Improving the Business Performance of DEFS’s South Texas Assets Using Web-Based Optimization Technology

Developed with Duke Energy Field Services 2004 National GPA meeting

Joe Kuchinski and Rob King Duke Energy Field Services Houston, Texas, U.S.A

Mark E. Roop eSimulation, Inc. Houston, Texas, U.S.A.


DEFS was asked to consider applying a web-based optimization service to the Three Rivers gas plant. The Three Rivers plant is a single train cryogenic gas plant with a throughput of 80 mmscfd through the one processing train in operation during the operations timeframe. The plant has the capability of operating at 80%+ ethane recoveries at full load, and can run in a “sloppy recovery” mode to approximate rejection operation.

DEFS’s management team was skeptical! They had implemented traditional advanced control and optimization technologies and the results did not meet expectations. The packages were costly to deploy, costly to maintain, and didn’t have a high service factor through the many different operational mode changes that plants are subject too.

eSimulation, Inc’s web-based optimization service appeared to be different from traditional advanced technology approaches. First, the web-based optimization service combined:

  • A rigorous chemical engineering process model that considers all of the operational constraints that the plant works within.
  • An economic model that considers the contract mix at the front end of the plant and all business constraints the plant works within
  • Plant process and analyzer data
  • The current price desk for the residue and product commodity prices as well as T&F charges
  • To calculate optimal setpoint move suggestions for the facility

These optimal targets are updated every three hours and are accessed over a secure web page for implementation by the DEFS operations staff.

Second, the web-based optimization approach appeared to allow for sophisticated optimization technology to be offered at a price that is affordable for mid-stream processing applications. Plant data is extracted from the electronic control system using an industry standard interface. The data is transferred over the internet to eSimulation’s data center where it is processed in a rigorous process optimizer. The optimization results are then presented on a secure web page.

Lastly, the web-based optimization concept would allow the maintenance and support services required to keep the model matching the plant under a variety of process conditions, and operational modes, to be centralized which provides the potential for reducing costs.

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