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The Atlantic LNG Train 2/3 Expansion Project

Turning the Challenges into Successes with Technology

Dave Messersmith
LNG Technology Manager
Bechtel Corporation
Carlos Yengle
Process Engineer
Bechtel Corporation
Peter Rutherford
Control and Instrumentation Engineer
BP America
Trent Yackimec
Process Engineer
BP America

Prepared for Presentation

The 21st International Conference & Exhibition
for the LNG, LPG and Natural Gas Industries
in Bilbao, Spain
14 17 March 2005

The Expansion Project for Atlantic LNG came just 5 short months after the successful completion of the landmark first
train project. The expansion was to include an additional 2 trains of gas treatment, LNG production, and supplemental
auxiliaries and utilities with appropriate tie-in connections to the existing facilities. At the same time, studies began to
evaluate the potential for de-bottlenecking the first train.
The feed gas pressure and identified Train 1 operational issues were ongoing challenges throughout the design phase.
Design data evolution led to the addition of an inlet compression system late in the EPC phase of the project.
Quantifying the impact of the inlet compression system both commercially and operationally on the existing facility
provides the main technical thrust of the paper. The overall success of this effort was paramount in the success of the
expansion project. Due to the impact an upset condition in this system would have on the stability of the 3 operating
trains, it was felt that intensive study including modeling was necessary. Of paramount importance was ensuring that the
control systems of the liquefaction units could adequately react to any operational issues occurring in the inlet
compression system. The overall facility was modeled dynamically. A variety of operational upsets in the inlet
compression module were simulated to determine their impact on the operational units and vice versa. The results
provided guidelines for the overall control scheme. Once the feed gas compression system came on-line, the scenarios
studied were then compared to actual events, this provided validation of use of the model.

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The Atlantic LNG facility in Point Fortin, Trinidad currently consists of three processing units in commercial operation with
a fourth train under construction, progressing toward a 2005 start date. The total design LNG production capacity for the
3 trains is 9.65 MTPA with Train 4 expected to contribute 5.18 MTPA additional for a total of 14.93 MTPA. Current
operation of existing facility allows a realization of approximately 10% over design.
Each train and major project experienced its own unique set of challenges and successes during the development of the
Atlantic LNG facility. For Train 1, fundamental design challenges existed due to the three-fold scale up of a process
design whilst delivering a competitive capital cost per metric tonne. For Trains 2 and 3, the basic plant design was not
substantially changed, however, the goal to realize a 10% increase in design capacity created intense challenges when an
aggressive project schedule was imposed. Additionally, throughout the design phase of Trains 2 and 3, there was
prolonged uncertainty over the supply of feed gas. This ultimately culminated in the addition of an inlet feed gas
compressor, very late in the design phase, to an existing feed gas pipeline.
This paper will give an overview of the scope of the Train 2/3 Expansion project as well as an in depth discussion of how
the use of a dynamic process simulator was used to manage the risk posed by the late inclusion of the feed gas
compressor. In addition, comparisons of theoretical versus field-tested results for a trip of this machine, and its impact
on the operating plants, will be presented.

Train 1 was the first single-train, green field LNG liquefaction facility constructed in 25 years and there were a number of
challenges to be overcome in order for it to be deemed a success. The Phillips Optimized Open Loop Cascade Process,
upon which the plant was designed, was untested commercially. Although the basic process configuration was similar to
the Kenai Alaska facility, there was a three-fold scale up required to meet the design requirements. In addition to the
large capacity, the unit reliability was expected to meet or exceed industry standards for other liquefaction processes.
Schedule requirements were very stringent, 36 months from contract to turnover was planned with performance testing
and ship loading required prior to turnover. Train 1 entered commercial operation in 1999 and established world-class
metrics for cost and project execution cycle. The initial LNG production capacity of the train exceeded its design by 6%),
Additionally delivers a mixed NGL product to a nearby facility for further fractionation.


