Ship to shore – safely pumping 200,000 barrels of oil a day

ConocoPhillips UK
Monitoring tanker transfer at crude oil terminal
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Since the discovery of the Viking gas field in 1968, ConocoPhillips’ UK portfolio has grown to include a number of oil and gas fields in the Central and Southern North Sea. The company owns and operates gas and oil terminals around the UK and in 2011 produced 132,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.


Operating since the late 1960’s, ConocoPhillips Humber Refinery at Immingham, North Lincolnshire is the UK’s only processing facility for premium petroleum coke, of which 700,000 tonnes are produced each year at the site. The petroleum coke is then used by the steel industry for smelting. 70% of the refined oil produced at the site is for UK use, the remainder is exported to mainland Europe.

The crude oil arrives by tanker at the nearby Tetney Oil Terminal in the Humber Estuary. The crude oil is stored at the Tetney oil terminal, before being pumped underground to the refinery. Recently transferred to Philips66, the oil terminal needs to supply 221,000 barrels of crude oil for processing every day. To facilitate the transfer of crude oil from large tanker vessels, the terminal employs a system with a monobuoy.

The monobuoy is a large floating platform anchored offshore in deep water and equipped with pipelines leading to the storage tanks onshore. This enables the ships to discharge the heavy crude oil load in a shorter time than would be the case when using traditional on-shore berthing. Central to the operation of the monobuoy system is telemetry for monitoring and supervision, which takes into account wind and wave action on the buoy to ensure safe connection and transfer of the crude oil.

The original system supplied in the 1980’s was outmoded and required updating. The original system worked over 458.6125 MHz in the de-licensed MPT 1329 band, which was to continue, but the replacement system would require specialist installation and new software design.


ConocoPhillips turned to wireless specialist Wood and Douglas which deployed its PACSNET 3000 radio telemetry system. Wood & Douglas Installed a PACSNET 3000 UHF master station on the monobuoy, along with new wind speed sensors and a water pressure sensor for wave height determination. On the Tetney Terminal, a PACSNET 3000 UHF slave station receives the monobuoy telemetry as well as sending data from additional wind speed and direction sensors installed in the terminal.

The sensors operate as part of a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system for ranged industrial physical monitoring and control. The In-Touch SCADA system Wood & Douglas installed is PC based with a monitoring and alert station located in the terminal central control room. This displays data and calculations based on wind speed, direction and wave height to ensure conditions are safe for tankers to berth and commence unloading. If weather conditions are poor the system provides remote control of the lights and foghorn installed on the monobuoy to help vessels safely navigate.

The monitoring data and calculations are also made available via a portable terminal based on a PACSNET 3000 slave station with a helical antenna and a Datapanel 240T display which can be installed on a tanker’s bridge. This gives both terminal operators and ship’s crew the ability to monitor the monobuoy’s situation in real-time, from ship and shore, and when necessary initiate safety features. This ensures safe working conditions and minimises the danger of an oil spill and any impact of the terminal operations on the environment.

  • Maritime SCADA monitoring and control
  • Ensures efficient, controlled and safe operations in a potentially dangerous environment


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