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Laser scanning aids Saudi Aramco

3D laser scanning was used as an effective tool to determine tie-in points and help in routing of new pipe lines at one of Saudi Aramco’s biggest oil processing and crude stabilisation facilities

With a humongous capacity of seven million barrels per day, the Abqaiq plant facility is Saudi Aramco’s biggest oil processing and crude oil stabilisation facility. Besides, the facility is also the primary oil processing site for Arabian extra light and Arabian light crude oils. The Abqaiq plant facility handles crude oil pumped from the Ghawar field and is linked to the Shaybah oil field through a 395-mile pipeline, and to the export terminal in Yanbu through a natural gas liquid pipeline.

The facility comprises of three primary processing units – an oil processing unit, an NGL facility, and a utilities unit. As one of its major components, the oil processing unit consists of multiple spheroids and eighteen stabiliser columns where hydrogen sulphide and light hydrocarbons are removed from the crude oil.

On the other hand, the NGL facility contains eight compression trains and stripper columns. The utilities unit supplies power, steam, treated water and instrument air to the oil and NGL facilities. The power requirement of this gigantic facility is fulfilled by six power generators – three steam turbines and three combustion gas turbine generators. Steam generated by 14 boilers is supplied to the oil processing unit, NGL facility, turbines and compressors.

The mission:

As part of the close drain system project at the Saudi Aramco Abqaiq plant, it was required to conduct 3D laser scanning and provide the scan data and geometric CAD model in PDS (Plant Design Model) and Microstation DGN. The objective of the laser scanning was to determine the above ground features and their precise location. This included equipment, pipe rack structures, pipe and fittings and to know the location of cable trays etc. The captured images would then be used to determine the actual tie-in points and routing of new pipe lines as per the scope of the project. As a part of the project, it was also required to conduct flare stick inspection using thermal imaging techniques.

The Execution:

3D laser scanning was deployed as the standard technology for this project. Laser scanning is a technique that analyses a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i.e. colour). The collected data can then be used to construct digital, three dimensional models.

During the entire project, point cloud scanned over 360 degrees with a range of 152 m, with resolution density of 2 mm. The total scan positions reached 1230 spots with a total coverage area of 1,352,000 m² including several information categories.

Dimensional survey was carried out using Leica Geosystems Equipment. Customisation of piping specifications, report formats & border files as per client’s requirement was carried out. Equipment modeling, piping modeling and structural modeling was done in order to submit the piping layouts, isometrics and BOM report. Besides, a walk through video was also generated for the same and submitted to the client.