Winning Projects of 2014
Sapna Gupta

The PMI India Best Project of the Year awards, presented at the PMI India National Conference in September 2014, shone the spotlight on project management excellence in projects of different size, complexity, and nature. In this issue, Manage India features two award-winning projects of 2014 that demonstrate how project success needs a fair share of human enterprise and the can-do spirit, along with modern technology and processes.

Larsen & Toubro Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited, a subsidiary of Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T), won the award in the large project category for the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation's (GSPC) process cum living quarter platform (PLQP). L&T successfully installed the PLQP on the offshore block of the Yanam Kakinada coast in Andhra Pradesh.

The platform is the first gas production and process platform on the east coast and is claimed to be one of its kind for its high pressure and high temperature conditions. PLQP has major process facilities like separation, gas dehydration with a handling capacity of 200 million standard cubic feet per day, and water conditioning capacity of 3750 barrels of water per day, along with a fully equipped living quarter and two turbine generators.

The biggest challenge in this project was a stringent schedule of 23 months from engineering to commissioning, as against the required 30 months for a project of this magnitude. The schedule of commissioning activities depended upon the availability of hydrocarbon gas by GSPC.

The design and engineering scope included building of a complex process platform within six months which included fabrication of major modules like:

  • Process decks
  • Living quarter and gas turbine
  • Four-legged jacket structures, tripod and bridges

Six weeks were set aside for the installation of heavy modules, with the heaviest lift being that of 4,000 metric tons.

Additional challenges faced:
  • Changes made to the engineering specification where the compressive strength of hydrocarbon gas was increased four-fold
  • Increase in the height and diameter of the exhaust duct of the waste heat recovery unit
  • Accommodating a mega process platform on a fourlegged structure, known as a jacket, for operational requirement
  • Changes in process requirements with additional equipment, piping, and deck extensions, and additional testing, following request for a more robust design of the process platform
  • Communication challenges because of multiple teams working at different locations

Multiple L&T engineering centers, as listed in the table below, worked simultaneously to complete the engineering feat within the tight schedule.

The L&T procurement group handled bulk procurements on fast track mode with the help of resources across the globe to expedite delivery. The fabrication work was distributed across multiple L&T locations, and pre-fabrication and assembly work were conducted parallely to speed up processes.

L&T proactively organized a three-day workshop on the feasibility of simultaneous operation (SIMOPS). This integrated project management technique gave way to not only a safe, quick, and cost-effective method of concurrent installation and drilling activities, but SIMOPS turned out to be a major lesson learned during the project with the pre-installation activities wrapping up at a record time of six weeks.

The engineering activities of the project were completed within 22 months as against the scheduled 23 months, thus placing the team one month ahead of schedule. The hook-up of the platform to the jackets was also completed within the construction phase.

L&T used several tools and techniques to overcome project challenges. The team used tools like Microsoft Office SharePoint Server for storage, correspondences, and maintenance of project documents and data. L&T ensured smooth incorporation of multiple schedules through integrated planning tools, with least human interference. Daily, weekly, and monthly planning reports were uploaded at multiple locations but compiled at the Mumbai head office. In cases where additional work was executed based on verbal agreements, it was documented along with client's acknowledgement.

The material management and finance & controlling modules of SAP, an enterprise resource planning software, were extensively used for better project control and management. The project management practices followed by L&T were completely aligned with PMI's A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The team maintained Oracle Primavera schedules, progress monitoring, catch up schedules, risk reviews, and mitigation plans.

Mr. Tapan Ray, managing director, GSPC, says, "GSPC has ventured into this high risk business of oil and gas exploration, development, and production, and we have found a strong and able business associate like L&T to achieve our goals."

Mr. D. K. Gupta, executive vice president (operations), domestic oil & gas sector projects, L&T, sums up, "For close to two decades, we have been executing mega projects in the upstream oil and gas sector in India and abroad. We have been successful in developing a strong project management team, ably supported by in-house engineering, procurement and fabrication facilities."

Indian Oil Corporation's butadiene extraction unit in Panipat, Haryana, is a landmark project that marks the company's venture into the production of synthetic, commercial rubber. Butadiene, a value-added industrial chemical primarily used in the production of synthetic rubber, was available in IOCL's existing Naphtha gas cracker unit in Panipat that provided the feed for production.

Below are some of the challenges the project faced:

  • Frequent changes in scope with new requirements being called for additional pumps, piping systems, and equipment, with a minimum delivery period of 10-12 months.
  • With no experience in either the construction or operation of a butadiene plant in the past, Indian Oil Corporation struggled with the design and construction of pipes.
  • It had to ensure that no pockets were formed that would lead to butadiene leakage, which could pose serious health risks and production loss.
  • After close to two years into the project, a decision was made to facilitate direct merchant sale of butadiene, leading to ambiguities on intermediate storage arrangements and its transfer to the Synthetic Butadiene Rubber (SBR) plant in Panipat.
  • Multiple contractors, suppliers, and stakeholders with multi-lingual teams based in different locations and time zones, with different work cultures added to the complexities.

Engineers India Ltd. (EIL), a leading design and engineering organization in South Asia with decades of experience in the oil & gas sector, was the engineering, procurement, and construction management consultant for this project.

The IOCL project management office inducted experienced engineers to exclusively handle the butadiene plant project.

Identification of critical milestones, estimates from feasibility studies, time-bound closures, maximum use of existing facilities, and reusable assets were a few approaches IOCL adopted for effective change management. The teams made extensive use of project management tools like Oracle Primavera to schedule, monitor, and control the project.

The teams worked in close co-ordination, back calculated the completion time of activities, put in additional resources when required and prepared catch up plans. They conducted brainstorming sessions, audits, shop floor visits, and monthly, weekly, and daily review meetings with site and construction contractors, suppliers, and vendors to monitor and control progress.

Butadiene experts helped train existing IOCL engineers and carried out hazard and safety operations by installing a special chemical cleaning procedure and an innovative technique to ensure leak proof operations.

Instead of purchasing all the required equipment, the team camped at the project site for 20 days and re-engineered processes. One such innovation is to use existing transfer pumps to operate in dual mode – one for storage and transfer to SBR plant, and the other for storage and transfer to the loading gantry for direct merchant sale of butadiene.

The project was completed with no rework, or cost and time overruns, and adhered to quality assurances plans and standards, leading to an accident-free 20 lakh human hours.

IOCL's adoption of innovative construction techniques, mature project management processes, and the integration and synchronization of inter and intra personnel tasks led to the success of the project.

Mr. Narinder Kumar, executive director (project), IOCL, states, "The butadiene extraction unit project has set high standards in project management. It is a matter of honor for us that the project has won PMI India Best Project of the Year award under the medium sized projects category. Congratulations to the entire project team for the spectacular performance."

National Conference 2014 Awards