Oil & Gas Industry: Top 5 Challenges in Shutdowns & Turnarounds

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15 August

To maintain production levels and reduce the loss of revenue for the oil and gas industry, effective planning and execution of shutdowns, turnaround and outages is essential, particularly when improper maintenance leads to an unplanned shutdown.

The effects of unplanned shutdowns or changes to schedules can have a significant impact not only on the company operating the facility but also on the wider economy. Check out the top 5 turnaround & shutdown challenges in the oil & gas industry.

1. Lack of Proper Knowledge with Uneducated People

A turnaround is a huge planning effort with many people and their various backgrounds coming together, to perform a complex exercise within a short timeframe. Naturally, this requires a lot of careful planning and problem-solving. Talented as people might be, there is no guarantee that they know how to participate in a turnaround. It is often surprising how few people know their role and how to contribute to a successful turnaround.

#Tip1: Follow the digital developments that are going around in different industries.

#Tip2: Participating in training programs is a great step forward to improve knowledge and experience.

#Tip2: One should never stop learning and exploring, books like Turnaround Shutdown and Outage Management by Tom Lenahan, Logistics by Stephen Thomas always help to stay up-to-date about turnaround & shutdown execution and management.

2. Shortage of Framework

A framework is critical to structure information and share it with other project team members and stakeholders. The lack of frameworks can result in improper planning & performance tracking for turnarounds. One of the reasons of the shortage of framework is the unfitting software tools in use or no tools at all. A framework needs to in place even when a professional software is in place, like Primavera P6 or Cleopatra Enterprise. For example, a work breakdown structure (WBS) is required to properly link a schedule to the budget and plan work packages. Another example of missing frameworks is not having a change management process or project control process captured and strictly followed up. As a result, your ability to steer the turnaround to success dramatically reduces.

#Tip1: Have a decent change management process and digital system in place for a framework.

#Tip2: Develop the framework based on analyzed data by turnaround professionals.

#Tip3: Always conduct a validation of framework from experienced turnaround management implementation professionals to avoid having an improper framework.

3. No Reusing of Information

Accurate, clear & timely information is critical to plan, schedule & manage turnarounds properly. Many organizations do not capture data for future reference, including lessons learned, risk assessments, cost estimate data, standard job packages, etc. This could mean that when you start over every time, you might use information blindly from the last turnaround without knowing how to modify it to the current scenario.

#Tip1: Store all your past turnaround data at one place.

#Tip2: Each turnaround is unique but consists of many recurring scope items. Once you realize this, you will start capturing these standards, it will be easier and more efficient to plan and execute the next turnaround.

#Tip3: Implement a dedicated digital software for analyzing the historical data and collecting the data from your current turnaround projects.

4. Aging Assets

Today, there is an increasing need to make shutdown & maintenance more predictable, efficient & cost-effective. However, this goal becomes a major challenge, especially with aging assets. Facilities that grow older, requires more frequent and expensive maintenance, while management pushes the time between turnarounds to be longer to keep the facilities running as long as possible.

#Tip1: Capture current equipment status from inspections and measurements, it will allow you to apply predictive maintenance. Implementation of digital software makes the process more accurate and time saving.

#Tip2: Optimize the scope of your turnaround for the probability of equipment failure.

#Tip3: When equipment status is unknown, be sure to take enough allowances and continency into account for your estimate and schedule to cover discovered or unforeseen scope.

5. Lack of Young Talents

There are difficulties in attracting young people in turnaround projects. Also, teams are reluctant in hiring young talents, because a turnaround is seen as a critical, difficult project that requires experienced people. Another major issue is that turnaround teams fail to attract women that can help the industry to diversify and implement new perspectives on old problems.

#Tip1: In this digital era, young talents can be trained faster & easily with the help of the knowledge captured and automated systems.

#Tip2: Modern tools and machinery makes the job easier and might even attract people that otherwise would not want to join a turnaround organization.

#Tip3: Many times, young talents are not aware of the open positions in the industry or have the right information about it. Go ahead and post your vacancies online; millennials are active online so they will easily find your jobs on your websites, social media accounts, and social media groups, etc.

What We Offer

Modern technology is the key to solving many challenges that are being faced by shutdown and turnaround professionals. At Cost Engineering, we strive to bring you the state-of-the-art software solution for Total Cost Management: Cleopatra Enterprise. You can plan, estimate, schedule, control and benchmark your turnarounds to bring the data management and usability to the next level.

Next to providing software solutions for turnaround cost management, we offer training at Cost Engineering Academy to help you improve your knowledge and skills about turnaround management, project controls, and work package preparation. These courses are given to you by our own experts with years of turnaround experience.

Our experts can even assist you on your next turnaround by providing turnaround project controls and cost database to make your organization ready for the future.


If you want to know more about the Total Turnaround Management solution of Cost Engineering, Please contact our experts and don’t forget to subscribe for our Newsletter by filling in the short form on the right side of the page.

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