Dec 9, 2015

Good planning is the key to a successful plant shutdown

Turnaround, shutdown, outage or revision – there are many names for the complex event in which an entire process unit in oil or gas production is taken off-stream for renewal. In June of 2015, Neste’s Porvoo refinery in Finland completed the largest turnaround in its history. Metso’s service solution for the turnaround consisted of valve maintenance planning, spare equipment, maintenance and spare parts, as well as real-time project process follow-up.

TEXT: Marjaana Lehtinen

PHOTOS: Aleksi Koskinen

Professional planning, efficient execution and on-time startup ensure safety as well as high valve availability and reliability until the next planned shutdown. A major shutdown interval in the oil and gas industry usually ranges from three to six years. Metso was already involved in the previous shutdown in 2010 at the refinery in Porvoo. The maintenance carried out during the latest shutdown, which ran from April to mid-June of 2015, should ensure the reliability of the valves for the next five years. During any shutdown, it is essential to minimize all delays in order to stay on schedule as well as to ensure a smooth transition to normal production and to recover productivity as quickly as possible.

By analyzing equipment condition, we can pinpoint the equipment that needs proactive maintenance by Metso’s dedicated service experts." alt="By analyzing equipment condition, we can pinpoint the equipment that needs proactive maintenance by Metso’s dedicated service experts.

By analyzing equipment condition, we can pinpoint the equipment that needs proactive maintenance by Metso’s dedicated service experts.

The successful turnaround project at the Neste Porvoo refinery was the biggest ever for Metso’s valve services business in Finland. All in all, about 270 Metso valves were maintained during the shutdown, providing the customer with significant improvements to valve availability. The targets set for such huge projects are typically clear: to maintain and improve availability, performance, safety and environmental compliance. Achieving them calls for a partner who not only understands the plant’s needs and targets, but also has expert services and proven methodology. 

Experience and continuous development

“Valve maintenance planning for the turnaround project was preceded by close cooperation between Neste and Metso. Metso’s installed base at the plant is quite large. So by using their valve maintenance know-how, we can be sure that the valves will operate with maximum availability and reliability until the next turnaround,” says Jarkko Niittymaa, Maintenance Manager, Neste.

The fact that Metso has vast valve maintenance experience and in-depth expertise in shutdowns around the world provides customers with significant benefits. This year alone, the company has been involved in more than 100 shutdowns.

It is extremely important that customers can rely on a supplier’s know-how during the tightly scheduled shutdown project.

TIMO HÄNNINEN, Vice President, Flow Control Services, Metso 

Timo Hänninen, Vice President, Flow Control Services, Metso explains, “To help our customers achieve outstanding, long-term process performance with high reliability and safety, we continuously develop our service knowledge, capability and scope of offering. It is extremely important that customers can rely on a supplier’s know-how during the tightly scheduled shutdown project.”

Minimized risks and improved safety

Shutdowns are very complex and expensive projects. Anything can happen, leading to unexpected situations that interfere with schedules and postpone production startup. An extra day can result in losses of millions of euros or dollars. Being well prepared ensures that the planned downtime will not be exceeded. It significantly improves occupational safety, too.

“Our major concern is the safety of the customer’s and our own personnel. Therefore, our people follow the customer’s and Metso’s safety rules stringently, whether the work is taking place on site or at Metso’s or the customer’s service facilities. Following the rules and planning the work well are key to a safe workplace,” Hänninen emphasizes. 

“A shutdown can be considered a strategic project for the plant, a way to manage the plant’s assets,” remarks Anne Hassinen, Manager, Shutdown Business Management, Metso.

“Having us as a partner for shutdown planning ensures the availability of the correct materials and resources when needed. It minimizes risks and also ensures the safety and reliability of the process until the next planned shutdown.”

In terms of valve maintenance  and services, the planning procedures for  each shutdown are carried out by dedicated experts from Metso.











It is the level of planning that determines the success of shutdown execution. 

ANNE HASSINEN, Manager, Shutdown Business Management, Metso

Attention to equipment and process criticality

To ensure the plant’s safe operation until the next planned shutdown, it’s important to carefully identify the equipment in need of upgrading, maintenance or replacement. This not only defines the shutdown scope and activities, but also determines the shutdown schedule and the needed resources and materials.

The scope is built based on maintenance needs, maintenance plans and equipment service intervals. “By analyzing the equipment condition, we can select the equipment that needs proactive maintenance. Equipment should be maintained before it causes any disruption to production or presents any safety risks,” Hassinen explains. “Equipment and process criticality is evaluated together by our service experts and the plant personnel. Through installed base analysis, we make sure that the actions are defined based on actual product types.”

“Through careful planning together with the plant’s personnel, we are able to optimize the shutdown scope and the necessary actions, and thus make certain that the correct materials and resources are available during the shutdown,” Hassinen continues. Equipment maintenance is carried out with manufacturer’s parts, maintenance procedures and recommendations, so it is possible to guarantee safe operation until the next planned maintenance. 

Planning determines execution success

A shutdown is a chain of closely linked events. A well-planned shutdown scope, actions, materials and resources result in efficient shutdown execution and a smooth startup. Hassinen continues: “The actions of our people, on site and at the valve maintenance facilities, ensure that the plant is receiving high-quality valve maintenance and repairs during the shutdown execution. All maintenance activities are performed by our valve service experts and certified smart product service experts according to Metso’s safety and quality standards.”

Despite careful scope optimization, it’s very likely that something unexpected will come up during the shutdown. For example, it may well be that a piece of equipment needs to be added on the maintenance scope at the very last moment. In such cases, it is crucial to be able to count on a shutdown partner who is capable of adapting and reacting quickly to the changing needs.

“It is the level of planning that determines the success of shutdown execution. Any unexpected event can have an effect on materials, schedules and resources, and thus jeopardize both the project schedule and budget,” Hassinen says realistically. “During the planning phase, shutdown scope and actions are defined, but we must also be prepared for the unexpected during execution. Detailed planning with the plant’s staff enables us to be prepared and minimize unexpected risks.’’ 

To ensure a safe and on-time startup as well as a quick return to full production, expert support is available. Metso’s service experts, backed by the company’s whole extensive global network, promptly detect any problems and help to quickly resolve possible issues.

Evaluation is important, too

Once the plant is up and running, it’s time to evaluate and learn from the project for the next planned shutdown. “Additionally, we provide the plant with tag-specific service reports and test certificates as well as recommendations for future maintenance, upgrades and replacements to improve process reliability and safety,” Hassinen concludes. 

Published in Results flow control customer magazine 2/2015.