PETRONAS Collaborates with Yokogawa to Establish O-PAS Test Bed and Field Trial

March 10, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino

Malaysia’s Petroleum Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) announced a testbed and industrial field trial based on the Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS).

The project aims to improve autonomous operations in industrial scenarios and see PETRONAS's collaboration with Yokogawa.


petrnoas refinery

An unnamed PETRONAS oil plant. Image used courtesy of PETRONAS


The project was first announced during the virtual 25th Annual ARC Industry Forum event. These trials will be carried out at the Institut Teknologi Petroleum PETRONAS (INSTEP) training plant in Batu Rakit, Malaysia.


PETRONAS: A Company Overview

PETRONAS is a government-owned Malaysian oil and gas company responsible for managing the entire oil and gas resources in the country. The company is currently looking for international energy investments both in hydrocarbons and renewables and new projects to improve the efficiency and reliability of its operations.

PETRONAS' portfolio reportedly counts more than 216 producing fields with over 381 offshore platforms today. 

The company is present in more than 70 countries, hiring almost 30 representative and marketing offices for lubricants and petrochemical products and over 2,000 retail stations in Malaysia, South Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. PETRONAS currently owns three refineries, 11 blending plants, 18 petrochemical manufacturing plants, and two fully integrated complexes. 


The Open Process Automation Standard

The O-PAS is an open, interoperable process control architecture, which development started in 2016 under the supervision of the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). The forum is an international group of end-users, suppliers, system integrators, companies, and universities collaborating to address technical and business issues for process automation. 

O-PAS is the most prominent achievement of OPAF. It is designed to address the need from industrial automation manufacturers and suppliers for a standard designed to make the industry more modular.

The Open Process Automation Forum has unveiled a three-year release road map in 2019, intended to address progressively more detailed themes. According to the plan, the forum analyzed issues on interoperability in 2019, configuration portability in 2020 and will focus on application portability throughout 2021.

PETRONAS and Yokogawa are both members of OPAF, and the new testbed and industrial field trials will reportedly adhere to O-PAS.

"Emerging automation technologies based on O-PAS promise an open-sharing platform, thus adding agility for data liberalization and enabling new operational models at a lower cost," said PETRONAS Group Technical Authority Sharul A. Rashid, commenting on the project.


Improving Autonomous Operations

The new partnership between PETRONAS and Yokogawa has been signed under a Memorandum of Understanding last year and mentions applications in operational excellence, business arrangement, education, talent, and capability building.


PETRONAS workers deploying their automation solutions. Image used courtesy of PETRONAS


The project will see the testing of various systems' multi-vendor interoperability, cybersecurity, and advanced functionality. Technologies planned for deployment during the trials include 5G, IIoT, and distributed control systems (DCS).

According to Project Delivery and Technology Senior Vice President Samsudin Miskon, the collaboration fits perfectly into PETRONAS' digitalization plans. 

"With the current challenges facing the energy ecosystem, and as the energy transition accelerates," he explained, "PETRONAS constantly pushes the techno-digital frontiers to make step-change improvements in our operational efficiencies and reduce the carbon footprint for a sustainable future." 

The new project will also collaborate with third-party suppliers and other operators to increase PETRONAS's reach and improve autonomous operations for the automation industry in the Asia Pacific region.

What do you think about the new partnership? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below.