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Comment: Sustainable profitability

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on Jan 10, 2017

Colin Chapman
Colin Chapman
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In today’s difficult business environment for the oil and gas sector, it is more and more important for companies to obtain maximum benefit from their existing assets. Implementing an advanced asset manage-ment programme will allow companies to achieve sustainable profitability.

With ageing assets, fluctuating feedstock and product prices, stricter HSE requirements and more stringent product specifications, companies are facing many challenges to achieve consistent operating margins. A comprehensive asset integrity management system is critical to increase plant performance and margins, reduce operational costs and mitigate related risks.

A key focus required to safeguard effective operations is the extension of ageing assets’ lifecycle. This must be done in a safe and sustainable manner so as to avoid increased maintenance costs and increased risks of incidents etc.

Optimising existing assets by using modern systems and techniques and state-of-the-art instrumentation and control systems is an ongoing activity for many companies. The extent of required modernisation of course depends upon the original design of the facility.

The overall performance of the facility will depend upon the effectiveness and sustainability of the operations. Before embarking on an asset management programme, it is important to understand the present status of the facility and identify all areas requiring improvement, for example, specific maintenance concerns to critical equipment. This is usually done by carrying out an in-depth audit. It will be important to analyse the operating logs, inspection reports and equipment data etc.

Some results of a case study analysis were presented at a conference organised by Euro Petroleum Consultants in Russia on Operational Excellence in November 2016. By summarising them all, we can state that all major oil and gas companies (in Russia, CIS countries as well as worldwide) are implementing OE strategies and are looking for modern and sophisticated ways and solutions to improve asset management of their plants and facilities using the best practices from leading technology and consulting companies.

Companies should carry out a diagnosis of the present situation and then prepare an action plan and strategy to improve the performance of the asset.

Some critical areas include optimisation of turnarounds to reduce downtime, reduce maintenance costs by effective inspection, and improved monitoring systems to mitigate risks and unscheduled maintenance.

We are living in a digital age; hence, it is now possible for companies to benefit from better asset management systems, which enable the efficient management of data relating to the 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.

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

Asset management systems should enable companies to manage their assets and systems 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.

An ‘asset-conscious’ approach is an essential strategy to maintain sustainability and has already brought about significant changes to the oil and gas business and soon will completely transform and reshape both client and contractor markets.

By Colin Chapman, president, and Ekaterina Kalinenko, project manager, Euro Petroleum Consultants (EPC). EPC is a technical oil and gas consultancy with offices in Dubai, London, Moscow, Sofia and Kuala Lumpur. EPC also organises conferences, including ME-TECH 2017 – Middle East Technology Forum for Refining & Petrochemicals, which will be held in Dubai during 21-23 February 2017.


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