Collaboration Portal Helps Speed SIS Valve Turnaround for BP

Texas City Turnaround: BP's Story of Supersized Scope and Real Results

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By Jim Montague, Executive Editor

One missing valve certification document or buried e-mail with a repair specification is not a big problem. The problem is that there's never just one.

Incomplete, lost or misdirected records usually multiply by the dozens and hundreds and can make already complex projects more difficult and time-consuming than they have to be. Paper documents are static and difficult to distribute widely, while e-mail threads rapidly stretch out until critical points are lost in the electronic sauce.

To combat these organizational goblins, maintenance engineers at BP's Texas City refinery and their local business partner, Puffer-Sweiven, recently completed a huge valve turnaround project in just under nine weeks. Stacy Baltzegar, BP's instrument and control reliability engineer, Tate Cunningham of Puffer-Sweiven and Ryan Baker of Emerson Process Management presented "Texas City Turnaround: BP's Story of Supersized Scope and Real Results" this week at the 2011 Emerson Global Users Exchange in Nashville.

Baltzegar added that BP Texas City is the third-largest refinery in the U.S., and processes 3% of the nation's gasoline. The 1,200-acre facility has more than 2,000 employees, who run more than 20 process units producing gasoline, ultra-low-sulfur diesel, jet fuel, feed stocks and heavy fuels. The facility handles about 475,000 barrels of oil per day and produces about 7 billion gallons of petroleum product per year.

The valve turnaround project came to encompass "every valve associated with our safety instrumented system (SIS). They all had to be pulled and shopped to establish the health baseline for starting a new program with known conditions," he explained. "This boosted our scope from 212 to 457 valves—all scheduled for Class A repairs. Without enough manpower to oversee timely decision-making, our turnaround schedule was threatened. However, despite this large scope growth, the repair window was extended only slightly to just over eight weeks, which put the plant at risk for lost production."

To address safety and quality assurance/control issues, meet agreed-on lead time and deadlines, and support SIS lifecycle expectations, BP and its partners decides to use two primary tools to organize the valve turnaround project. The first was getting all team members to use a custom collaboration portal based on Microsoft SharePoint software, and the second was employing Emerson Process Management Six-Step Turnaround program.

The customized SharePoint application gave BP's team a common, online location to communicate 24/7 with each other. This allowed easy project assignments and updates; prevented the loss of useful inventory items and requirements; helped maintain efficient workflow by widely disseminating revised tasks; and enabled thorough documentation. 

"Everyone had immediate access to review the conversations about specific issues as they arose," said Baker. "By the end of the turnaround, all team members were using SharePoint on a daily basis as the primary source of contact. This electronic file sharing supported real-time selective engagement of various areas of responsibility, including safety, quality assurance, project management and managing mechanical discovery issues. It also involving all stakeholders in real-time decisions to aid reliability and enabled the logistics of efficient scheduling of plant resources."

Meanwhile, BP's use of SharePoint dovetailed with its deployment of Emerson's Six-Step Turnaround Management Process. The six steps include:

  • Outage development—early engagement and advance preparation to reduce costs;
  • Project kick-off—clarify broad definition of scope, timing, duration and budget;
  • Refining details—review technical options and maintenance practices to confirm requirements and prioritize work plan;
  • Internal planning—define roles, plan required resources, provide training and create communication plan;
  • Outage execution—perform work to specification, communicate status reports and document change-orders;
  • Outage review—conduct post-turnaround meeting, present final documentation package.

"The Six-Step process advises doing pre-planning where possible to minimize discovery, keeps meticulous records to establish baseline data and seeks lessons learned in its documentation for future reference," reported Cunningham. "The SharePoint discussion area supported changes and discrepancies without a lag in communication, and we also used its alert structure to notify critical personnel of updates in the units. As a result, we saw deviations in the inbox immediately, so we know there was a valve to address, and it took our responses down from hours or days to minutes. As a result, the Six-Steps have a record of enabling users to execute plans within budgets and scheduling. They remove the variability from an outage via comprehensive project planning. And they ensure that repairs are performed by expert, factory-trained technicians through certified repair programs."

Baker added that, "Integrating SharePoint with Six-Steps created a more fluid process. The key tools that helped us were data tracking, daily status report, return dates, discrepancy and deviation issues, and documentation management."

Balzegar concluded, "SharePoint and Six-Steps means that scope changes on a 'moving target' were communicated effectively, avoiding lost revenue and unexpected downtime. Also, electronic file-sharing accelerated repair decision-making and can be leveraged for future maintenance planning. Consequently, we completed our turnaround on schedule and even reduced our repair window for control valves by three days. Finally, we gained a lot of efficiency in documentation management. For example, we reduced post-turnaround reporting by three or four weeks, and we improved the overall reliability of our process by analyzing all captured data and applying findings."

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