Another successful plant shutdown
No effort was spared to achieve the objectives set: the maintenance and repair work for the CPF, Pad and Gathering installations and Facilities, as well as tasks at the EPF and the replacement of the Flare Tip.
The first meetings to plan the shutdown were held in June to start identifying priorities and responsibilities. There were many departments involved, requiring the seamless integration of almost all the areas working in the region, from HSE, Facilities, Plants, Production and Commissioning to General Services and RRLL, among others. The new plant shutdown began to take shape, envisaging a total period of seven days, running from November 4 to 10.
Both the CPF (Central Processing Facility) and the EPF (Early Processing Facility) were being prepared in readiness for the next winter season, which shows every sign of being a tough one. “We planned this shutdown so we could improve issues which had to do with the integrity of the plants and processes. We were able to work on maintenance and security systems and we performed functional tests with the aim of ensuring the plant is totally reliable,” explained Pablo Doria, Gas Plant Manager.
Maximiliano Martel, the Lead Engineer for Maintenance Engineering, added that, “These were an intense seven days during which we did all the tasks that can’t be carried out when the plants are in operation. We worked around the clock. Our area coordinated all the specialties involved and acted as the intermediary between the different departments, meeting different needs as they arose and articulating the handling of permits, work orders, and materials. We also supervised the completion of each set of tasks.”
All kinds of equipment were involved in the process, including cranes, opening and cleaning the KOD and Slug Catcher, carrying out the maintenance tasks and cleaning the circuits. Then they changed the Flare Tip, incorporated coalescing filters, calibrated the safety valves and carried out the full raft of inspection tasks to check integrity and maintenance as well as inspect the LTS1, among others.
The numbers were themselves impressive: five hundred people were involved between Tecpetrol operators and contractor companies. The plant shutdown lasted 178 hours, involving almost 20,000 labor hours of around-the-clock work. To handle this volume, General Services (SERGE), managed the increased needs for accommodation, food and hydration, a vital issue as there were days when the temperature hit 38 degrees. After the exercise was completed, a tired but satisfied Teófilo Vignoles, General Services Lead Supervisor, said, “We’re delighted with the result. Not only were we able to handle extra people in the camp, in our dining areas and manage all the demands of the hydration stations, but we also learned many things during the process. Above all, the key point is that it everything went smoothly."
Claudia Chávez, the Plant Manager at Fortín de Piedra, summarized the activity in her area: "From Operations we focused on creating the best possible conditions and ensuring safety throughout so that the tasks could be executed properly."
“The movement in the plant was massive on so many fronts. We worked double shifts, side by side with Facilities. But we managed to finish our work without any incidents and according to plan,” said José Chazarreta, HSE Lead Supervisor, proudly, emphasizing the lengths they went to in order to look after people, the number one priority for Tecpetrol.
One of the new tasks undertaken this time, never before performed in previous shutdowns, was the general cleanup of the MEG system. As Marcelo Alcantu, a Chemical Treatment Junior Engineer, put it, "We left the system in conditions for a correct startup of the Plant."
Processes, tasks, procedures and calculations. Projections and numbers that dovetailed almost to perfection. Even so, the most important asset in this entire shutdown process was the same as always: the people. "You see so much pride and joy on the faces of all our employees, and that helps to make our team stronger and more united," said Guillermo Canale, Plant Facilities Manager. Joaquín Pérez, Facilities Specialist, agreed that, "We encountered a few setbacks, especially with the weather, but thanks to the professional attitude taken by the contractors and operators, we were able to take them in our stride."
After seven intense days and nights, the cranes, blockades and equipment were taken away and everything was ready for the off. While the surrounding landscape remained unchanged, the CPF and EPF were put back into operation. Another successful plant shutdown had concluded, the most extensive to-date, and an essential step in preparing to meet the demands of what lies next.