Global engineering specialist solutions provider Kentz is undertaking its biggest-ever refinery maintenance shutdown at the Natref refinery in Sasolburg, this year.
The company notes that the petrochemicals facility will be completely shut down for maintenance purposes, which is rare, compared with the conventional sectional shutdowns usually performed each year.
Kentz says this is an exciting and high-profile contract, as this type of complete shutdown is only performed about once every 20 years.
Natref South Africa, a joint venture between petrochemicals firms Sasol Oil, which holds a 63.64% stake and Total South Africa, which owns the remaining 36.36%, is said to undertake the shutdown to rebuild the utilities system and the crude distillation and platformer units.
During the refinerywide shutdown, the facility will simultaneously undergo as much maintenance work as possible, which is not usually the case during a routine maintenance shutdown.
Kentz maintenance and shutdowns global business unit manager Carlo Marengo tells Engineering News that the company signed a five-year term agreement with Natref in February 2011, which facilitated the negotiation of the refinery shutdown contract.
The shutdown process undertaken by Kentz this year includes two contracts – that of scope development, planning and preparation, as well as the main shutdown.
Kentz is working with Natref on the scope development, planning and preparation to establish what will be done and how it will be done on site.
The second contract will entail a turnkey shutdown programme, which includes mechanical, piping, structural and electrical instrumentation upgrades, as well as maintenance.
The scope development, planning and preparation contract started in February and will be completed by the end of this month.
The second contract entails the refinery being shut down entirely for about 40 consecutive days. The shutdown will start in the second week of October and will be completed by the third week of November, says Marengo.
He adds that, although the contract is still in negotiation, about 2 000 people will be mobilised on the shutdown project.
Marengo says Kentz will strive towards achieving a safe and schedule-compliant shutdown at the refinery, which will maintain and ensure its already strong client relationship with Natref.
Kentz has worked with Natref since 2007 and has completed a number of yearly shutdowns. This has cemented a strong working relationship built on close alignment of business objectives focused around safety, plant integrity and schedule-compliance and has further enabled Kentz to grow its service offering and work with other business units from within the Sasol Oil group.
Maintenance and shutdown contracts at refineries tend to be awarded on a long-term basis rather than a short-term basis, notes Marengo.
Long-term contracts not only establish a sustainable relationship between client and contractor but also result in greater rewards for both parties when individual needs and objectives are understood.
Marengo says in the shutdown services industry, flexibility and responsiveness are key to meeting client’s requirements. In response to this, Kentz has developed a unique set of systems to fast-track the execution of this type of work.
As a result, Kentz has built a reputation in completing planned, unplanned and emergency shutdown work in all the crude oil and noncrude oil petrochemicals facilities in South Africa, including Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Durban, Secunda and Sasolburg.
Flexibility is also key in securing the long-term contracts, as clients expect the contractor to respond to the call of duty when required, he adds.
Besides undertaking work for petroleum group Engen and at its 180 000 bl/d Sapref refinery, the service provider simultaneously completed a shutdown, in February, for multinational energy corporation Chevron’s refinery, in Cape Town.
Its noncrude oil work included a multidisciplinary shutdown at national oil company PetroSA’s gas-to-liquids facilities, in Mossel Bay, in September 2009. It is also undertaking the planning and preparation for a turnkey shutdown at the facility in October.
Further, Kentz is providing services for Sasol’s coal-to- liquids facilities, in Secunda. The engineering contractor predominantly undertakes mechanical shutdown work at the facilities.
Marengo says the company’s staff numbers for shutdown works at the Sasol facilities in Secunda are expected to peak at about 2 500 people in September.
Kentz Africa construction director Joseph Keogh attributes the company’s strong and longstanding relationship with Sasol to its involvement in constructing the Sasol 2 and Sasol 3 sites in the 1980s.
He adds that Kentz is also on Sasol’s major project roll-out team for the Sasol wax expansion project in Sasolburg.
The R8.4-billion wax expansion project at the Sasol 1 site forms part of the larger Sasol expansion programme, which is estimated to cost R14-billion.
The first phase of the project will come into operation in 2012 and construction of the second phase is planned to start in 2014.
Keogh says Kentz, which will undertake structural, mechanical and electrical instrumentation work, has already been awarded contracts with a significant combined value.
He adds that a milestone was achieved by the solutions provider at the Sasol wax expansion project because it had reached one-million lost-time injury-free hours on the project in June.
Kentz intends to develop its shutdown business globally.
Kentz’ growth strategy entails extending the services it is currently providing to its clients in South Africa and building on its relationships with existing clients through the organic growth opportunities they offer.
“As refineries age, the facilities require more maintenance and, as refiners grow their business, the scope of the services they require usually increases. This is where contractors like Kentz are able to organically grow and expand naturally with the client,” explains Marengo.
Kentz’ growth strategy in South Africa also focuses on the legislated move to the Clean Fuels 2 specifications by 2017.
The Clean Fuels 2 specifications aim to reduce the aromatic and benzene content of petrol and include the reduction of sulphur from 500 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm and the lowering of benzene from 5% to 1% of volume, to be in line with Euro 4 emission standards for petrol and diesel.
Kentz will target the Sapref, Natref, Chevron and Sasol refineries should they decide to upgrade their facilities to be in line with the new specifications.
“The technology we currently supply to some refineries, which debottlenecks and streamlines the refinery process, is in line with the clean fuel legislation and should stand us in good stead to achieve our goal of targeting other local refineries,” concludes Keogh.