Downstream analytics can help reduce safety risks and costs
CALGARY, Aug. 24 2017 /CNW/ - The sustained lower price of oil means operators at Canadian upgraders and refineries will continue to see reduced budgets for maintenance over the coming years, according to EY's recent report, Evolving asset challenges and opportunities in Canada's oil and gas downstream sector. With aging equipment to boot, they're forced to find new ways to reduce costs without compromising safety, including through data analytics.
"In EY's study, we found that 86% of respondents use real-time monitoring sensors and software to collect and analyse data, as opposed to manual measurement," says Lance Mortlock, EY Canada's Strategy Advisory Services Leader for oil and gas. "However, many operators are still risk averse in implementing new technology or processes."
Through data analytics, upgraders and refiners can predict the best time to schedule maintenance. In fact, 43% of survey respondents said the primary driver of their critical equipment servicing was driven by analytics. The benefits of adopting this approach include: fewer outages, higher availability of skilled personnel trained to maintain specialized equipment, and a lower risk to safety.
The people advantage
Beyond data analytics, operators rely less on original equipment manufacturers to maintain and repair critical equipment and reduce downtime. Seventy-one percent of respondents say they are using in-house support to repair equipment, followed by 29% using local unions and 14% using third-party contractors.
"Diversifying who's involved in the initial response protocol for unscheduled maintenance by looking beyond the original equipment manufacturer can mean real cost savings," says Mortlock. "Increasingly, companies are looking within because they already have paid staff familiar with their facilities and trained to solve issues safely."
People have a significant impact on the success of planned turnarounds. Nearly one-third (29%) of respondents cite lack of manpower and expertise as a reason for turnaround budget and schedule overruns. Ironically, the most common reason for overruns – cited by 71% of respondents – is a reduced maintenance budget. Despite the increased pressure to hold off, 29% of respondents indicated they would not defer maintenance to save costs.
"While we're seeing operators squeeze more out of their tighter budgets, there's room to implement more leading practices for fewer outages, high availability and lower risk to safety," highlights Mortlock. "Collecting and using better data, as well as employing and retaining a consistent workforce are two key areas for improvement."
EY's report outlines four leading practices for operators to implement:
- Reduce and simplify the scope of planned turnarounds
- Employ or retain a consistent workforce
- Perform routine inspections and act on issues identified in a shorter time frame
- Utilize data and technology to learn more about facility assets
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