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Comment: Strategy for success

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on Dec 14, 2016

Colin Chapman, President, Euro Petroleum Consultants.
Colin Chapman, President, Euro Petroleum Consultants.
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In many regions operating margins have plummeted due to ageing assets and sour crudes. This, coupled with dwindling demand for refined products, have resulted in difficult conditions for the downstream industry. Higher utilisation rates of operating equipment that has been performing under capacity for some time in many cases could lead to larger volume of emissions and safety hazards and also more frequent shutdowns and larger fines for operators.

Refiners now recognise that there needs to be a strong focus on integrity and integration in order to improve the on-stream time and performance levels of their plants. This is particularly true for medium size and large scale complexes. Such systems and programmes require large amount of data to be processed and analysed. Thus new state of the art control and IT systems need to be installed or upgraded at the facilities.

Leading international oil and gas companies have a strong focus on safety and reliability setting annual objectives and targets for environmental, operational and maintenance requirements. Many Asset Management [AM] service suppliers are offering their technology and services to operators to improve the online performance and reliability of the different process units demonstrating the direct economic benefits due to improved optimisation solutions and better maintenance systems and procedures. If maintenance is being provided effectively in line with corporate strategy, value is created at all organisation levels and supply chain elements.

By extending the life of critical assets, inventory costs could be lowered in a rational manner, resulting in significant savings. These factors can create synergy with increased margins and provide a pathway to continued success.

AM services should also enable companies to manage their assets in a sustainable way to optimise performance and expenditure with minimal risk over the full lifecycle of the facility and maximise return on their asset-based investment.

For operating plants the process should start with identification of opportunities for improvement and benchmark assessment that shows the gap between current applied practices and best-in-class plants and the cost of shutdowns for new assets.

The basis for efficient AM systems should be included in the design of the facilities for processes, control systems and maintenance management programmes to ensure efficient start-up of the plant and reliable operations.

Clear and comprehensive maintenance strategy from a cost and profit perspective; established work identification, control and execution programme; and continuous improvement execution plan to maintain and optimise the maintenance strategy are essential for achieving safe and efficient plant operations.

Thanks to digital advancements it is now possible for companies to benefit from better asset management systems which enable the efficient management of data relating to process operations, equipment performance, planning and scheduling tools to be able to meet the changing market requirements in a timely manner.

Asset management practices such as predictive monitoring and maintenance contribute to less unplanned plant outages caused by asset failure. Best-in-class companies plan outages for maintenance activities based on price and seasonality.

To sum up, improved Operational Excellence via better AM strategy brings a variety of benefits including reduction of losses related to downtime and asset optimisation, enhanced efficiency of maintenance leading to shorter downtimes, production and workforce utilisation, reduced costs of materials for maintenance and operations, and increased capital efficiency. Many of these topics will be addressed at the upcoming Operational Excellence conference to be held in Abu Dhabi on 6th and 7th December, 2016.


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