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WHCP, oil & gas

It is very common in the oil & gas plant to control its oil or gas well through a wellhead control panel
(usually called WHCP). Each well is always equipped with a SCSSV (Surface Controlled Sub-surface
Safety Valves) or usually it is called as down hole valve (DHV) and a SSV (Surface Safety Valves)
which is consist of a Master Valves (MV) and Wing Valves (WV). SCSSV in most application is an on-off
valve with hydraulic actuators. While SSV can be driven by hydraulic actuator or pneumatic actuator
depends on the pressure rating. It is also a need to open or close SCSSV and SSV in sequence and
accommodate an Emergency Shutdown signal from the systems. So what are WHCP and its essential
component? This article tries to explain the WHCP systems in general application and how it works.
See the general overview of WHCP systems at the end of this article as a general guidance. WHCP
systems usually consist of hydraulic reservoir, strainer, hydraulic pumps, accumulator, wellhead
control module, and hydraulic line which are supply and return to wellhead control module. Any other
parts except wellhead control module are classified into basic cabinet. Each control module is built up
dedicated for one well only. Therefore if there are 5 well in a wellhead platform, then there will be 1
basic cabinet and 5 wellhead control module needed.
First part of WHCP is a hydraulic reservoir. This reservoir contains hydraulic fluid in sufficient quantity
to operate each wellhead. The size of reservoir is determine through an estimation of hydraulic fluid
needed to operate each actuator, possible leakage, distance from the well, and an additional safety
factor. Usually the hydraulic reservoir is an atmospheric tank with a flame arrestor venting.
To build up a hydraulic header (high or medium pressure) the WHCP utilize a hydraulic pump. In
general the SCSSV will operate at high pressure rating and SSV will operate at medium pressure
rating. Thus there will be two hydraulic headers at WHCP with its own hydraulic pump. The hydraulic
pump can be pneumatic driven or electric driven depends on criticality and operation area. All
hydraulic pump suction will have a strainer to filter the hydraulic fluid from any particulate so that the
hydraulic fluid goes to SCSSV or SSV is clean. To make the hydraulic demand from SCSSV or SSV
achievable, the downstream of the hydraulic pump (hydraulic header) is equipped with an
accumulator. It helps the hydraulic pump to supply quickly the hydraulic demand. This arrangement
(reservoir, hydraulic pumps, and accumulator) usually is called as a hydraulic power pack or a
hydraulic power unit.
After the hydraulic fluid accumulated at the hydraulic header (both high pressure and medium
pressure) then its ready to supply each wellhead control module. Usually the line from hydraulic
header to wellhead control module is called a hydraulic supply lines. At this wellhead control module,
the sequence and logic to operate the SCSSV and SSV is built up. The ESD signal mainly also goes to
this module. When it needs to open the SCSSV and SSV, it supplies the high pressure or medium
pressure hydraulic fluid to the SCSSV and SSV. In case there is a need to close it down, the hydraulic
fluid supply will close and the hydraulic fluid will goes to a hydraulic return line through a three way
valves selector. This hydraulic return line will goes to the hydraulic reservoir again.

From this general explanation we can conclude that the wellhead control panel (WHCP) is a hydraulic
system that utilizes a hydraulic power pack and a wellhead control module to perform its task. The
output of WHCP is high pressure hydraulic supply and medium hydraulic supply to operate SCSSV and
SSV. Wellhead control panel is also the interface between the plant control and safety system with the
SCSSV and SSV systems.