Building on the success of Train 1, the Train 2/3 Expansion Project was committed to shortly after the completion of
Train 1. The expansion included two additional, near-duplicate trains with modifications to facilitate 10% additional
capacity. The key design change to deliver this increased capacity was the use of Frame 5D refrigeration compressor
drivers in lieu of Frame 5C machines used on Train 1. Other minor modifications were made to efficiently utilize the
additional power available and reduce some known process limitations to capacity.
Outside of the main liquefaction trains, the Train 2/3 project scope included expansion of site utility systems for power,
NGL treatment, product storage and refrigerant handling. Increased LNG storage was provided via a new 160,000 m3
dual containment tank, increasing total site storage to 364,000 m3 in three individual tanks.
Whilst the process design did not offer the challenges of Train 1, the project schedule was aggressive from the outset,
requiring start up of train 2 within 24 months from Project sanction. The Train 2/3 engineering design was running in
parallel with early operation of the new Train 1 facility. A few problem areas, as well as a few simple opportunities, were
revealed during this early Train 1 experience. These lessons learned were incorporated as far as possible into the Train
2/3 design where such changes would not adversely impact the Projects schedule and cost. The enhancements within
the Liquefaction section were made in conjunction with ConocoPhillips Company, the liquefaction technology licensor.
Such enhancements included:

Improvements to propane system hydraulics

Reduced heat exchanger pressure drops
Improved heavies removal column mechanical design
Anti-surge valve upgrades
Enhanced front end gas filtration
Improved molecular sieve piping configuration

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Trains 2 and 3 were to be sited adjacent to Train 1 and utilize existing infrastructure. Each Train was to be self sufficient
with respect to process utilities however the systems would be inter-connected between the three trains to provide added
reliability for each individual unit. The nominal capacity of each Train was to be 3.36 MTPA.
Picture 1: Atlantic LNG Aerial from October 2003

As the engineering design progressed, uncertainty arose over the actual feed gas supply source for the expansion Trains.
The expansion project scope included a the new 24 pipeline from gas fields to the north of Trinidad however this only
supplied gas for Train capacity owned by one of Atlantic shareholders. The remaining gas was to be supplied from the
existing 36 pipeline that was installed for Train 1. After a period of deliberation, it was determined that the existing 36
pipeline could not deliver its share of the required volume to the expanded facility at the required inlet pressure. Work
therefore began on the installation of a pipeline compressor to boost the inlet pressure from this feed source.
Commercial, contractual, and operational complexities forced the location of this compressor to be directly upstream of
the LNG trains as illustrated in Figure 1. This was highly undesirable from an operational perspective as such a location
meant there was no buffer between the compressor and the Trains. There was thus nothing to protect the Trains from
major process disturbances should upsets occur on the inlet gas compressor. The feed gas compressor would supply at
least a proportion of feed gas to all 3 trains.
The introduction of the new compressor thus posed a significant operational and commercial risk to the whole facility:

Any delay in engineering, construction or commissioning would adversely impact project economics, as total
facility capacity would be limited by 10-15%.
Any significant operational or reliability issues introduced by the compressor could have a substantial impact.

Whilst conventional good project management could generally address the first concern of schedule, effective
management of the operational risks would require an innovative engineering activity the use of dynamic simulation in
process design.
Figure 1: Inlet Configuration Schematic

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The Inlet Feed Compressor, C-31101, was designed to process 1280 mmscfd with inlet and outlet pressures of 37.5 barg
and 52 barg respectively. A Nuovo Pignone Frame 5C Industrial Gas Turbine was the chosen driver of a 3-wheel, singlestage barrel compressor.
The Inlet Feed Compressor installation is illustrated in Figure 2.
As the compressor was being added to an existing operational pipeline, the compressor bypass check valve and process
tie-in valves were installed during an opportune shutdown some months in advance of compressor commissioning. This
allowed later online commissioning of the compressor without significant disturbance to train production.
The revised inlet feed system was required to operate over a very wide range of operating scenarios. Normal full rate
production would require the compressor to perform in the conditions outlined above. Situations could potentially arise
however where only one Train could be in production and possibly at half rates. This could mean operation at about 250
mmscfd with a pipeline delivery pressure of 65 barg. The compressor and associated control system were required to
perform over this range of conditions and adequately handle transitions and trip events. Detail of the specific technique
employed for the pressure controller tuning is included in Appendix 1.

