South Africa’s second-largest oil refinery, Engen Refinery (Enref), in Durban, has undergone a planned maintenance outage that was completed last month. The outage started on July 9 and, on August 8, Enref’s mainstream units were fully online, while the remaining units underwent a staggered start-up from August 10 to 30.
Enref delivers a significant portion of South Africa’s fuel requirements, processing up to 125 000 bbl/d of crude oil. The plant has a wide product pallet that includes automotive, industrial, aviation and marine fuels, bitumen, lubricants, as well as a range of chemicals and solvents.
Maintenance is a statutory inspection requirement that involves the opening, cleaning, inspection and repair of large volumes of equipment, says Enref lead turnaround planner Sundress Naidoo.
Maintenance includes statutory inspection, removing and replacing catalysts, piping and vessel repairs, and removing old equipment. Naidoo says other equipment is enhanced through equipment modification.
Enref GM Jehan Zaib notes that the company conducts a maintenance outage every year and conducts a full turnaround every three years. “Routine shutdowns are essential for the safe and reliable operation of the facility, which is essential in ensuring security of product supply for the country,” he says.
To ensure minimal impact on fuel supply, South Africa’s competing fuel producers confer about their maintenance schedules to provide a steady supply of fuel during the various outages, to ensure that there is surplus stock for the duration of the maintenance outage.
“Further, to ensure that we complete a maintenance outage on time and in full, there is increased traffic in the area as suppliers and contractors service the refinery. “We, however, do our utmost to keep any disruption to a minimum and have detailed planning schedules to mitigate any potential access and capacity issues,” explains Zaib.
He adds that yearly shutdowns assist Enref with its mission of continuing its anchoring job of supplying fuel and supporting economic activity.
Enref employs decontamination processes to clean the refinery’s various pipelines. In terms of technology for this maintenance outage, Engen upgraded to recognised high-performance project- management software Primevera P6, which has become standard practice in the industry.
Naidoo notes that a challenge faced throughout the maintenance conducted in July included an increase in the scope of work to be completed, as well as adverse weather. This, however, did not affect the maintenance schedule as Enref mitigated this challenge by identifying the most critical areas of required maintenance and allocating additional resources accordingly to adhere to the schedule.
Meanwhile, Naidoo says Enref will continue to engage with and invest in the local south Durban community through various social investment initiatives, in addition to its continued long-standing support of four Engen maths and science schools in the area, as well as the community orientated Engen Computer School.
“Moreover, in the coming months, we will establish a science lab and mobile library at two local schools and install fencing at another school. Engen will also make a cash donation to the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital,” concludes Naidoo.