SMEC Oil & Gas

Ballast Control Systems

Floaters are platforms where the rigs are set-up for deep water drilling operations. They are normally made up of a square platform with a column reaching into the water at each corner, which connects to massive underwater pontoons that run perpendicular to the columns. Each column has a ballast tank, which carries water that is used to adjust and maintain the buoyancy of the rig. Ballast tanks, which may carry either air or water, are also included on the pontoons to help balance the rig.

The ballast control system consists of a network of pipelines, valves, pumps, and tanks that function as a liquid control system to keep the vessel stable. They control the volume of the liquid present in the ballast according to conditions necessary for the stability with the aid of pumps and motors. Air is also used for similar functions. The valves and pumps are actuated through drives (SCRs and VFDs).

The vessel’s existing mechanics have been retained and the electrical controls were modified into an advanced PLC based architecture replacing the conventional relay based system and solenoids with new and advanced items. The electrical control system incorporates necessary indications and alarms for the safe operation of the system. All the push buttons have been designed and integrated into the HMI provided from where the system can be initiated for operation. The software residing in the PLC caters for the logical operations and controls the system by monitoring the inputs from various field elements and sensors. This is the heart of the system wherein various inputs are computed and a desired and accurate output is generated which is monitored on the screen provided.