by Tracy Gray
Thanks to the pandemic, delays in turnarounds, and restrictions on the numbers of contractors on rigs, pipelines and production sites forced companies to delay work that had been planned for years. As we continue to emerge from the restrictions, industry experts predict a bottleneck of turnaround projects into 2023 as companies work to get back on track.
Sodexo Energy and Resources, a provider of food, facilities management, and operational support services, in energy, oil and gas, and mining, recently met with industry leaders from companies such as Phillips66, CPChem, PEMEX, and others to evaluate challenges, solutions, and innovation to streamline turnarounds and outages and relieve the bottleneck.
Industrial Info Resources (IIR) reported the industry is headed into the biggest season for maintenance spending in the U.S. and Canadian petroleum refining industry since 2019. With a total of more than 1,500 projects planned for 2023 and only 32 percent today considered successful, there is still significant room for improvement in the turnaround industry.
“If we’ve learned anything from our conversation with industry leaders, it’s that success remains an uphill battle in the face of a volatile market,” said Eddie Oliver, Sodexo Energy and Resources’ VP of Facilities Management.
The top challenges discussed among the turnaround industry leaders were scope control, schedule discipline, supply chain disruptions, and contractor skill level and availability.
Attendees also indicated that early alignment and adherence to cost and resources would create beneficial efficiencies. “Although difficult, it’s important for leadership to share common objectives from the onset and firmly agree upon what their teams need to do to be successful,” said Oliver. “Early engagement with skilled contractors and a multi-year scope of work will keep them in your arena as well as allow both sides to develop institutional knowledge. Both bode well for commitment to future work—a plus in a labor shortage.”
The attendees suggested implementing a standard planning and scheduling software that would consolidate and standardized processes. They called for improved and increased communication among units to locate needed supplies or to share resources or connections to another unit’s suppliers.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the innovation and creative thinking that this group brought to the room,” said Oliver.
A few owner/operators recommended the industry do away with large, extensive turnarounds. Instead, plan smaller, rolling outages when operations are slower than normal.
Until change gets underway, turnarounds still need to happen with efficiency and expertise.
Sodexo’s client site, a refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., is one of the top petroleum refineries in the United States and the company’s largest and most complex refinery worldwide, producing an average of 350,000 barrels of petroleum liquids per day. In January 2022, the 6,000-acre refinery slowed down production for a planned major turnaround, the second largest in its 60-year history.
“Over the course of three months, our team kept the schedule on track by delivering a range of services for an additional 4,800 workers on-site and solving large-scale logistical projects,” added Oliver.
At this refinery turnaround, Sodexo played a key role in supporting the client with many aspects of the large-scale project—from catering to sanitation and janitorial services, to putting together lunch and office installations, to handling supplies and appliance purchase. In addition, the Solexo team was tasked with removing and reinstalling security gate equipment to facilitate transportation and deliveries of oversized equipment.
Sodexo has been offering facilities management to this site since 2019. This turnaround was the first project of its scale that the team was tasked with.
By the Numbers
- 24/7 operations for 11 weeks
- 6,000 acres refinery
- Up to 4,800 additional contractors on site
- 65 Sodexo employees
With up to 4,800 additional workers on-site, the Sodexo team in Pascagoula had their work cut out for them. Some challenges included:
- Providing janitorial and cleaning services for double the workforce on-site
- Provided internal catering to a total of 13,537 guests in a three-month period, as well as assisting the refinery to facilitate external caterers for approximately 2,000 meals daily
- Installing three different lunch tents with a total of 1,200 seats
- Facilitating the purchase of 120 microwaves
- Supplying furniture for and installing 25 modular offices
- Providing the audio system in the control tent
- Facilitating and managing the inventory for 18 vending machines, triple the usual inventory at this site
- Supplying and servicing temporary 50% more portable restrooms throughout the site
- Facilitating the transportation logistics of a 2,500-ton crane brought in for a 1-million-pound module assembly
Despite the nationwide supply chain disruptions experienced, the team rose to the challenge and provided uninterrupted support without compromising service excellence.
One of the main factors in the success of the team was being part of the planning meetings from the get-go. The team was able to understand the scope of needs and plan accordingly, especially regarding supply chain disruptions. So, despite delays in deliveries and unusually high numbers in some supplies, the team was ready and operational on January 10, the start date of the turnaround.
Leveraging Supply Management
When one vendor ran out of the requested product for the modular offices, the team built the missing inventory specifically for that project.
To cover all needs throughout the 11-week project, Sodexo worked a combined 1,400 hours of overtime across all departments. Most of these hours were provided by the janitorial team, going from five to seven days a week to keep up with the increase in personnel on-site.
Tackling a Special Project with Expertise
The team modified existing refinery infrastructure for the transportation logistics of a 2,500-ton crane mobilization/demobilization. This crane was brought to the site for a specialized 1-million-pound module assembly. To facilitate its site entry, the Sodexo technical team had to take down the truck gate, removing all badge readers and security cameras three times throughout the 11-week period of the turnaround. It took hundreds of 18-wheelers going back and forth to bring all the pieces in.
Despite the significant challenges faced, the team maintained daily service with no additional staff. Their success in accomplishing this enormous project is a testament to their operational excellence.
Tracy Gray is Global Senior Director / Strategy and Retention for Sodexo Energy and Resources.
Sodexo Energy and Resources is a provider of food, facilities management, and operational support services, powering the millions of people who work every day in energy, oil and gas, and mining. Sodexo Energy and Resources offers a comprehensive package of turnaround support services designed to meet the demands of today’s turnaround. We do the heavy lifting of organizing and deploying the turnaround support services you need onsite, from catering to cleaning and maintenance. We believe that good is no longer good enough. So, we are raising the bar on what a strategic partner should be. With 30,000 employees across 600 sites, Sodexo is driving up service standards by empowering our people to excel at ongoing service and support, problem solving and creating a better tomorrow for all.