Assessment & Correction of Severely Unreliable Plant
Large methanol plant built for a JV in Saudi Arabia. Onstream time for the 9 months after initial startup was below 60%. Customer obligations severely impacted, and JV partners threatening the operating partner with lawsuits.
Immediate cause/trigger for most of the downtime incidents was identified as short duration voltage spikes on the external electricity grid. High level discussions with the operator of the transmission lines had resulted in a commitment to address system problems, but it was a 2-year plan.
Something new and more urgent needed to be done to mitigate the situation.
- Attention turned to the question of what were the site and process vulnerabilities to the voltage blips and were there opportunities to mitigate a portion of the problem.
- A team of 4 individuals, each expert in a different technical discipline, was sent to the plant to conduct an assessment.
- Reviews of operating data and interviews with operations staff took a week. The team uncovered 5 major oversights in the Engineering phase of the project which accounted for almost all of the vulnerability to the voltage blips.
- A 3-day shutdown was taken to correct the Engineering oversights under the supervision of the assessment team.
AFTER PLANT RESTART, THE PLANT RAN FOR THE REMAINING 8 MONTHS OF THE YEAR WITH ONSTREAM TIME OF 96+%.