Adnoc Refining – Continued Refinement

We follow up with Adnoc Refining to find out about their continued process of transformation.

ADNOC Refining, the refinery arm of ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) take the crude oil produced by the rest of the Group and turn it into gasoline, jet fuel, LPG and other usable petroleum products. Last year we had a fascinating conversation with them about a bold project to run the various refinery specific applications used by the company in synchronisation with each other, giving the business a holistic view of their entire operation.

Since we last spoke to ADNOC Refining has continued to build on the project, overcoming some hurdles along the way. When we’re reunited with Fuad Al-Ansari, the Vice President of
Information Technology for ADNOC Refining, he is keen to tell us about their progress.
“I would say that since last year we have become more complex in our operations,” Al-Ansari says. “We’ve seen such a rapid expansion in our refineries which inherently has increased the level
of importance of our assets. Also, we’ve engaged in a new joint venture with our international partners; ENI and OMV.”
The complexity of the project brings its own challenges as Al-Ansari explains. “In such a complex and vast environment the infrastructure has become more critical than ever. These are the challenges our company is facing in general and from an IT perspective we need to address those challenges in order to enable our business with a competitive edge,” he says. To address its challenges ADNOC Refining has developed an agile digital platform that can cope with that level of complexity and address the rapid expansion of the operation while providing robust and scalable solutions. “To address the criticality and sensitivity of the infrastructure from an IT perspective we have to create a safe and secure environment, addressing the risks associated with the convergence of IT and OT (operation technology),” Al-Ansari says.
This is the challenge IRIS or the Integrated Refinery Information System, was designed to overcome, and since we last talked with Al-Ansari the project has come a long way.
“The IRIS project is comprised of 17 refinery specific applications that are integrated horizontally and extract operational data from the OSI-PI historian database and turn it into contextual
information so to provide us with total visibility of the operation and give our management the basic tools for a faster and more calculated decision-making process,” Al-Ansari says. “It gives
us a benchmark for the actual performance of our facilities, as well as timely response times to changes in the marketplace.”


For ADNOC Refining it has been a journey of Digital Transformation in the past few years. “We are utilizing a set of innovative tools from the Honeywell suite of applications to address various aspects of our business. Applications such as Operator Logbook allow operators to transfer from traditional log entries and logging of activities, into a collaborative digital platform
where everything is predefined and preconfigured in a very hightech environment so they can be analysed and reviewed by other peers instantly. The conversation now shifts from what happened to what can be done. We are moving towards a more pro-active mode of operation”
Another component of IRIS offers the business a state-of-the-art asset integrity solution. “It is a Honeywell product we’re using called Asset Sentinel,” Al-Ansari says. “It gives us visibility of more than 800 critical assets across the operation. At any point in time, we can monitor and gauge their efficiency, and if they operate outside of their operating window it’ll be highlighted instantly. Again, this is an example of how the philosophy around maintenance is moving towards condition-based than schedule and time-based.”

This is just one of the features IRIS has which coalesce large amounts of data, making them easy to interpret so that engineers can make essential decisions.
“We’ve developed more than 3,700 Key Performance Indicators which are being extracted from across the operation and are being displayed in a user-friendly dashboard that is accessible to every layer of the organisation,”
Al-Ansari points out. “These are just a few of the major applications that make up the IRIS. We have got a Production Accounting and Scheduling system in place that reconciles the whole operational values. It used to take us weeks to take our operational mass balance, but nowadays we can do it in less than a day. It’s a one-of-a-kind set up in the refining business.”


These tools are essential for ADNOC because the oil and gas sector is one where it’s critical to remain constantly aware of the data. As Al-Ansari says, “For the refinery business it’s important to track your Refining Margin continuously. If you’re selling a barrel of crude for X amount of dollars and after refining it and producing other refined products you gain Y amount of dollars, then the difference between those numbers is your refining margin, after discounting the operating costs and all the costs associated with production. Given the data availability of IRIS, we have a practical solution that allows us to do this calculation quickly and precisely. All the processes are going digital and we don’t have to rely on manual calculations anymore. What used to take us weeks now takes less than a day to complete.”
“The new JV with Eni and OMV encourages us to be more creative in stretching the dollar value out of each barrel of crude that we process,” he continues. “Our end-to-end Supply Chain Management needs to access and analyse the production values in a much more complex and faster pace where a sophisticated system such as IRIS will play a pivotal role in their decision-making process.”
IRIS has already proved a success story for ADNOC Refining in terms of Digital Transformation, but Al-Ansari believes it’s more than that. He argues that it’s nothing less than a vision of the
Smart Refineries. “We believe that with the foundation that we have put in place as IRIS, we’ve paved the way in creating the future Paradigm of Digital Twin for our Operation,” he says. “That means with IRIS we’ll have a single source of truth, we have a business advisory tool, and we have total visibility across the whole operation. Utilizing the Digital Twin we would be capable
of tuning our plant closer to optimum conditions.
“Our ultimate goal is to create an agile software framework that is able to use real-time data to provide visual intelligence and actionable recommendations to help us optimize production
and increase profitability. That’s our vision of Refineries of the Future.”

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