Oil & Gas

Interview with Tom Lenahan

Written by: Fleming. Team

Europe Oil & Gas

Advanced Shutdown & Turnaround Management Level II

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1. With the current situation on the oil & gas market (prices dropping), do you think it will affect the way companies plan and execute shutdowns and turnarounds and it what way?

TL: It depends on the industry sector. Process industries have been on tight profit margins for many years - they had to become more efficient at Turnarounds so the downturn in oil prices won't affect them as much. The oil industry in general, is less efficient at Turnarounds - one reason is that they have had a lot more to spend on Turnarounds - the counterintuitive effect is that they seem to have become less efficient over the last decade. Now that money is tight, they will have to improve Turnaround performance especially in the are of duration - every day off line is a day's profit lost.

2. Looking to the future, what new technologies (if any) do you expect to be implemented? What new trends should companies follow, for example in terms of new equipment etc.?

TL: Turnarounds have a significant impact on business. The ultimate aim of any company should be to elimination of Turnarounds - failing this, they should be aiming to increase the period between Turnarounds and minimise the Turnaround work-scopes. To do this, one of thing they need to explore and exploit is the new and not-so-new technologies (and there are many of them) that allow non-intrusive inspection of equipment internals which, using traditional techniques normally accounts for the greater part of Turnaround work-scopes (because equipment has to be taken offline and stripped down to allow inspection. It would be interesting to do a survey of a the internal inspections carried out over the last few years (many unnecessary. If these were costed and the figures were published it would certainly raise the awareness of companies as to how much money they are potentially wasting.

3. From your perspective, what was the most interesting project you have worked on during your career? What were the biggest challenges?

TL: I have to say that the most interesting was not the most successful. It was a coal gassifcation Ammonia plant - it was a completely unfamiliar technology. The "plant" consisted of a Coal Mine, a Railway System, a Coal Crushing Plant. A Coal Burning Plant (where it is burned with hydrogen and then precipitated to form crude ammonia, an Ammonia Refining Plant and a Urea plant with a large storage and distribution plant. That was a challenge because of its size and complexity and because there was an acute shortage of skilled labour and there were many other challenges that you would not normally encounter. But you know what - those are the Turnarounds where you learn your trade in detail.

4. Which module on your training programme do you consider the most effective during turnaround execution?

TL: It would be nice to be able to point to one module and say - that is the most significant, but that is not possible - its all very important. We embody that fact is our motto "To succeed you have to get everything right but you only have to get one thing wrong to fail."