Origin Energy manages one of the largest gas supply networks in Australia, and controls and monitors thousands of gas assets as part of Australia Pacific LNG’s coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas project in Queensland. Here we take a look behind the scenes at the technology and operations used in the utility’s Brisbane Central Control Room (BCCR).
In a large, circular room, within Origin Energy’s Brisbane office, a team of operators sit amidst the glow of computer screens as they monitor dozens of panels displaying data from various sites and infrastructure across a vast integrated gas network.
This is the Brisbane Central Control Room – or BCCR – a 24/7 operation that monitors, optimises and operates the thousands of gas assets, including pipelines, processing plants, pipeline compression facilities and wells, to maintain production in a reliable and efficient way. The assets are part of Australia Pacific LNG’s coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas project in Queensland, of which Origin Energy is the upstream operator.
Collaboration for smooth operation
BCCR Manager Nadia Vujovich said, “A collaborative team with a variety of skills is key to the BCCR’s smooth operation. “Within our team, we’ve got asset panel operators who run, optimise, and monitor our various assets around-the-clock. “We also have automation and optimisation engineers who are responsible for making sure our assets and systems are always available and safe.
“There’s even a lead engineer for automation and digital integration who sets standards and develops technologies to make sure the business network is using the best digital tools. “These are just some of the various roles and responsibilities within the BCCR, and when combined, we can ensure a safe, reliable, and efficient operation of our integrated gas fields and facilities from a centralised location.” The BCCR divides assets into five panels, with panel operators focusing on their specific asset panel during their 12-hour shift.
In one corner of the room, an operator might be running the Condabri Panel, which would entail monitoring, controlling and optimising all assets in the Condabri Field. This consists of 565 operational wells, three gas processing plants, six compression trains, three high voltage substations, and 80 high voltage kiosks.
Nearby, another operator manages the Pipeline Panel and spends their shift looking after more than 980km of highpressure transmission pipeline across four interconnected gas networks as well as pipeline compression facilities and gas processing facility metering skids.
“We manage about 3 million data ‘tags’, each of which represents a piece of data that is associated with an asset and contributes to the overall ability to operate our equipment remotely and safely. These assets can be as big as a compressor to a small piece of equipment like a temperature or pressure transmitter,” Ms Vujovich said.
“Additionally, there are about 250,000 alarms across the network with varying levels of criticality that may need to be responded to during a shift. “At times, our capabilities can be stretched by the sheer volume of assets that we manage, but we pride ourselves on our ability to operate in a safe, calm and reliable manner.
“This requires a high level of competence and ongoing training to keep our team members upskilled and ready to respond to a range of scenarios.” Despite the potential for high stress in the BCCR, there is a calm and quiet atmosphere, with only whispered conversations among operators, keyboard typing, and telephone or radio transmissions between operators in the office and various stakeholders or workers on site breaking the silence.
“During the shifts, our team communicates extensively with various site-based personnel,” Ms Vujovich said. “We monitor production against our nominations for the day and maintain regular communication with other teams such as gas trading. “We require team members to have a high level of focus and attention to detail, including participation in 12-hour overnight shifts.
This makes managing fatigue risks and ensuring the wellbeing of staff, a crucial part of my role. “It is an ongoing process to continually improve our understanding and management of fatigue, so we can keep our people safe and well. “I really enjoy working in the BCCR and the daily challenges and opportunities that come with a 24/7 operational room. “It is also a privilege to lead such a diverse team that comes from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, united by a singular purpose – to operate our assets at a world-class level.