Taking the Lead in Uncharted Waters

  • Source: Article
  • Article Date: 17/10/2017


The sheer size of the first PETRONAS Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessel, PFLNG SATU, is enough to intimidate any project planning personnel. First of its kind in the world measuring at 365 metres long — vertically, it reaches the 75th floor of the PETRONAS Twin Towers.

A blueprint for innovation and technology at its best, PFLNG SATU serves to develop gas fields in shallow waters off Kanowit, Sarawak, extracting 1.2 million tonnes per annum of LNG.

Since setting sail from South Korea on 14 May 2016, this megastructure has changed the landscape of LNG production as the process can now be done on a vessel afloat in the ocean and closer to the gas fields offshore. In short, it is an engineering marvel and a national pride.

Yet, Raymond Raj Sukumaran from the Upstream Information Management and Information Technology’s (IM & IT) Planning and Contract Management team did not hesitate when he was tasked with being the Overall Programme Manager to handle ICT initiatives for PFLNG SATU, although, he was only ‘seven months old’ with the organisation then.​

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ICT Implementation Programme Manager for PFLNG SATU, Raymond Raj.

He led a team of more than 30 members from various PETRONAS operating units to ensure that the ICT Implementation for PFLNG SATU was successful and ready in time for the vessel to set sail.

Raymond said, “It seemed like a daunting task but at the same time I was honoured to be trusted with this high profile project, so I took up the position to challenge myself.” He welcomed the challenge and opportunity to be in an accelerated learning environment.

A task force from Upstream IM & IT spearheaded the project’s ICT Implementation Roadmap, which was developed together with the PFLNG SATU team in October 2014. It was responsible for ensuring a holistic ICT implementation that complies with PETRONAS' ICT standards and guidelines.

The enormity and complexity of the ICT Implementation for PFLNG SATU project set a benchmark for future endeavours, so it came as no surprise when the team emerged as a winner at the recent Group ICT Excellence Awards.

The Challenges

Building the megastructure — with nothing to benchmark against — had tested the limits of PETRONAS and its partners’ engineering capabilities. The vessel consists of 22 modules including gas treating, liquefaction, storage and offloading systems that are placed within and on top of its immense 300-metre long hull.

The first two months were tough for Raymond and his team - constant deadlines meant long hours and sleepless nights as the ICT systems and infrastructure had to be ready in time for the site office occupation at Miri, the supply base in Bintulu and of course, the vessel itself for the launch.

In addition, prior to setting sail from Okpo, South Korea, Raymond and his team had to go on-board PFLNG SATU in December 2015 to complete the final leg of the ICT infrastructure and network readiness on-board the vessel at Daewoo’s shipyard.

Troubleshooting ICT issues has been part of the adventure from the start, even before the vessel reached Malaysia from South Korea. One of the most stressful moments for the team was when the onshore team lost communication with the vessel while it was making its way to Malaysia.

The team on-board the vessel called Raymond in the middle of the night to report a problem via the Inmarsat satellite phone that was meant only for emergencies and last-resort communication.

Raymond immediately called the Telecommunications team onshore, which comprised the central team in Kuala Lumpur and the SK Gas IT operations team in Bintulu, to investigate and rectify the issue.

The problem was with the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) telecommunication antenna, which needed to point at the designation satellite at all times to maintain communication. Instead, the gyroscope connecting to the VSAT telecommunication antenna on-board, did not follow the vessel’s motion when the latter moved as it remained in its original navigational course. 

Successful Delivery on Time

PFLNG SATU arrived safely at Kanowit field on 30 May 2016, two weeks after setting sail from South Korea.

By June 2016, all 17 ICT initiatives were on track and all ICT systems were ready to support PFLNG SATU’s first milestone as the vessel took its first intake of natural gas in November 2016.

The team's perseverance, dedication and commitment to facing challenges contributed to PFLNG SATU's success. The team remained focused in their delivery and was resilient in overcoming hurdles.

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The ICT Implementation Team for PFLNG SATU.

Throughout the project, the team received guidance from Upstream Business Chief Information Officer (BCIO) Peter Chia and Head of Floating LNG Mohammad Feisal Azhar. They also received solid backing from the Project Steering Committee, chaired by the then Head of Business IM & IT Azlishah Azizan  from February 2015 to April 2016, and by Upstream IM & IT’s Head of Telecommunications and IT Infrastructure Suppiah Narayanasamy from April 2016 to present.
Overall, the team believed in delivering value to the mega project through continuous improvement while staying positive and energised.

The Future

“I am very proud to be part of this novel creation, to see how the robust, innovative and cost-effective ICT solutions that we implemented for the facility play a critical role to ensure operational efficiency and to maximise return on investment,” said Raymond.

Asked if he would do it again, he beamed, “Most definitely!”

Owing to his experience in the ICT Implementation for PFLNG SATU, Raymond has been entrusted to work on the ICT Roadmap and planning proposal for PFLNG DUA, the larger sister vessel, which is under construction at Samsung’s shipyard in South Korea.​