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Ras Tanura Refinery celebrates successful completion of major T&I

21st February 2018

Ras Tanura Refinery (RTR) recently celebrated the successful completion of a major turnaround and inspection (T&I), with proper planning and a collaborative effort from everyone involved credited for the success.

Ras Tanura Refinery (RTR)
Ras Tanura Refinery (RTR)

Responsible for a significant portion of fuel production in the Kingdom, production up-time of the RTR Gas Condensate Fractionation and the Platformer/Naptha Hydrotreater (NHT) units is of the essence at RTR. The T&Is on both units were completed in a new best-in-class duration for the respective units when compared to their global peers as per globally accepted Solomon Study refinery benchmarks. The Fractionation Unit T&I was completed in 27 days, and the Platformer Unit T&I was completed in 32 days, against their benchmarks of 28 days and 35 days, respectively.

“Planning and successfully executing the scope required a team effort,” RTR general manager Yahya A. Abushal said during the celebration event. “The management team appreciates the efforts of the RTR team and the support extended by all of the departments within Saudi Aramco that went to extra lengths to support the RTR T&I, including Support Services and Central Engineering, along with all of our RTR contractor partners.”

Refinery Maintenance manager Sami Burushaid said “beating Solomon top performers, increasing RTR’s 2017 cash margin significantly, and the additional value created are only glimpses of the success story of this exemplary T&I.”

Raed AlSaadoun, Refinery Maintenance superintendent and T&I chairman, said: “The success of this major T&I was measured by zero safety incidents, worldwide best-in-class duration, significant cost avoidance, early startup, and most importantly, knowledge transfer to the major company asset — our young workforce.”

The RTR Gas Condensate Fractionation unit, and the Platformer/NHT units were shut down for the T&I to carry out inspections and maintenance as per the Equipment Inspection Schedule (EIS), and to execute other maintenance and projects that require plant downtime. The plants are on a five-year T&I cycle.

Two years in the making

Planning and preparation for the T&I kicked off two years ago, and followed an internally developed process based on the “Corporate Maintenance Turnaround Manual.” Milestones and deliverables were closely monitored and managed by the relevant division heads and department heads. The team targeted zero safety and environmental incidents, zero leaks and reworks, completing the T&I within the scheduled duration, and within the business plan budgeted cost.

The work was completed safely, with zero, health, safety, and environmental (HSE) incidents or injuries. The enormity of the HSE performance is appreciated when considering that 9,258 permits were issued, more than 500,000 man-hours were expended, with peak manning in excess of 1,900 people on-site per day. The HSE performance was enabled by a robust T&I HSE process, internally developed by the RTR T&I unit. The process brings together the HSE requirements applicable to T&Is, with deliverables throughout the planning and execution processes beginning from kickoff until T&I close out. A modified lockout/tagout procedure, suitable for ensuring safety during T&I, was agreed upon with Loss Prevention and successfully implemented.

In a challenging cost environment, the RTR team and management were very conscious of making decisions that optimize resource utilization. The T&I was completed well below the business plan budgeted cost, and at a significantly reduced cost than was incurred in the T&I five years ago.

Reasons for success

Main contributors to the T&I success included:

Knowledge transfer: The correct balance between experienced personnel and high potential, less experienced personnel, enabling successful execution and knowledge transfer. The Saudi Aramco team members possessed a range of experiences, from many years of global experience to newly graduated engineers. The opportunity was successfully utilized for a number of young engineers and craftsmen from across the admin area to gain valuable experience that will serve them, and the company, well into the future.

An online EIS initiative, where a combined 36% of the total EIS scope was completed outside of the T&I window, which had a positive impact in reducing costs by utilizing existing low-cost long form contracts, reducing the safety risk, and resource loading.

Following an in-house developed RTR T&I manual with an extensive two-year planning cycle with milestones and detailed deliverables, as well as the RTR HSE program whereby all of the HSE elements relevant to the T&I were defined with deliverables in the planning milestones. This ensured that all elements of safety were identified and managed.

A robust contracting strategy, whereby the most optimal mix and scope segregation of contracts were developed, accompanied by effective negotiations and execution, which resulted in a major cost reduction. Along with a materials procurement strategy, the optimized resource planning and allocation had a positive impact on the overall T&I cost.

The Plant Integrity Window was created to sustain plant operation by improving the processes of safety management, asset integrity, and reliability. The program identifies and monitors parameters within fixed ranges, outside of which the plant asset integrity will be impacted. The parameters are monitored and managed daily. Effective management of operating within parameters resulted in no major field findings in the T&I.

Following an in-house developed detailed Quality Assurance and Quality Control plan to ensure a high standard of repairs to ensure zero leaks during startup. The RTR T&I quality management system was used to ensure plant integrity. Specific inspection testing plans for each job type were developed, utilized, and closed off for each scope item. The welding acceptance rate of 97.2% is considered exemplary.

Reducing risks cost

The work scope executed gives an idea of the significance of the safety, cost, and duration success. The majority of the activities were conducted concurrently, often within limited physical space. A total of 224 pieces of EIS equipment, and 984 maintenance and modification jobs were executed. A further 124 equipment EISs were done online prior to the T&I, thereby significantly reducing the safety risk, execution risk, and costs.

Among the projects, clean fuels tie-ins were completed, enabling RTR to support a sustainable future. Mercury removal project tie-ins and a platformer reactor bypass project implemented in the T&I will allow extended run lengths on the plants, thereby further supporting downstream supply stability. Major modifications, including retrofitting 96 internal reactor scallops, supporting improved reactor performance, and preventing future repairs were also implemented.

Platformer reactor bypass project implementation

The RTR team successfully completed the platformer reactor’s 20-inch bypass project. The modification, design, procurement and implementation were conducted in-house in partnership with Honeywell UOP and the Process and Control Systems Department. The bypass will mitigate the differential pressure experienced due to catalyst pinning across the platformer’s second reactor, avoiding an 11-day shutdown during the upcoming five-year run period and resulting in significant value creation. RTR partnered with 13 contractor companies in the T&I.

RTR employees and their management are committed to further improve T&I planning and execution while also maintaining Solomon best-in-class performance. 


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