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Lanner WITNESS simulation is used to carry out liquid berth utlisation study for Ras Laffan Industrial City. 

Background

Situated in the North of the Qatari Peninsula, Ras Laffan Port is the world’s largest for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exporting port. Built at a cost of one billion US dollars, the port was designed as an export facility for LNG, Condensate and Sulphur. These are the main exports from Qatar Liquefied Natural Gas Co. Ltd (Qatargas) and Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co. Ltd. (RasGas), which are the two projects currently operating within Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLC). Both Qatargas and RasGas have ambitious expansion plans, which will result in the total LNG exports being increased from 12.6 million tonnes per annum to around 27 million tonnes per annum by 2008.

In addition to the aforementioned project expansions, memoranda of understanding (MOU) have been signed with international energy corporations and states for the construction of future industries. These industries include condensate refining, gas to liquid (GTLs) and petrochemical projects. To understand how to meet the challenge of dealing with greater volumes and a greater range of products RLC turned to simulation modelling and put its requirements out to tender. Lanner Group was subsequently awarded the contract, which involved a detailed capacity utilisation study related to liquid berth utilisation, development and allocation at RLC. Lanner used a winning combination of its experience in the hydrocarbons industry, in conjunction with its world leading WITNESS simulation software, to perform the study.

Benefits of simulation modelling

Simulation modelling equips organizations with the much-needed ability to ask “what-if?” when making strategic decisions. Simulation’s unique time based approach, in conjunction with the ability to reflect the factors that vary, enables models to accurately mimic the complexities of real life systems. As a result, decision-makers can be sure that they have found the solution that strikes the right balance between capital costs and service levels.

The port at RLC currently has one liquid berth operational; this has insufficient capacity to accommodate the expansion of Ras Laffan Industrial City. The port has capacity to support up to six liquid berths; consideration has also been given to SBMs (Single Buoy Moorings). Given the capital-intensive nature of building additional berths, it is imperative that the business case for how best to expand the port has been thoroughly validated in order to:

  • Provide confidence to the clients within RLC that their loading requirements are met
  • Identify a plan for the expansion that adds capacity at the most appropriate times in order to maximise return on investment by avoiding the premature introduction of redundant capacity
  • Strike the right balance between capital investment costs and demurrage penalties
  • Identify the most appropriate allocation of products to berths with the associated loading arm configuration.

To address the above factors the simulation study needed to:

  • Accurately reflect all interacting aspects that impact on ship loading. This included channel lockouts, weather and wind events, equipment failures, etc.
  • Represent the interdependence between the projects (where the output from one project is the feedstock to another project)
  • Align the commissioning dates for additional berths to project expansion or startup dates
  • Provide the ability to step forward in time and identify and address potential issues
  • Perform sensitivity analysis on the susceptibility of berth commissioning profiles and product allocations to random events. For example, current, high and low wind, ship arrival delays, equipment stoppages and parcel sizes.

Without such a simulation study it would be almost impossible to predict the dynamic performance of the port and therefore coming up with an expansion plan would be thwart with risk and lack the buy-in from all parties.

Results

The study has been well received and has equipped RLC with a working model for ongoing evaluation of the impacts of future industries. The work has been acknowledged as best practice; moreover, simulation will be a key aspect of all future strategic decision making.


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