With any Petrofac project, the completions and commissioning phase is complex and can be fraught.
Through a systematic series of rigorous tests, every single facet of the project, including each of the mechanical, electrical and process systems, is scrutinised and checked to verify that the facility is ready to be put into operation.
A MOMENT OF TRUTH
You could also describe it as a moment of truth.
It is only at this point that you can be entirely sure about the quality of the work that has gone into the project – and the need for any final modifications and repairs is revealed.
With the Ghazeer project, there was an extra element of complexity – and anxiety – in that the commissioning coincided with the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that it became difficult for Petrofac’s own completions specialists to travel in and out of Oman. It also made it difficult for vendor representatives to test and certify the respective systems and technologies they had provided.
So, from the commissioning perspective, what set this project apart? And how were the challenges of Covid-19 overcome?
THE HANDOVER IS A CRITICAL PHASE OF ANY PROJECT. USUALLY, IT MARKS THE CULMINATION OF SEVERAL YEARS OF PLANNING AND HARD WORK. AND IT IS THE COMMISSIONING AND COMPLETIONS TEAMS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR VERIFYING THAT EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE, AND THE PROJECT IS READY TO BE PUT INTO OPERATION. WITH THE COMMISSIONING OF THE GHAZEER PHASE 2 PROJECT IN OMAN, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC BROUGHT AN EXTRA LAYER OF COMPLEXITY. PETROFACTS SPOKE TO SEVERAL OF THE KEY PLAYERS TO FIND OUT MORE
HOW WE WORK
WORDS PETER HALLIDAY
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2020
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
One of the defining characteristics was the way commissioning fitted into the wider workflows.
“We treated construction and commissioning, not as two separate tasks, but as one integrated activity. And this, for me, was one of the keys to success,” explains Construction Director Mohamed Shaheen. “The approach was for construction to complete one entire section of the project, and move to the next, and for commissioning to move right in behind them. Everyday, they were working hand-in-hand and I am convinced this contributed to the quality of the workmanship.”
And, yes, the quality of the work and the resulting ease of the commissioning were a hallmark of the project. For example, several of the welders achieved more than 1,000 repair-free joints, which is remarkable, especially when working with complex stainless and duplex steel systems. Overall, the weld repair rate was just 0.77%, which is way below industry benchmarks. And the commissioning teams detected minimal leaks across the entire site.
“As the work was progressing, I suspected we were hitting unusually high levels of quality. But, when the tests were run, the true quality was above my expectations. I was astonished,” Mohamed continues.
WE STARTED THINKING ‘WHAT IF?’
Another key to success was future planning.
“We started to take Covid-19 quite seriously back in early-February. It was still a long way from becoming a global pandemic, but we started thinking ‘What if?’, and we began work on a risk mitigation plan,” explains Deputy Project Director Bahram Chweich. “We understood that, if international travel were to be disrupted, it could cause major delays, so we started thinking about contingencies.”
The critical consideration here was that, for certain process systems, technical systems and electrical systems, the commissioning and certification needed to be handled by the respective vendors – not just by Petrofac.
“We went through the test packages one by one and we worked out: What is the priority? What is the complexity? What can we do without the vendor present? What can’t we do without the vendor present?” continues Bahram. “And we stepped up our vendor engagement accordingly.”
In some instances, a vendor was still onsite for the installation of their systems, so they were persuaded to stay on until the commissioning could be completed. Sometimes, an international vendor had a local representative who could be guided through the steps supported by subject matter experts located elsewhere. Often, using digital tools like Skype or Teams, it was possible for the vendor to talk Petrofac’s own people through the process. But, for certain systems, it was necessary to get specialists onsite.
“For everyone, this was uncharted territory, requiring innovative and pragmatic solutions. But there was an incredible collective determination to find a way through.”
BRINGING PEOPLE TO THE SAFEST PLACE ON THE PLANET
An important breakthrough came when the team discovered that bp was planning to charter some flights to bring their own operations teams into Oman. And, with the type of close cooperation that typified the entire project, it was agreed that some seats could be allocated to Petrofac.
“It was an interesting planning exercise,” continues Bahram. “Every vendor company had its own policies for international travel. Every source country had its own regulations to abide by. Oman was in full lockdown for much of the time. And, for everyone, this was uncharted territory, requiring innovative and pragmatic solutions. But there was an incredible collective determination to find a way through.”
“If it could be done without the vendor physically present, we made it happen. If it couldn’t be done, we found a way to get the vendor here, we convinced them that the travel would be safe and our site would remain Covid-free. We often said, don’t worry, right now Ghazeer is the safest place on the planet.”