To Trains 1,
2, and 3

Compressor Bypass
Check Valve

Meter Skid


Inlet Slug


Recycle Valve


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C-31101, Inlet
Feed Compressor


Aerial After

understood a
trip of the
would result
in immediate
loss of inlet
pressure and
flow to the

event could possibly result in cascading trips or shutdowns of the main liquefaction refrigeration compressors or full train
shutdowns. Conversely, an upset on, or shutdown of, a train could upset and possibly trip the inlet compressor and
subsequently impact the other trains.


In an effort to understand the complex dynamic operational relationships between the new compressor and the trains,
the project utilized the HYSYS.Plant Process simulator to complete a dynamic simulation of the overall facility.
The model was built using Hysys.Plant version 2.4.1 and included the Inlet feed gas treatment, Heavies removal, NGL
recovery, refrigeration (Propane, Ethylene), Liquefaction, methane compression, and both inlet pipelines. All equipment
and instrumentation such as compressors, brazed aluminum, shell and tube and air cooled heat exchangers, pumps,
vessels, valves, valve actuators and controllers were modeled using predefined unit operations found in the Hysys.Plant
library with adjustments as necessary based on experience. A transfer function model was implemented in the simulation
to capture turbine power dynamic responses while balancing driver speed reference and demand during transient
conditions. System volumes and hydraulics were based on isometric drawings and vendor prints. Controller tuning
parameters from the existing Train 1 plant were implemented in the model.
Train 1 receives all of its inlet gas from the BP pipeline and as such, has the most severe reaction to operational upsets in
the feed gas compression area. Trains 2 and 3 only receive 50% and 75% respectively of their inlets from the
BP pipeline and therefore were modeled empirically using results from the data produced for Train 1. This allowed a
faster runtime of the model without affecting the main results of interest.

Initial Simulation Scenarios

The Dynamic Simulation Study examined the following two broad range scenarios.
A Train 1 SDP (Process Shutdown) and its effect on the feed gas compressor and remaining two liquefaction
A feed gas compressor trip and its effect on the three liquefaction trains
The results of this scenario 1 showed that a Train 1 plant shutdown had no significant adverse effect on the operation of
the feed gas compressor and subsequently, Trains 2 and 3. The inlet flows and pressures for these trains remained
stable and the feed gas compressor was adequately protected from surge.
Scenario 2, a trip of the feed gas compressor itself, resulted in significant concern and, as a result, much more analysis.
The simulation results for this scenario were expected to show that a trip of the feed gas compressor and loss of feed to
the trains would result in the refrigeration compressors being driven toward surge, the possible loss of condensing of the
gas stream, upsets in chiller and flash drum levels, and upsets in fuel gas pressure to the refrigeration compressor
drivers. One of the main objectives of the scenario was to determine if the refrigeration compressors anti-surge
controllers could successfully handle this extreme disturbance.
The dynamic simulation seemed to confirm all of the expected impacts of this event. There was such an immediate drop
of pressure in the BP pipeline header that all three trains were completely starved of inlet flow from this source. The
simulation predicted that all three trains would have zero gas inlet flow from the BP pipeline until such time that the
rising pipeline pressure exceeded the pressure in the BP inlet header downstream of the feed gas compressor and thus
opened the bypass check valve around the machine. The simulation predicted this occurred 1 minute and 30 seconds
after the C-31101 trip. During this time Trains 2 and 3 still had feed from the BG pipeline but Train 1, entirely dependant
on the BP pipeline for its feed had an inlet flow rate of zero and experienced the most extreme disturbance of the three
The simulation indicated that full condensing of the inlet stream would not be lost but did show erratic fluctuations in the
fuel gas pressure in the plant. It also confirmed that the compressor surge controllers would, in fact, react fast enough
to prevent the machines from surging. A particular cause for concern for the Design Team however, were two extreme
flow fluctuations in the methane system after the machines had reached a new steady state, controlling on their surge
control lines. These two large flow disturbances effected massive fluctuations of the methane machine surge control
valves (50% of valve stroke) and resulted in the machines entering surge.
Analysis of all the data generated by the dynamic simulation for this case allowed for this flow disturbance to be traced
back to the total loss of flow into Train 1. It was surmised that the total loss of feed resulted in the full closure of the
plant JT pressure control valve, located immediately upstream the methane section of the liquefaction plant. When the

