Valve management system reduces tank storage provider’s risk

A valve management system has significantly reduced the operational and financial risk exposure for a major tank storage provider.

Valve operation specialist Sofis installed the solution to reduce the risk of incorrect valve line-up at Oiltanking Malta.

“Everyone in the oil and gas industry is aware of the risk of incorrect valve line-ups,” commented David Muscat, assistant technical manager at Oiltanking Malta, in a statement.

“I really appreciate the help of the whole Sofis team in finding us a good solution to accommodate our needs and getting this project ready on time.”


A major risk

Miscommunication or accidental operation of the wrong valve or valves during tank storage operations can lead to substantial risk exposure for the terminal operator. Oiltanking Malta identified the potential risk and cost associated with incorrect valve line-ups in its operation, and set out to find a customised solution.

Valve interlocks and a key management system from Sofis were combined with Oiltanking Malta’s existing distributed control system. This mitigated the risk of incorrect valve line-ups 'to the maximum possible extent'. An additional benefit of the new system is that operators can now perform multiple valve line-up procedures simultaneously.

According to a statement from Sofis, the new system also means that valve changeovers are carried out more efficiently.


How the valve management system works

  • Tankers are loaded from a specific set of storage tanks. The pipework between these tanks and the tanker needs to be opened, and the remaining pipework closed off.
  • The DCS tells the KMS which tanks are to be used, and the KMS then releases the keys that operate the manual valves required for the loading procedure.
  • When the keys are used to operate the valves, each valve releases a second key and all second keys are returned to the KMS.
  • Finally, the KMS signals to the DCS that all valves are now in the correct position, and the DCS ensures that loading begins automatically.

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