19 Jul 2018

How can refineries utilize power more efficiently during turnarounds?

refinery plant sunset
 

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Turnarounds are an important part of running an oil refinery and petrochemical plant. They are crucial for ensuring all equipment continues to run smoothly and to keep in line with any government and environmental regulations. But what happens when a turnaround takes too long or goes over budget? Carrying out turnarounds is vital, but do you have strategies in place to keep revenue stable and downtime limited? 

Turnarounds can drastically affect a plant’s bottom line if they’re not carried out properly. When they go on for too long or go over budget, plants will often see a rapid decline in revenue. On the flipside, a good turnaround that runs efficiently and below budget adds value to the plant and sets it up for future success. 

During a turnaround, plant operations have to stop completely while the focus shifts onto maintenance, like cleaning, repairs, and inspections. Because they’re mandated by regulatory bodies, it’s important that turnarounds are done properly to prevent accidents and ensure expensive pieces of equipment meet their warranty requirements. 

How One Refinery Saved Over $1 Million During a Turnaround

One refinery faced an upcoming turnaround to replace the FCC reactor, but in order to carry it out, they needed to produce a large amount of short-term power. For this plant in particular, space was at a premium. When the generators needed to be refueled, extra people and trucks were needed on site which was a struggle for plant managers who wanted to minimize the amount of bodies on site at that time. 

Because of this, the refinery wanted to look at ways they could generate enough short-term power by using space outside the FCC. 

We put 17 MW of generation capacity in an empty tank pad area that wasn’t within the confines of the FCC unit. By doing this, we were able to design a solution that used fewer generators that could run at higher efficiencies, which led to the refinery saving more than $1,400,000 during the turnaround. And, by placing the generators outside of the process unit, we were able to lower CO emissions by 18%. 

Avoiding Downtime During a Turnaround

In another case, a Midwestern refinery needed to replace their existing 480V motor control center which would take two days out of the schedule. This would mean a potential loss of hundreds and thousands of dollars in revenue - something the refinery simply couldn’t afford. 

They needed critical loads to remain online without any downtime while the switchgear was replaced, but had no idea how to make it happen. We conducted a number of site walks to scope out the space and then designed a unique solution to fit the exact project specifications. 

Over just 14 days, we mobilized two temporary generators and the switchgear needed to keep the process unit running during the turnaround. This led to zero downtime for the refinery and, more importantly, no loss in revenue. 

Working to the Needs of Each Refinery

Our goal is to work closely with each refinery during their turnaround to ensure we come up with a solution that fits their individual needs and completely avoids any unnecessary downtime.

Take one of the largest petrochemical plants in the world that was scheduled for maintenance on its switchgear and Motor Control Centers. The switchgear was designed to simplify the maintenance procedure, while the MCCs are often assessed during this maintenance stage which meant that the plant needed to carry out their turnaround without shutting down critical operations. 

We were quickly briefed on the situation, knowing that the electrical engineers needed to provide strategic power solutions that were safe and efficient. This would significantly reduce any excess costs and keep processes running safely during maintenance.

We joined the refinery’s internal weekly planning sessions to better understand the layout and needs of the plant before putting in place a vital strategic planning process. This allowed us to create a temporary power solution that was safe and efficient. The electrical system we designed was based around the specific load requirements for each switchgear building. 

We fitted each location with an uninterrupted power package that guaranteed zero downtime and exceeded the company’s safety requirements while abiding by the National Electric Code compliance regulations. 

Turnarounds are a routine part of running a refinery, and regularly carrying them out keeps equipment safe and processes running smoothly in the future. At Aggreko, our aim is to expertly craft unique solutions for each individual refinery, making sure that there is no downtime and no loss of revenue. 

Download our whitepaper on how to speed up the turnaround timeline:

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