
    • 14 Parabolic Microwave with Radome ranging from 4’ to 8’
    • 6 PTZ Head weatherized remote cameras
    • 6 Ethernet panel antenna for remote video feeds
    • 12 GPS Antennas
    • Dozens of Yagi Antennas
    • 36 Cellular Panel Antennas
    • One WeatherBug
  • A total estimated combined appurtenance weight of 11,350 lbs.
  • A total estimated combined cable weight of 7,760 lbs.
  • The largest tower members are comprised of 9-foot diameter solid rod legs and 8.5” x 8.5” angle iron used as leg bracing.
  • The widest stance is at the tower base, stretching 34 feet 9 inches, and the tower face at the top is 5 feet wide.


The extensive list of potential equipment to be loaded on the tower was developed by GLPC and MSB and includes requirements of potential government and public safety agencies -related equipment that may one day use the port’s tower. Additional equipment was estimated for commercial and cellular use as well.

The tower was erected in October 2011, with critical communications infrastructure going on-air in March 2012. Microwave backhaul was complete in June 2012.

This facility provides extensive communication resources to aid in the security and public safety of Port Fourchon and surrounding areas in South Louisiana. This facility supports over a dozen public safety agencies and will provide government, commercial, and cellular vendors with endless communication resources into the future.


Industrial Video Surveillance System Installation with Fiber Connectivity to Central Control Room

A chemical refinery seeking to consolidate its system operators into a central control room away from pumps, heaters and valves located in hazardous areas needed a video surveillance system that could reliably monitor equipment in sensitive locations.The move would help the client limit exposure of its personnel to potentially dangerous areas, with a special focus on areas most likely to experience a failure or event.

With the presence of highly corrosive chemicals in the hazardous areas, the monitoring system would require intrinsically safe explosion-proof rated cameras and enclosures able to withstand exposure to corrosive materials.

The ability to access accurate and timely information is critical to allow the plant to respond swiftly to incidents that could affect the quality and safety of its operations and overall security. A turnkey design and installation was provided to convert an analog video surveillance system to a digital CCTV system that would allow the operators to remotely monitor hazardous areas of the plant from a new central control room. The system was designed to support future expansion while being efficient with the use of fiber infrastructure.

The engineering team selected camera housings and mounts that are explosion-proof rated and resistant to corrosion, and high-resolution cameras to accommodate extreme lighting conditions.

The project team installed more than 36 CCTV cameras in five different units to provide video surveillance coverage of all of the facility’s critical operation areas. Camera placements were selected based on providing maximum coverage, with additional cameras mounted in areas that had experienced past incidents of fire or explosion. Monitors for each of the 36 video surveillance cameras were incorporated into control room consoles.

In some areas where traditional methods for camera mounting was an issue, the team configured a lens designed to allow the camera/housing to be mounted in safer areas, but still provide the field of vision needed to monitor the equipment.

The new video surveillance system allowed the client to locate its employees to a central control room away from potentially dangerous equipment and chemical hazards.

The video system has already provided a return on the investment by allowing operators to discreetly manage key operations areas and respond rapidly to equipment failures. The rapid response to failures based on the surveillance systems has contributed to the overall safety of the plant.


Power Distribution Center Design, 2.4kV Switchgear and MCC Replacement


A Mont Belvieu, Texas, Fractionation Facility was operating a 2.4kV electrical distribution system using 40-year-old outdoor switch gear and motor control centers. The company desired to replace and upgrade this lineup with new-generation switchgear and motor controller technology that meets current design standards and preferred engineering practices.  Replacement 2.4kV equipment design was based on vacuum contactor technology, completely isolated lo- voltage control cabinet, and microprocessor-based protective relays.

ONEOK Hydrocarbons Southwest, LLC selected M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) to provide professional engineering services.  MSB was contracted to write specifications and provide engineering and design expertise to provide a complete IFC Demolition and Installation Drawing Package to replace the outdoor 2.4kV equipment lineup. MSB also served as project engineer and project manager.

The electrical system would be designed for continuous and reliable operation, with an emphasis on operator safety and ease of maintenance.


ONEOK elected to replace the existing 2.4kV switchgear and motor control center and house the equipment in an elevated environmental-controlled Power Distribution Center (PDC) to provide climate control and remove flood hazards.

MSB wrote the specifications for both the new 2.4kV lineup and the PDC.  MSB wrote the Issued For Bid packages, sent it to selected vendors, evaluated their responses, and provided that information to ONEOK for vendor selection.  MSB assisted ONEOK in Purchase Order construction and provided oversight and review services of vendor drawings packages and technical issues.  As the process developed, design changes were made and implemented under the direction of MSB.

