Paragon Applies Offshore-Style Solutions to Camisea Project

Paragon Engineering Services employed technologies usually applied on offshore projects to help meet challenges associated with the Camisea Upstream Facilities project in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. The project includes gas production facilities in the lower Urubamba Valley, processing facilities at Malvinas, and a fractionation plant and marine terminal at Pisco on the Pacific Coast. Signaling a major project accomplishment, the project's Malvinas facilities recently achieved first gas production from the San Martín four-wellhead cluster.

Paragon President Jim Gattis said Paragon is proud of this milestone, citing the company's provision of extensive services as "owner's engineer" for Pluspetrol Perú Corporation S.A. and its Camisea partners (Hunt Oil Company; SK Corporation and Hidrocarburos Andinos) since mid-2001. The project currently ranks among Paragon's largest onshore efforts since the company was founded in 1980.

"This is a world-class project that presented a number of major challenges our team has overcome to produce first gas," he said. "Paragon is pleased with the progress and appreciates the opportunity to be on the Pluspetrol team."

Eliseo Bouza, Pluspetrol's Camisea Operations Manager, noted Paragon's assistance in coordinating the efforts of the numerous companies involved in the project. "Working with Pluspetrol, its Camisea partners, and aiding in coordination with numerous contractors and vendors, Paragon has contributed significantly to the achievement of fast-track progress for this complex, multi-site development," Bouza said.

Hydrocarbons produced from the San Martín reservoir in the Amazon rainforest will be delivered to a liquid separation/natural gas liquids recovery/gas compression plant currently in the start-up phase at Malvinas. The Malvinas plant includes cryogenic facilities that will cool the gas to minus 73 degrees C, enabling recovery of essentially 100 percent of the propane and heavier liquids. These natural gas liquids (NGLs) will be transported 560 km via a new pipeline over the Andes Mountains to the Pisco Fractionation Plant, where they will be separated into liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) products and prepared for transport from the Pisco marine terminal on Perú's Pacific Coast. The remaining gas at Malvinas will either be injected back into the reservoir or sold and transported 715 km via a separate new pipeline over the Andes to supply the energy needs of the city of Lima.

Paragon's scope has included assisting in development of a total execution strategy, reviewing and confirming Pluspetrol's initial designs, developing basic designs for the NGL recovery and fractionation plants as well as the marine terminal, providing design and construction management services for the flowlines between the development wells and Malvinas, preparing bid packages for multiple EPC contractors, and assisting in the selection of equipment providers and in-country construction contractors. Paragon is also participating in the commissioning of both the Malvinas and Pisco plants and has prepared start-up procedures for both facilities.

Because of the remote nature of the wellhead clusters and 25 km of flowlines, Paragon Project Director Skip Mick likened the project to an "onshore subsea development." "Camisea, while an onshore project, has the same primary components as a subsea development," he said. "Like a subsea development, for example, Camisea has presented flow assurance challenges due to the hilly terrain between the wellsites and the central facility. We're dealing with remote wells, flowlines leading to a central location, and a very specific weather window."

The weather window corresponds to the annual rainy season – lasting from December 15 to March 15. Shipping was possible only during this three-month period when the Urubamba River was deep enough to support barge transportation. Most of the equipment was delivered to the wellsites and the Malvinas plant via barge, initially in ocean freighters up the Amazon River, and then on smaller barges up the Urubamba.

The project also required several hundred helicopter flights to move the drilling rig from one well location to another.

"This project represents a logistical phenomenon," Mick said. "Imagine if you will, staring into a field in the middle of a jungle with nothing in it. Now, three years later, there's a large, sophisticated gas plant that will soon be fully operational. That represents significant logistical planning and teamwork."

Mick noted that the project team also provided innovative design solutions, particularly for the Pisco marine terminal.

"The typical industry option is to load LPG using a marine berth and trestle system, but people in the area didn't want a 3 km trestle in Paracas Bay. So we worked to find a solution," Mick said.

"Pipe-in-pipe technology normally is used in deepwater applications in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore West Africa to keep production fluids warm," Mick explained. "In Perú, we're working with LPGs, like propane, which must be loaded at minus 45 degrees C. So the insulated pipe-in-pipe technology keeps the gas cold in this application. The thermodynamic issues are the same."

Summing up Paragon's Camisea work to date, Mick is quick to point out that project efforts show no signs of slowing down.

"The first-gas milestone represents three-plus years of engineering support, logistical planning, and just plain hard work. The project team's attention now is focused on bringing the Malvinas Gas Plant to full NGL recovery, completing the Pisco Fractionation Plant to receive the hydrocarbon liquids, and bringing all components to full operation," Mick said.