In our two recent blogs we have introduced the Technology Catalogue and the Technology Stress Test. In this blog we’ll focus on one example of how technologies already proven by one or more oil and gas operators can have an almost immediate impact on other operators.
When an oil/gas or petrochemical facility is in its operating phase it will require periodic maintenance activities throughout its lifetime. One of the most impactful recurring activities are the planned shutdowns (‘turnarounds’) that are typically conducted at intervals varying from 1-6 years. For many years these intervals have hardly changed across the industry and improvements have usually been marginal at sub-scope level. However, in recent years, driven by the low oil prices, breakthroughs have been reached in terms of interval, duration, cost and HSE exposure to workers.
Interval extensions from e.g. 2 to 4 years have been seen in the portfolio of some major International Oil Companies with a duration reduction of 10%-100%, i.e. in the most extreme case a complete planned turnaround could be skipped! The founders of Deployment Matters have played a key role to deliver this change through focused deployment of proven technologies in a major oil and gas company.
Questions that we often hear: How can this be replicated? What were the key technologies contributing to the success? How was the risk of interval extension managed?
Let’s go through the 2 key steps of the process.
1. Plan for Success
Together with the turnaround team, review the turnaround scope, starting preferably at least 18 months prior to the planned event to leave sufficient time for preparation and management of change. Jointly screen against available solutions that have already been proven by others to impact the traditional turnaround activities. These technologies can for example be selected from the ‘Maintenance and Turnarounds Module’ in the Technology Catalogue that will be available online soon. Examples of such technologies/innovations are: Risk Based Inspection of pressure equipment – complemented by Non-Intrusive Inspection, hot bolt clamping, hot work habitats, flare inspection by drone, dust free blasting, novel access solutions, advanced industrial cleaning solutions, novel bolting solutions and many more.
The presence of a dedicated ‘Technology Champion’ as part of the review team should not be underestimated as there is a natural tendency to limit change and people that have got used to planning turnarounds in more or less the same way for the last 20 years are less likely to suddenly come up with an alternative approach. Don’t be afraid to be disruptive and remember that what sounds disruptive to your organization may already be a common way of working for somebody else!
When conducting the review, it’s best to start in line with what is typically done in preparation of a turnaround already: identify the scope element that is driving the turnaround interval and challenge the scope. Reduced scope simply means lower cost, fewer people on site during an already crowded period and hence less chance for delays and incidents. Finding ways to extend the interval for the main scope driver typically enables the interval of the complete turnaround to be stretched. For example, if a turnaround interval is driven by the inspection of pressure relief valves, very often still following a time-based inspection regime of 4 years or less, the overall scope is going to be challenged as soon as a risk-based regime enables the inspection requirement of these valves to be stretched to an interval of for example 6 years.
After having looked at scope drivers and scope optimization, it’s possible to look at ways to optimize the execution of the event as per below picture: look for ways to optimize the execution during ramp-down, scope execution and re-commissioning.
Were you aware that the number of days spent on cleaning equipment to prepare for maintenance activities can often be halved by introducing more novel cleaning techniques? Or that the time required to re-bolt the compressor casing at an LNG plant can be reduced by half a day when switching to other bolts?
At the end of the review, typically taking no more than a day, make an initial assessment of potential improvements in cost/duration and summarize the technologies that can realize the improvements. Report the outcome to your management, including the critical success factors to make it happen to get sponsorship for taking the next steps. This step is particularly important for 2 main reasons: 1) To get the full organization in the mode of ‘this is how we’ll do it during the upcoming turnaround’ and 2) to get management support to transfer budgets between departments, if required, to benefit the overall impact.
2. Make it Happen
Now it’s time to start working towards impact delivery. It is important to maintain the momentum directly after the review. This enables you to complete follow-up actions well enough in advance of the turnaround and helps to avoid that having insufficient time becomes an easy excuse to cancel the deployment plans.
A key part of ‘make it happen’: develop a detailed plan of what is needed to get each technology selected in step 1 deployed in the turnaround, including contracts, risk assessments and other management of change requirements. Work out the details for every step to be completed throughout the phases of turnaround preparation, with one dedicated owner for every technology deployment.
Some of the typical actions to take during this time are initial engagements with the supplier(s) that can provide the technology and decide if you require further support from an external expert to support the deployment(s) in your organization.
From here onwards it’s mainly a matter of working the plan.
During regular turnaround progress meetings, the status of the technology deployments should be included to maintain visibility on these potentially high impact activities and to allow for timely intervention, when required.
When well-prepared the actual deployment itself should be no different than other activities during the turnaround.
We can assist you with the practicalities during all the phases to make it happen, help to connect you to the suppliers of th relevant technologies, and the experts who have hands-on experience with getting the technologies deployed in other companies, to allow for transfer of knowledge to sustainably embed the capability in your organization.