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pipeline pressure had subsequently risen to the point allowing forward flow to resume, the reopening of the JT valve
resulted in an immediate flow increase to the methane system and effected a dramatic reduction of the surge control
valve position. The subsequent interactions between the JT pressure controller and the methane compressors anti-surge
controller resulted in flow oscillations that the simulation predicted would place the methane compressors into surge and
likely result in a plant trip.

Final Simulation Scenario

This analysis of the data from the previous scenario, along with the postulation that Train 1s operation and recovery was
dependent on ensuring forward flow to the plant never dropped completely to zero, allowed for a new theory to be put
forth for scrutiny.
Until such time that the pressure rise in the BP pipeline restores forward flow into the facility, Train 1 is entirely
dependant on the volume of high-pressure gas residing in the BP feed gas header downstream of the inlet compressor.
Any volume of gas that Train 2 or 3 remove from that header adds to the likelihood that Train 1s inlet rate will drop
completely to zero and severely limits the ability of the train to successfully navigate the process upset.
A final simulation scenario was setup to test this last theory. To preserve BP gas for Train 1, Trains 2 and 3 had their BP
inlet flow control valves closed after the trip of the feed gas compressor. To minimize this disturbance to their systems,
the flow inlet to these two trains by the BG pipeline was adjusted until both trains were operating at 50% rates using a
feedstock from the BG pipeline only. The resultant flow was above the steady state capacity of the BG pipeline but the
pipeline line-pack allowed for this flow rate to be sustained for a limited period of time.
The approach described above provided encouraging results for the Design Team. Eliminating the draw on the BP inlet
header by Trains 2 and 3 allowed positive forward flow to be maintained into Train 1 until the BP pipeline had recovered
and was able to once again flow into the facility. But most importantly, the response of the refrigeration compressors in
Train 1 no longer illustrated the dramatic flow disturbances that had previously caused the compressor flows to drop
below the surge control point. The following
graphs show the responses from the original
Fig. 3 - Train 1 Inlet Feed Gas Molar Flow
simulation as well as the modified solution.
Molar Flow (kgmole/h)

Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6 illustrate the

improvement from the original control scheme
for the revised operation following the
simulation adjustments.




Fig. 4 - Train 1 Inlet Feed
Gas Pressure


Time (min)



Fig. 5 - Train 1 Methane Compressor Surge Valve Position


Percentage Open (%)

Pressure (bar)


Time (min)




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Time (min)

Fig. 6 - Train 1 Methane Compressor Surge Margin

Surge Margin (m3/h)




Time (min)

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The dynamic simulation had enabled identification of a course of action that would minimize the impact of a trip of the
inlet feed gas compressor on the operating trains.
Whilst the addition of the inlet feed compressor had brought concern to the project engineering team, having a single
piece of equipment immediately upstream of their operating plants was similarly a concern for the site operating team.
After some consideration, it was agreed that a deliberate shutdown of the compressor should be executed to confirm the
outcome of the dynamic simulation studies and to generate operator confidence in the system design and procedures.
The BP Inlet Feed Gas Compressor, C-31101, was commissioned in May 2003 in parallel with Train 3 start up activities.
The compressor was required to be online before Train 3 could achieve full production and a two-pronged effort was
underway to have both systems operational as soon as possible.
As C-31101 entered its final stage of commissioning, preparations were made for the feed gas compressor trip test. With
all three trains operating at full rates, an emergency stop of the inlet feed gas compressor was purposely initiated. As
determined by the Dynamic Simulation Study, Trains 2 and 3 Operations personnel had instructions, on initiation of the
trip, to reduce their BP feed to zero and continue operation on 50% flow rates processing BG inlet gas only. Train 1 was
tasked with attempting to maintain 50% rates on BP inlet gas only.