As the design team for ONEOK, MSB was also responsible for developing Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) procedures for the 2.4kV equipment and the new PDC.  They participated in the FATs as well as the commissioning and startup of the new system.

MSB developed a complete Demolition & Installation Drawing Package for the project, including:

  • Civil & Structural aspects of the job:
    • Number and types of building support piers
    • Number and types of cable tray bridge support piers
    • Concrete spread-footings for stairs, landings and tray supports
  • Electrical infrastructure:
    • PDC and cable tray grounding plan
    • Cable tray system
    • Power and control cable design and routing plan

Due to an unforeseen land use variance issue late in the design process, the client had to relocate the PDC building site from its planned location, requiring a redesign of the entire civil, structural, and power distribution scheme from the PDC to the loads.  MSB assigned additional resources to the job to meet the compressed project timeline.  This scope change involved extensive coordination between MSB and site contractors to meet deadlines.


The new 2.4kV power distribution system is designed to meet the most current design standards and preferred engineering practices, including vacuum contactors and micro-processor protective relays.  The new elevated PDC building is air-conditioned and well-lit.  It includes a state-of-the-art fire alarm system including an HVAC Shutdown Panel.  The building was designed for future equipment expansion.

ONEOK has replaced old technology (40-year-old outdoor electrical gear) with new state-of-the-art gear.  Reliability, operator safety, and maintenance issues are markedly improved.


SCADA System for Wastewater Treatment Facility


Dock sumps at a petrochemical company process large volumes of liquid oil waste from the dock platform and sanitary waste from operator shelters through skid-mounted pumps and hose manifold stations. Sump pumps then transfer the sump contents to the plant’s waste treatment pumping system, where recovered oil is delivered to tanks while untreated water that meets environmental permit requirements is discharged into the Mississippi River. This transfer operation is controlled by existing float switch pump controls with a manual run option.

The client needed a Wastewater Treatment Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system upgrade with a more reliable radar signal to meet environmental, safety, manpower and maintenance concerns and comply with Marine Terminal Design Standards.


M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) was contracted to upgrade current controls to a SCADA and telemetry for the pump stations, which involved monitoring the sump alarms, levels and pump status at seven remote sewage pump stations, integrating all of the stations on the same SCADA, communications and telemetry platform.

MSB was the engineering firm responsible for drafting & design, engineering, specification and testing of the SCADA upgrade.

The project to install equipment and instrumentation necessary to meet the standards required elevated dock sump vents and visual and audible high-level alarms. Per the standards, the sumps must be a closed system with a vent to the atmosphere. The vents should be pressure/vacuum regulated and discharge a minimum of 9.8 feet (3 m) above platforms and 50 feet (15 m) from any equipment; and sump tanks should be designed with high-level alarms displayed in a central manned location.

Work required was to:

  • Install mechanical piping as necessary to move vent point to 9.8 feet above sump top and 50 feet from any nearby equipment.
  • Piping modifications at the sumps would require flushing and inerting the vessels so structural supports could be installed to support additional vertical and horizontal sections of vent piping to meet elevation and distance requirements.
  • Install pressure-vacuum vent relief valve on vent piping.
  • Install SCADA system components (wireless radios, programmable logic controller and enclosures with battery backup) and local alarm beacon and siren at each dock location.  Continuous level and high level alarms will be displayed at each sump location as well as a centralized manned operator location.
  • Install process connection on sump for new radar-level instruments.
  • The SCADA/alarm panel enclosure components were DC powered sourced from a battery bank located within the enclosure. The battery bank consisted of two redundant 24 VDC power supplies as a charging source fed from the docks’ 120VAC power panels. Each new alarm panel would receive power supply from two sources, the docks’ local power panel and an emergency battery bank reserve.


MSB developed a test procedure for the client to field function test the wireless SCADA system as well as participate in a factory acceptance test prior to converting to the new system.

The system continuously monitors inputs, transmits the sensor readings at regular intervals, and alerts operators when an alarm is detected. The system can also be monitored remotely 24/7.

The project established more reliable and accurate level-measuring instruments. Furthermore, because of the new wireless SCADA infrastructure at these dock locations, installation costs were minimal.

The system will reduce the operation’s probability of overflowing the sumps into the Mississippi River, thereby reducing the client’s environmental impact. Increased reliability also can potentially prevent downtime, expensive fines or lost revenues.


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.


