When global oil prices are low, companies focus on operational excellence to drive margin improvement, which leads to new technologies being leveraged.

George BOU MITRI President HONEYWELL, KUWAIT, IRAQ, LEBANON and JORDAN

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March 28, 2017

TOGY talks to George Bou Mitri, president of Honeywell Kuwait, about the company’s recent milestones, its part in driving the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and its recently opened automation college. US-based Honeywell is a technology development and manufacturing company that covers three divisions: aerospace, performance materials and technologies, and automation and control services.

Honeywell has been present in Kuwait for more than 47 years. In December 2013, the company was awarded a supply and service contract for the largest refinery in Kuwait, Al Zour. The company was selected to provide integrated control and safety system to Kuwait National Petroleum Company-operated refinery. Another significant contract was awarded to Honeywell Kuwait by Kuwait Energy Company in September 2014.

• On automation and labour: “Automation does not necessarily equate to smaller workforces. It simply advocates smarter operations. Today, an employee can monitor and understand everything that is happening in an oilfield from their smartphone, tablet or computer.”

• On the Industrial Internet of Things:
“This cutting-edge innovation delivers new possibilities for safety, productivity, efficiency, organisational responsiveness and profitability, by delivering meaningful information where and when it is needed most.”

Besides touching on these topics, TOGY spoke at length to George Bou Mitri about work on the Al Zour refinery and managing security threats. Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform TOGYiN, but you can find the full interview with George Bou Mitri below.

 

Could you tell us about the automation system that you provide to the Al Zour refinery?
Al Zour is one of the largest refinery projects in the world, and we are very proud to be providing our proprietary, state-of-the-art Experion PKS integrated control and safety system, or ICSS, to serve as the main control system there. Honeywell will also provide the FEED for the system, which is unique because of the sheer magnitude of the refinery’s size and its projected output of 615,000 bpd.
We are also working on a simulator system that will be able to simulate activities of an actual refinery to help with training and to increase operational readiness at Al Zour. The simulation system environments are identical to the real controllers in terms of control execution, supported I/O [input/output] and control capacity, and is unique in that it can help prepare operators for various challenges or situations that may occur.

What do you think has brought about such a focus on automation?
When global oil prices are low, companies focus on operational excellence to drive margin improvement, which leads to new technologies being leveraged. At present, industrial early adopters are leveraging the power of the internet to optimise their business performance, which brings us to the subject of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The IIoT is a network that uses the internet to connect people, processes and assets in an industrial set-up for optimising business results. An IIoT-enabled plant uses a blend of advanced sensors, automation systems, cloud technologies and data analytics to become smarter. This cutting-edge innovation delivers new possibilities for safety, productivity, efficiency, organisational responsiveness and profitability, by delivering meaningful information where and when it is needed most. Analytics play a key part in this. We are able to turn data into meaningful and actionable insights. Honeywell’s advanced IIoT-powered automation and safety solutions enable the remote operation of facilities, which reduces overall production costs and improves safety. Everything from safety to everyday operations can be made better through technology. Essentially, we are helping companies improve their profitability, management ability and prevent potential mishaps.

How are security concerns addressed with regards to remote management?

Cyber security has become more important than ever, and Honeywell complements its expertise in automation control systems with robust industrial cyber security solutions and services.
Honeywell’s Industrial Cyber Security Solutions help plants and critical infrastructure sectors defend the availability, reliability and safety of their industrial control systems and plant operations.
From assessments and audits to response and recovery, our portfolio of end-to-end solutions leverages Honeywell’s industry-leading expertise and experience in process control and cyber security. Having delivered more than 1,000 industrial cyber projects both in the region and globally, Honeywell’s certified experts help users improve their cyber security posture. Its managed services and complete solutions are designed for the specific needs of process control environments including the oil and gas, chemicals and refining and petrochemicals industries.

Is Kuwait a high- or low-risk market in terms of security threats?

