Saudi Aramco Shell refinery jumps two quartiles in reliability performance

Jubail refinery awarded 2017 Reliability Program of the Year

By Dave Perkon

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At the Saudi Aramco Shell refinery (SASREF) in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, performance benefits were realized in emergency maintenance and mechanical availability, both of which jumped two quartiles. This added some real value with a 13.5% reduction in maintenance cost from the total budget, including overhead, and a 38% reduction in cost-avoidance bad actors, reducing maintenance costs an additional 3.2% this year. There were many other reliability improvements.

All of this couldn’t have been achieved without hard work and a successful reliability program. For its efforts the refinery won the 2017 Emerson Reliability Program of the Year. "It starts with our vision to safely achieve best-in-class performance, maximizing profitability, with commitment to our people and community," said Yahya Hamdi, reliability engineer, maintenance strategy, at SASREF. "We have four core values: people, safety, ethics and excellence. We always start with people."

Its reliability program will expand with plans to look at future and continuous improvements. Benchmarking and performance will be studied with actions and plans assigned as needed. SASREF also will continue to develop its excellence center and ISO 55001:2014 asset management along with programs to execute a culture of sustained reliability while partnering with Emerson.

SASREF was one of three finalists selected, based on interviews and program details presented at the 2017 Emerson Global Users Exchange this week in Minneapolis. It competed with 53 organizations worldwide that were nominated by their Emerson representatives and local business partners—the most ever—through three rounds of competition.

To start, the participants had to fill out an extensive questionnaire about their reliability programs, host a member of the Emerson's Operational Certainty Consulting team and then prepare and deliver the reliability presentation twice at the Emerson Global Users Exchange event to a panel of expert judges. The judging panel included an industry analyst, a reliability and operational excellence expert and a university assistant director, among others.

In distinguished company

The two runners-up were Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources, Lawrenceville, Georgia, and TNB Janamanjung Sdn. Bhd., Manjung, Perak, Malaysia. During the presentations, each best-in-class finalist discussed its company's reliability program, highlighting the effective use of reliability-based technologies, effective work processes, integrated maintenance best practices, leadership commitment, business benefits and lessons learned.

Charlie Roberts, section manager, facility operations, at Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources, discussed the reliability program at this water, wastewater and storm water utility covering 437 sq mi and 16 municipalities, serving more than 900,000 customers and $3.1 billion in production assets. "Each of our five main plants had its own micro-culture," said Roberts. "We were not doing what we were supposed to be doing, so we created a steering committee to set the goals and path and then reorganized to central management. The result was the creation of a reliability program called Maintenance Operations Reliability Excellence (MORE). It created a roadmap aligned with teams and a reliability framework to ensure we provide superior water services at an excellent value."

Phoebe Rajendran, senior engineer at TNB Janamanjung Sdn. Bhd. (TNBJ) discussed the reliability program at the largest electricity utility in Malaysia. TNBJ supplies 20% of Peninsular Malaysia’s electricity demand and is currently the largest independent power producer in Malaysia. It includes two generating facilities with a total generating capacity of 3,100 MW.

"Before the reliability program, we were not meeting our targets,” said Rajendran. "With limited skilled manpower available, we decided to deploy Emerson AMS 9420 wireless vibration transmitters on our critical equipment, such as coal conveyor lines. The ability to collect vibration data, including spectrum/ waveform/ PeakVue, periodically and access it remotely with less manpower and improved accuracy is a huge accomplishment."

Saudi Aramco’s Hamdi discussed how they created a reliability assurance program at the refinery that produces 305,000 bpd. It started in 2014 with a reliability assurance program that did not exist, a maintenance department with a reactive outlook, overloaded engineers and a shortage of predictive maintenance resources and techniques.

From laggard to leader

"We had no reliability program in 2014,” said Hamdi. “The rotating equipment department was scattered in engineering and other areas, and our resources were overloaded. There were 700 assets per engineer. With all the data we had in place, we did an analysis of our weaknesses and strengths. At the time, we were concerned about the age of the facility and attrition of skilled workers, resulting in a knowledge gap."

While SASREF had high reliability, there were opportunities to improve availability, failure management, maintenance index and work processes. It created a Reliability Excellence Transformation (RExT) program that infused a reliability culture and improved performance by creating work processes.

After benchmarking and assessing the operations, it established two new departments in 2015, reliability and rotating equipment, to become a maintenance-focused organization and proactively improve work processes. "We moved from a firefighting to a proactive side of maintenance," said Ghaith Al-Ghamdi, engineer, asset maintenance at SASREF. "We deployed two new processes, Threat Identification Workshop (TIW) and Mitigation of Threats to Availability (MTA). A total of 176 threats were identified, and 98% of the threats were resolved."

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