BP Inlet Response
When C-31101 was tripped, Trains 2 and 3 reduced their BP inlet rates to 0 mmscfh. In the 35 seconds immediately
following the compressor trip, the pressure in the BP delivery header downstream of the inlet compressor dropped rapidly
as Train 1 continued to process gas from this volume. At this point the pipeline delivery pressure wasnt sufficient to feed
past the inlet compressor bypass check valve. During this period of time there was zero flow rate being inlet to the site
from the BP pipeline.
After 35 seconds the combination of the pressure decrease in the delivery header coupled with
the pipeline line pack increase allowed for the resumption of forward flow into the facility. Approximately 6.5 minutes
after initiation of the feed gas compressor trip the BP pipeline inlet pressure recovered to 51 barg.

Train 1 Response
During this test Train 1 saw its flow rate decrease to 22% of initial rates before recovering. As predicted by the dynamic
simulation, closing the BP flow control valves to Trains 2 and 3 allowed Train 1 to maintain at least partial rates into the
plant until the pipeline was able to reestablish forward flow into the facility. This dramatic change in flow rate over a
short period of time caused many operational upsets in the train but no compressor tripped and the train was able to ride
out the disturbances. Figures 7, 8 and 9 graphically compare key Train 1 responses to the simulation results.

Molar Flow (kgmole/h)

As expected, the recycle

Fig. 7 - Train 1 Inlet Feed Gas Molar Flow - Field Data
quickly after the loss of the
Fig. 8 - Train
1 Inlet Feed Gas Pressure - Field Data
Pressure (bar)



Field Data

valves on the
began to open
Condensing of the

Fie ld Da ta




Time (min)


Time (min)

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Fig. 9 - Train 1 Methane Compressor Surge Valve Position Field Data

Percentage Open (%)

Field Data


Time (min)

Train 2 and 3 Response

Train 2 responded fairly smoothly to the inlet compressor trip. As the train normally processes 50% of its flow rate from
the BG pipeline, operators simply ramped shut the BP inlet flow control valve and the train easily managed the upset.
Train 3 normally processes only 25% of its inlet feed from the BG pipeline and were required to simultaneously eliminate
75% of their feed from the BP pipeline while increasing their inlet from the BG pipeline to 50%. As they were making
this transition Train 3 did experience a high inlet pressure trip of their inlet control valves but were able to quickly reset
the valves and open the BG inlet before impacting their operation.
Both Trains 2 and 3 were able to handle the process upset without it impacting their refrigeration compressors.
After the feed Gas Compressor trip, Trains 1, 2, & 3 were restricted to 50% rates. The rate conditions are reflected in
the above figures and account for the difference aoserved between the theoretical and the field results.

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Overall the trains responded in a very similar way to that predicted by dynamic simulation. The use of a dynamic process
simulation allowed the Design Team of the Atlantic LNG Train 2/3 Expansion unparalleled freedom investigating the
unique interaction between the Inlet Feed Gas Compressor and the three LNG liquefaction trains. Use of the model
allowed for the identification of operational concerns and facilitated the evaluation of various solutions to these problems.
The feed gas compressor has proven to be extremely robust and reliable but the facility also now have a proven
procedure in place to give themselves the best opportunity available to transition through the upsets generated by either
a compressor trip or unit upset.
Atlantic LNG and Bechtel design engineers expect to utilize the dynamic simulation model prepared for this exercise for
various other plant projects and initiatives.

