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LIMS enables the world’s largest integrated oil and gas project

07th November 2013

Managing safety, consistency, regulatory compliance, efficiency and profitability, often in some of the world’s harshest conditions, is a constant challenge. But this level of complexity can be reduced through better data management that guarantees unprecedented levels of operational performance

LIMS enables the world’s largest integrated oil and gas project
LNG plant. Image courtesy of Sakhalin Energy

There is no better example of managing complexity with data than Sakhalin II, the world’s largest integrated oil and gas project. Located in the harsh subarctic environment of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk, Sakhalin II is Russia’s largest foreign investment project at USD 10bn, its first offshore development project and its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.


Sakhalin II’s fields contain reserves of approximately 1 billion barrels of oil and 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The oil reserves equate to more than one year of total crude oil exports from Russia and the gas reserves represent nearly five years of Russian gas exports to Europe or enough to supply current global LNG demand for four years. To export the gas, the company is building Russia’s first-ever LNG plant, which converts the gas to a liquid by cooling it to a temperature of minus 161 degrees Celsius (minus 258 Fahrenheit) so that it can be transported by ship.



The Sakhalin LNG plant will be the world’s second in a cold climate. The gas will be transported from the gas field platform by pipelines to an onshore production facility (OPF) and then to Prigorodnoye in the south of Sakhalin Island, the site of the LNG plant and oil and LNG export terminals.


Sakhalin is located close to emerging economies in Asia and will guarantee uninterrupted supply of LNG to Asian markets year-round. Japan, South Korea and the US have already bought all the gas to be produced at Sakhalin for the next 20 years.


Handling High Testing Throughput


The Sakhalin II project is a marvel of engineering, but its sheer size and throughput pose unique challenges for laboratory personnel. The laboratories on Sakhalin Island manage complex testing workflows for oil and gas quality, process monitoring at LNG plants and environmental and health and safety monitoring. This is the nerve centre for strategically assessing, monitoring and reporting on product quality, facility safety and compliance.   


To manage its complex sampling and testing requirements, which include critical integration with upstream satellite labs, Sakhalin Energy invested in a laboratory information management system (LIMS). This enables the company to manage data from a constant flow of samples that includes oil, gas, chemicals and wastewater. Sunil Pandya, who heads Sakhalin Energy’s laboratory, explains that his laboratory “has well-defined procedures for essential quality control work, from scheduling samples to managing resources and reporting on samples.” To manage this workload and integrate with a variety of analytical instruments, Pandya’s team implemented Thermo Scientific SampleManager LIMS in its main laboratory and within its upstream satellite laboratories.


The Laboratory as Information Hub


Sakhalin II’s laboratory is an information hub, generating valuable analytical reference data for product quality and custody transfer invoicing, calibration of on-line process analysers, plant performance, equipment condition and environmental monitoring. It also provides expert advice on LNG and crude oil sales purchase agreements (SPAs), plant troubleshooting and ad-hoc laboratory services to other Sakhalin Energy assets (OPF, pipelines, offshore platforms).


The data generated by the laboratory has strategic value across the organisation. Among the internal stakeholders who rely on the analytical reference are:

        Operations, for plant performance monitoring and product export;


Engineering, for equipment-condition monitoring;


Technology personnel, for efficiency checks and troubleshooting;


Environmental services, for environmental monitoring and compliance;


Marketing, for customer liaison support;


Finance, for invoicing.


Any data required by these business stakeholders is available on-demand from the LIMS, thanks to sophisticated automatic data transfer. The LIMS interfaces seamlessly with critical IT systems including Sakhalin Energy’s corporate Energy Components (ER) package and process information (PI) system for efficient reporting and documentation support.


Finally, the LIMS enables Sakhalin Energy to document compliance with ISO 17025, the international standard for analytical laboratories.


Ensuring Efficiency with LIMS


The Sakhalin II laboratory is designed for maximum efficiency, from extraction to issuing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and certificates of quality. Laboratory sample data is centrally tracked and managed from within the LIMS, enabling the laboratory to operate according to GLP/OECD guidelines and demonstrate procedural conformity.


Sakhalin Energy staff enterprise-wide rely on the LIMS 24/7, providing access to critical data collected from the thousands of samples taken from across Sakhalin Island. Data from the facility’s state-of-the-art equipment, including gas chromatographs, is directly transferred into the LIMS where it is used for data trending and analysis and to identify if or when product is moving out of specification.


The benefits of LIMS for Sakhalin Energy are significant – improved sample turnaround times, centralised access to data and improved operational efficiencies. The systemalso meets the laboratory’s need for GLP and ISO 17025 compliance while supporting its requirements for both standard and non-routine sampling, providing audit trails to track deviations and amendments to each study.


“Our laboratories have been designed from the ground up to support this site,” says Pandya. “This project represents the new frontier in oil and gas development, and our laboratory needed a LIMS that was proven to be reliable in this environment and dependable for the future of the project.”




Better data management reduces complexity and provides executives with insights that can deliver unprecedented levels of operational performance. For Sakhalin Energy and its ultra-modern laboratory, SampleManager LIMS is the backbone that enables world-class data management. Its laboratories are equipped with the instruments, software and systems that allow it to deliver consistent and reliable insights across the enterprise, from exploration to production and shipping of finished product. 


This article was written by Colin Thurston, director of Process Industries Product Strategy, Thermo Fisher Scientific.