Kuwait is a very safe and secure country, but cyber threats are on the rise worldwide. Authorities here in Kuwait are very aware of the threat posed by cyber-attacks to the oil and gas industry, along with other sectors of the economy, and are taking active steps to shut down this threat.
Honeywell is also doing its part to help secure industrial sites using solutions such as Industrial Cyber Security Risk Manager, the first solution to proactively monitor, measure and manage cyber security risks for industrial environments. Our cyber security platform consolidates complex site-wide cyber threats and vulnerability data into a single view for better visibility and improved decision-making and extends users’ ability to stay ahead of cyber threats in ways not previously possible.

Does the introduction of automation technology reduce the size of workforces?

Automation does not necessarily equate to smaller workforces. It simply advocates smarter operations. Today, an employee can monitor and understand everything that is happening in an oilfield from their smartphone, tablet or computer. The tablet could be connected to a large screen in a control room from which specific instructions could be relayed. It may sound commonplace to the new generation, but historically this kind of interaction is very atypical to how things used to be done.
Many companies are moving in the direction of automation. It is a natural progression. There is already a lot technology out there in the field, and now we are in an era where a small layer of software can connect all that technology and drive even greater value from it through enhanced control and data analytic opportunities. Sometimes a business model may be disrupted a bit in order to evolve, but this is a global trend that companies are looking to follow.

Who are some of your biggest clients?

We’ve worked with almost all the key energy stakeholders in Kuwait in one way or another. Our work is project-based, which means we have worked alongside many different types of companies, including contractors, consultants, various partners and other suppliers, and interact with different authorities. Our involvement depends on what major projects we are working on, and that can shift depending on the timing. Some years we might have more investments in upstream and others in midstream or downstream.

How are you aiding the implementation of new technology in the market?

Every company we are dealing with has a demand for technical skills. Having a well-trained and prepared workforce goes a long way toward increasing operational efficiencies, as well and helping our customers achieve operational excellence.
To aid in this, in 2016 we opened the Honeywell Kuwait Automation College, an educational facility offering more than 300 courses focused on local power and water, oil and gas, and automation industries, educating Honeywell employees and customers – including chemical engineers, plant operators, maintenance technicians, process engineers and plant managers – on the key aspects of maintaining a safe, reliable and efficient plant.
It is the first and only automation college that has been established locally. Our automation college offers up-to-date programs with the goal of adding to the competency of operators and managers here. Systems are changing and we are educating operators on how to adapt to these changes.
Changes are not just happening with technology. There is also sustainability and the issue of attracting, developing and retaining a younger workforce. This new generation is already used to the technology. Our college can help bridge the gap that exist in their skillsets.
We believe that the training our automation college provides is very important, so much so that we also have one in Dubai, in Houston and in many other locations worldwide. Our automation college in Kuwait shows our commitment and closeness to a country we have worked in for more than 50 years. It also gives us a chance to share all the knowledge we have gathered over that time period.

Are courses at this college available to the general public or are they exclusive to Honeywell employees?
They are open to our customers’ employees, our staff and our partners. It is not an open university. This is because the programs we offer are very specific to our industry. Kuwait University and Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research both have courses that are more general in nature. We want to make sure that the people who are potentially going into this specific field have the expertise they need. The need has been so high for this that we are planning to add another automation college in Kuwait soon.

What are the other trends that you are seeing?

Interest in setting and tracking key performance indicators, or KPIs, in the oil and gas industry is growing. The focus is shifting from maintaining daily operations to making specific achievements. The best way to measure achievements, of course, are through performance indicators, and we are working closely with oil and gas operators to devise challenging yet achievable KPIs for their businesses.

Could you tell us about some recent milestones for Honeywell Kuwait?

Besides our work as the main automation contractor for the Al Zour refinery, one of the largest grassroots refinery projects in the Middle East, we have also began receiving local certification that is on par with the regulations of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Our business operates across many industries, but specific to oil and gas we are engaged in multiple projects such as the Clean Fuel Project in North Kuwait. Some of the projects are public, while others are not.

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