The success of Atlantic Train 1 is well known in the modern LNG industry based on its breakthrough cost per tonne and
exceptional project performance. It has been used as a benchmark for new LNG construction since then.
Train 2 start up in the summer of 2002 continued the success story. It was only 24 months from contract start to first
LNG produced; only 33 months from early release of engineering. Turnover was complete by the 11th of October, only 68
days from first LNG. As per Train 1 Project, all the potential bonuses were qualified for, including safety, schedule, first
ship, performance test and long-term production. The scheduled turnover for Train 2 was December 15th, 2002.
Train 3 start up in the spring of 2003 illustrated even more process improvements in the startup schedule. It was only 46
days from first LNG to turnover on June 13th, 2003. For the third time all the potential bonuses were qualified for. The
scheduled turnover for Train 3 was September 2nd, 2003. The combined three-train cost was approximately $158/TPA.
Building yet again on these project successes, Train 4 began engineering in 2003; the contract is still in negotiations.
Work is proceeding under a limited letter of commitment with the first LNG targeted for 4th quarter 2005(following a 12
week schedule loss due to a labor dispute).

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Appendix 1 - Inlet Pressure Control Tuning

Control of feed gas pressure to the Trains is achieved via two pressure controllers. When the feed gas compressor is
offline or at minimum speed, a pressure controller throttles a pressure control valve upstream of the compressor. When
the compressor is operational and above minimum speed, the control valve is fully open and a separate pressure
controller modulates the speed of the compressor to control pressure.
Interaction between the two controllers is minimized by forcing a difference between the set-points of these two
controllers. This ensures that only one controller is active at any time except during transient conditions. During a
transient condition, both controllers act together until one saturates or reaches a limit on its output. e.g. during a
sustained high pressure disturbance (e.g. following a shutdown of a downstream Train), the pressure controller acting on
the compressor will reduce compressor speed, ultimately to minimum and the other pressure controller will then throttle
the pressure control valve to maintain the required pressure.
Prior to the implementation of the feed gas compressor, control of gas delivery pressure to the trains (via throttling of the
pressure control valve) had been a consistent problem. Analysis showed that this was due to the highly variable process
conditions in which the control valve was required to operate.
Under normal conditions the flow to the trains would be relatively high, with a low pressure drop present across the
valve. Under other circumstances, such as Train outages, the flow could be low with very high pressure drop.
Usually, the approach to dealing with such conditions is to use an equal percentage valve trim, to provide a linear
(consistent) response from the valve, no matter what position the valve is operated at. Unfortunately, the installed valve
trim was linear and replacement with the correct trim would have been very costly in terms of both capital and downtime.
The problem manifested itself in controller instability at reduced flow rates, effectively due to the process becoming very
sensitive to changes to the valve position at low flows. Typically this resulted in manual operation of the valve at low
The introduction of the feed gas compressor added complexity to the problem, in that it widened further the range of
valve operating conditions. At the increased flow rates with Trains 2 and 3 operational, the valve would actually operate
full open while the compressor was on-line. In the event of abnormal conditions e.g. a train shutdown or feed gas
compressor shutdown, the controller and valve would have to respond quickly to resume control of feed gas pressure.
A somewhat unusual technique was devised to ensure robust yet tight tuning of the pressure controller. A control system
calculation was developed to continuously calculate the optimal controller tuning based on valve differential pressure and
valve position. The pressure controller tuning was then configured to be continuously updated with the calculated
adaptive tuning constants.
This approach was tested during feed gas compressor commissioning and found to be extremely effective. As an
example, during the extreme disturbance of a feed gas compressor trip, the calculation would dynamically adjust the
controller gain from 50 to about 2. The dynamic controller tuning is designed to occur transparently to the operator and
has substantially improved control loop performance and operator confidence in the control scheme.
The control scheme configuration is shown in Figure 10.

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Figure 10: Inlet Compressor Control Scheme

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