STO Consulting: Efficient, Expedient and Cost Effective

Posted on April 3rd, 2015

One of the most cost effective and efficient ways to reduce the turnaround scope is to optimize the turnaround plant shutdown work list. Optimization takes time as past asset histories must be reviewed and collated into a usable format and then the inspection frequency assessment is compared to an in house or other acceptable standard. Once in place the operating facility reviews what work can be completed without shutting down of the process.



John McLay recently had the opportunity to assist Plains Midstream Canada Ltd at their Buck Creek Frac Plant (BCFP) located southeast of Drayton Valley Alberta. In this post, John recounts to us his experience with Plains Midstream, as well as highlighting the difference that knowledgeable and experience consultant can make in making a Shutdown, Turnaround and Outage efficient, expedient and cost-effective…as well as fun!

A few years back, just after planning and executing a piping soil to air inspection program, the plant manager required apart time person to assist with contractor coordination and engineering support. This was for corrosion under insulation inspection (CUI), asbestos abatement work and other smaller engineering projects. As the manager realized that they did not have an inspection history central file, digital or hardcopy, to review for the upcoming turnaround, there was an understanding that this project would be quite the undertaking. The TAR was just over 2 years away. He asked me if I would be willing to multi task all three areas, taking on an almost full time schedule for several months as a contractor. I agreed to this and while coordinating on site contractor work, developed an asset file folder structure and summary excel spreadsheet, originally spread over four separate sets of inspection history documents. Basically, I put all the documents under one roof for ease of filtering and review. The individual asset file folders numbered just over 150, with just under 100 being within the pressure boundary.

The following year, I asked these folks if they would like to come into Edmonton to attend the “MasterClass: Shutdowns & Turnarounds,” training seminar. However due to the number of interested people, cost and time lost to attend, it was decided to host the training at a local Drayton Valley College campus. This has turned into a successful and local annual event: bringing international certified and recognized training to small town Alberta.

With the BCFP plant coming into the turnaround year and that I was familiar with the site equipment, the plant manager invited me to attend the work scope generation kick off meeting. There were some surprising results due to the TAR frequency optimization

1.)  TAR schedule was reduced from 11 days to 6 and one shift (days) – previous scopes and time frame because:

2.)  Number of assets was reduced to 24 for this event and then further reduced for outage work

3.)  Number of assets requiring a plant shutdown was reduced to 6 (requires only one day of overtime)

4.)  Number of Pressure Safety Valves (PSV’s) or regulatory inspection: 76

5.)  Number of PSV’s requiring a plant shutdown will be less than 20

6.)  Planning for the work scope and work scope support systems is 15 full time weeks spread over 7 months.

7.)  Number of planning meetings is 2 per month, at 3 hours each, for 8 months.

8.)  Specific savings in fabrication costs, long term lead items, shipping, purchases

9.)  Site personnel were actively involved, completed 75% of the work and retained the knowledge on site

10.)               Schedule was reduced so now a simpler Gantt chart will be used.

11.)               Highlights within the TAR year

  1. Moth ball 25% of the plant is included in the planning (2 weeks)
  2. Moved 2 towers forward to 2015 inspection and reduce 2020 inspection load for TAR efficiency
  3. Site visits and contractor schedules were cost maximized to the benefit of contractor low work periods with maximum experience and equipment availability.
  4. Increased Engineering project work by 300% due to availability of TAR planning time

It is anticipated that the cost of the TAR was reduced by 30% and the schedule reduced by 40%. This in accounting terms says the TAR was completed for less than 50% of original cost estimate, safely and with quality.

How did I fit into the work scope planning: The regular planner is a winter snowbird and would not have been available until April 1, 2015 meaning that the planned work scope activities may have pushed into the July/August period. Now the TAR work scope completed outside the TAR plant outage schedule will be done this spring, during regular hours and everyone has the opportunity to enjoy their summer. With my being on site for 4 weeks in February/March, we were able to plan the “PRIOR’ work, organize at an efficient pace and execute with maximum quality and cost saving. Can you tell this was all done at a much reduced stress level and a very enjoyable pace. We have made the TAR stress-free and fun for all involved, along with saving the company significant time, energy and costs. 

Hiring a consultant may seem like a large investment early on in the planning process, but it is often the most efficient way of ensuring that your STO, TAR and/or other large project goes off without a hitch! John McLay brings several decades of project management experience, is an internationally acclaimed trainer and author of one of the most valuable technical manuals in the industry. With reasonable rates, and the kind of knowledge and expertise you can depend on, there is simply no better choice for supporting your company through the planning stages and all the way up to execution and debriefing.

To learn more about how you can engage John as a contractor to support you through your project, contact us today!