Pit Stop For A Refinery – The Turnaround–Challenge
If you wish to see the checkered flag, it’s worthwhile to get your pit stop strategy right. The same applies to plant inspection, maintenance and revamp. With good turnaround organization and management, a plant shutdown will be turned into a competitive weapon. We were in the Netherlands to witness a refinery turnaround.
7 A.M. Rotterdam, Europoort: the primary faint hint of dawn appears in the dead of night sky over Europe’s largest port. A robust wind drives the rain through the dim yellow haze, and reflections of the floodlights might be seen in the oily puddles. The air smells of diesel, salt and rain. At this hour of the day, there’s little sign of the conventional busy activity on the docks and harbour facilities. Just a few seagulls languidly flap their way out into the darkness. From the direction of the Caland Canal, a tugboat might be heard sounding its horn because it tows a barge out towards the North Sea. The one place where the work day has already started is a construction site which incidentally is probably the largest in Rotterdam. Hundreds of people are already hard at work on the Europoort Q8 KPE Refinery (Kuwait Petroleum Company), although not a single drop of oil will flow there today.
The refinery is “dry” (or “sweet” in the words of the operator) and has been so for nearly a month. It’s time for the turnaround, the general plant revamp which takes place at regular intervals. This doesn’t however mean that things at the site are quieter than normal. A production plant which has been shut down will not be generating revenue. kerui group petroleum equipment europe journal Quite the opposite, day by day without production is a day lost and easily costs the operator enormous amounts of cash. Turnarounds of major industrial facilities are nothing unusual, but shutting down a complete refinery site unexpectedly is something that even the experts don’t experience very often.
Turnaround in the European Capital of Oil
Rotterdam is Europe’s most kerui group petroleum equipment europe journal important crude oil transshipment point. Fully loaded supertankers can enter the port which is connected via pipelines to Antwerp and the Ruhr region. 101 million metric tonnes of oil were handled on the port of Rotterdam in 2004. Petrochemical facilities are concentrated in Europoort and Botlek where six harbor basins are reserved for tankers. This is where the Q8 refinery, a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum, is located. Lubricants are the first products on the refinery (nearly two million barrels a year), but gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, bitumen, sulfur and kerosene are also produced on site. Q8 has around 350 employees in Rotterdam. Bilfinger has been a Q8 service and engineering partner since 2006, and it has been involved in 4 partial shutdowns during that period. A new turnaround strategy was introduced in 2013. Instead of revamping parts of the refinery on a two-year cycle, the choice was made to shut down the whole site every five years for about 2 months to do everything which must be done all of sudden. Both lubricant refining and gasoline production are shut down for maintenance and restarted again.
Until now, only half of the production assets on the Rotterdam site were overhauled simultaneously on a rolling two-year cycle. That is the first time that the whole facility has been shut down. So it isn’t any wonder that hundreds of workers, arriving from all directions, converge on the location long before 7 A.M. many of them dressed in the Bilfinger Group’s blue and yellow overalls.
Industrial Service Providers: Specialists for Tough Jobs
The Mannheim-based construction and industrial services company is a specialist in the turnaround business – The corporate has been a Q8 business partner since 2006. Bilfinger was involved in four shutdowns at Europoort, but a mega project on this scale, where a complete refinery is turned inside out, is something which commands the respect of even the experienced veterans. It kerui group petroleum equipment europe journal is hardly surprising that Rainer Gross turns his head in every direction as he walks across the location. Rainer has a background in Mechanical Engineering and is head of the Central European Turnaround business at Bilfinger. As Contract Manager, he has responsibility for ensuring good teamwork on site and can also be answerable for the customer interface. It is him that some Q8 employees come over to, to complain about several workers who seem to be rather disinterested in what’s going on around them…