Startup, Commissioning and Operation of a Grass Roots 230 kV-13.8 kV Substation


In order to meet consumer power demand and improve reliability of their facility, management at a major refinery enlisted site engineers to design, start up and commission a new 230 kV-13.8 kV 40 MVA spot network substation. The genesis of the new substation was rooted in the realization that both the existing substations reflected the design philosophy of the period and had shown signs of overloading during their service life. The project sought to provide capacity to meet a 10- to 20-year load forecast. The new substation was to utilize the following key features:

  • Utilize multi-tiered relay protection with overlapping zones of backup protection.
  • Incorporate microprocessor-based relays because of greater accuracy and repeatability, multiple protective functions located in one box, and the availability of communications, self-monitoring and event reporting.
  • Utilize remote manual breaker controls located beyond the arc flash exposure zone within the substation building. These controls were to be used to open, close, rack in, and rack out the 13.8kV circuit breakers in the substation building.
  • Install a main-tie-tie-main configuration that allowed complete power supply isolation for maintenance access. The tie was designed to operate in the closed position to improve the substation reliability and limit single points of failure.
  • Implement a redundant relay design providing equipment isolation that is limited to a single zone of protection during a potential relay failure.
  • Utilize a 230kV half ring bus configuration to improve the reliability of the electrical transmission system.

The design, construction and testing of the substation had to be rigorous and methodical. The client required seamless implementation of the startup, as a functional failure in a main electrical substation could result in equipment damages far exceeding the initial cost outlay of the substation. Delays would result in a significant financial and environmental impact.


M S Benbow  & Associates (MSB) was engaged to ensure that the startup, commissioning and operation of the substation was executed with as little interruption as possible. The management directive was to complete a “flawless” startup to avoid a costly functional failure of the substation, which could easily result in damage that would exceed the initial costs of the substation.

Planning, implementation and adaptability are critical to a successful project. For this reason, a procedural-based, layered approach to substation startup and commissioning was developed. MSB was part of a team consisting of specialists, site engineers, utility engineers, consultants and a project manager. The start-up team was comprised largely of members not involved in the original planning and design, thus providing an opportunity for a fresh set of eyes to verify that the system would perform as desired prior to proceeding with factory testing and startup.

MSB developed detailed test procedures and checklists that were compiled from manufacturer drawings, refinery test procedures, industry test procedures and team members’ individual experience. These procedures and checklists detailed the processes for factory acceptance tests and site checkout and commissioning, which included tests for:

  • Circulating current – to verify directional relay settings and CT polarities
  • Secondary current injection – to test relay operation
  • Primary current injection – to simulate faults and verify CT connections
  • Primary voltage injection – to simulate faults and verity PT connections
  • Bolted ground fault – connecting a conductor between phase and ground on a resistance grounded system to test the ground system protective relaying
  • Load simulations – using test sets to simulate actual load conditions
  • Functional simulations – to verify the multi-tiered relay protection logic would operate as intended


MSB helped the client startup, commission, and operate a grass roots substation that met the core goals of safety, reliability, and increased load capacity and equipment protection.

The startup was implemented in phases and load was successfully added to the substation without power outage to the unit, minimizing facility exposure.

As planned, the startup was flawlessly implemented, due in large part to M S Benbow’s commitment to methodical and thorough review, testing and documentation processes. After the substation was checked out and commissioned, MSB developed detailed operating procedures for each piece of equipment in the substation.

With the enhanced capacity and a thoroughly tested new substation with accurate drawings and procedures, the company subsequently transferred additional units to the new substation, reducing load on existing antiquated substations and improving reliability.


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.




M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) is a leader in the field of electrical engineering and performs electrical analysis, reliability improvements, equipment retrofits and grassroots designs for various industries across the Gulf Coast including refineries, chemical plants and pipeline facilities. With a long history of handling complex and time-sensitive projects, we serve our clients’ needs in an efficient manner while always maintaining industry standards for reliability and safety.  With more than 20 years experience, our engineers have provided detailed engineering and design of electrical power distribution systems, system analysis, troubleshooting and technical support.


  • Create initial design and all levels of technical documents, including estimation, scope, specification, design and installation packages.
  • Provide all levels of system analysis to ensure that electrical systems are adequately rated and determine additional capacity, system reliability and safety.
  • Develop the required documentation to assist clients in understanding how to safely start-up, commission and operate their electrical systems.
  • Troubleshoot and assist clients in determining causes for failures and course of action to get systems back online.
  • Members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), International Society of Automation (ISA), Louisiana Engineering Society (LES), National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). For a complete list of all affiliations and certifications click here.