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Plant Turnaround Teams Solidly in the Spotlight

"The ultimate success of any turnaround lies in the hands of the person on the wrench, who we must position for success." John McLay, P. Eng.

More specifically Plant Shutdown and Turnarounds require coordinated action, clear goals, and reliable outcomes. With fundamental goals of asset preservation, improved efficiency, and preventive maintenance/safety, shutdown and turnarounds prove that there is still great importance in the "person on the wrench". More precisely, a wrench and a stopwatch.

The truth of the "wrench & stopwatch" will be examined at 2nd Annual Effective Shutdown and Turnarounds, Vienna, September 26 – 27, where practitioners at leading plants will share their practices for meeting increasingly critical targets.

Why have TAR Teams + Shutdown and Turnaround operations gained the spotlight?

One view is that because plant assets are not only tools for production, but are also effectively ‘snapshots’ of prevailing market conditions and best available technology, they rely on a fixed base of skilled/specialized actors able to manage the demands on integrated technical and business processes.
Now solidly in the 21st century, many of the -older- assets have become marginally profitable or loss generating.

At the same time many products have become cheaper to import making older plants liabilities. The closures of 12 major refineries in Europe and 11 in the US remind the community that the complexity of inspecting plants, each with a unique configuration, creates the need for specialists to operate in a tightly planned management structure. In this respect, the consequence of a failed turnaround may be a permanent closure.

This cycle was plainly demonstrated during the 2011-12 closures in two concrete ways. The first being the intersection of ‘talk & action’. Concepts like ‘Peak Oil’, ‘Hole in the Ozone layer’ , ‘GHGs’ and ‘Global Warming’ all had small impacts over the last 25 years, however, only recently has word become reality. Deep cutting regulatory action has brought major costs to refiners and others. (The European Commission’s 20/2020 being an embodiment of this process)

How have TAR Teams responded?

The huge investments required to build and maintain an asset mean that companies must guarantee a certain degree of longevity. However, with both fuels and chemical markets becoming increasingly volatile, TARs have had to become increasingly ‘tactical’ in nature to respond to market conditions.

Thus it appears that refining strategists are running a kind of ‘triage’ of assets in their portfolio, employing TAR teams to update the status and risk manage various assets. As both regulation and the market evolve, so again has the strategists reliance on ‘the person with their ‘hand on the wrench’.

2nd Annual Effective Shutdown and Turnarounds, Vienna incorporates many views on Turnarounds as preventative maintenance, sharpened team dynamics, and turnaround management, all of which are critical in these tight times. In contrast, the event includes a scheduled tour of MOL Group’s Slovnaft Refinery (ranked 3rd highest for conversion in Europe), located 1 hour from Vienna in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The ‘man with wrench’ will take on renewed importance for Slovnaft in 2013 as construction of a 220,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) installation and the reconstruction of the company’s 210,000 tonne/year ethylene plant are set to begin.

With so many ‘constants’ disappearing in the industry, the event has made sure to attract a wide diversity of speakers. Look for BP’s Tony Gibby as he discusses shutdown operations at Rumalia, Iraq, while Jan Van der Aa focuses on turnaround management at BASF’s highly integrated Verbund site. Catalysts management, HSE and contractor partnerships, all feature at the event.

Take a look at cutting edge practice, take a look at Slovnaft, then apply your sharpened skills to your next turnaround.