In December, Yanbu' Refinery will complete its 35-day Total Refinery Shutdown. After that, three new facilities will be tied into the refinery and major modifications will enable the refinery to add 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline to its existing production, boosting the total to 60,000 bpd of premium gasoline. Refinery shutdowns usually are a time for scheduled maintenance and testing and inspection (T&I). But at Yanbu' Refinery, where massive construction projects are under way both for Saudi Aramco and several private-sector industries, this shutdown will be a transformation.
Tie-ins for the three major projects - the Continuous Catalyst Regeneration Unit, the Isomerization Unit, and the Diesel Hydrotreating Complex - designed to increase the plant's gasoline capacity and reduce the sulfur content in diesel are included in the shutdown plan, as is a carefully crafted program to extend the T&I cycle from the current five years to seven years.
"Executing T&I's is a challenging task that consumes a considerable amount of money and resources," said team member Mohammed M. Al-Hazmi, a maintenance engineer from Yanbu' Refinery. "In the month of November, a major milestone will begin that will change the refinery into a more complex one."
With such an ambitious agenda for the shutdown, a core team for the project was established in April 2004, and in the 18 months between that date and the planned shutdown, much work already has been done. In addition to preparing an integrated plan so that many maintenance activities can be carried out at the same time, the team also organized the Scope Challenge Workshop, in wgehich refinery employees met with other members from Rabigh, Ras Tanura, Jiddah and Riyadh refineries, as well as various company departments and organizations, to ensure maximum efficiency in the shutdown.
Through the workshop, innovations were created to optimize the scope of work. The planned T&I cycle extension to seven years also was a matter of critical examination to ensure plant safety and successful operations. Safety has been a primary concern for the team, and a Contractor Safety Manual has been created along with ongoing meetings with contractor employees to set a zero-incident safety target for the project.