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How we helped an oil & gas conglomerate improve the efficiency of its oil refinery and achieve millions in savings

May 19, 2023 | Organisational Effectiveness

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Improving the efficiency and margin of oil refineries can help oil and gas companies gain a competitive advantage by attracting more customers and increasing market share. It can also help them increase profit margins by generating higher profits from the same volume of crude oil processed.

Additionally, it demonstrates environmental responsibility, mitigates operational risks, and ensures long-term viability by positioning the company for a transition to cleaner energy sources.

Our client owns and operates an oil refinery located in North America. The 1,400-acre facility was established in 1889. With a crude processing capacity of over 400,000 barrels per day, it is the sixth largest refinery in the United States. The facility produces a wide range of liquid fuels, along with 7% of all asphalt in the United States.

The client lagged the upstream business in the development and installation of consistent maintenance work management processes (MWP) and discipline. They wanted to develop and implement a set of MWP within and across the refinery, but lacked the internal capacity and expertise to properly execute it.

We were selected to help them achieve this goal based on our lengthy experience in maintenance processes and systems, as well as our long history of working with the client on similar processes before.

Project Approach

Our patented Focus Process® formed the core element in identifying significant areas of value and savings associated with implementing effective and consistent maintenance processes and work management.

The Focus process identified 5 workstreams:

  1. Materials Management
  2. Contractor Management
  3. Identify and Validate
  4. Planning and Scheduling
  5. Execution and Closure

Each workstream was supported by a dedicated management action team (MAT) throughout a nine-month implementation. The MATs were organized through a robust governance process that not only connected all of the teams, but also connected the work at the refinery floor to the refinery — and to central corporate leadership.

Project Implementation

We extensively mapped every component of maintenance work management, including material and contractor management. Once that was complete, key refinery personnel reviewed each process to ensure that the processes were captured accurately, identifying areas of weakness, bottleneck, or concern.

Each MAT then specifically identified and implemented the following actions:

    – Implemented quality notification standards
    – Installed job aids
    – Implemented KPI dashboards
    – Implemented an identification management control system (MCS) 
    – Assessed the notification backlog for risk and cleansed overdues
    – Implemented the validation meeting terms of reference (ToR)
    – Installed job aids for SCW, LCW, BSD/BFD and risk prioritisation
    – Implemented a break-in notification management process 
    – Updated roles and responsibilities for various leadership roles 
    – Planner fundamental training
    – Implemented a backlog management process ToR and meeting effectiveness scoring
    – Implemented self-verification/feedback to improve planning quality
    – Installed planning quality standards and processes
    – Implemented site walk-down, work pack and work pack release checklists 
    – Implemented ToRs for 4-week and 1-week commitment
    – Meetings and meeting effectiveness auditing
    – Developed 1-Week work readiness criteria
    – Implemented processes for root cause analysis (RCA)
    – Developed a scheduling MCS 
    – Implement daily work review templates to enable the capture of planner feedback, actual time and non-attainment codes
    – Implemented meeting effectiveness audits
    – Developed job aids
    – Implemented dashboards for backlogs and MO performance 
    – Created strategy guidelines document
    – Developed three-year strategy (approved with stakeholders from all operating functions) 
    – Developed a set of contractor management metrics
    – Developed contractor management critical meeting ToRs
    – Designed an approach to improve NCR and CO usage 
    – Redesigned the organisation
    – Developed operational meetings and KPIs
    – Updated processes to reflect work management priorities
    – Installed material status dashboards 

Key Results 

US$1.5 million

of in-project savings

US$36.48 million

in business improvement plan benefits


reduction in aged notification backlog


reduction in validation cycle time


increase in in corrective task list creation


improvement in planned daily maintenance orders

By the end of the project, new and accepted work management processes had been developed and implemented across the refinery. Project KPIs showed not only significant financial benefits already experienced in-year but also significant efficiency improvements and refinery risk reduction.

We were successful in realising the client’s goals, development, adoption, and implementation of refinery-wide work management processes… not only the client’s satisfaction, but to their delight. But that was just the beginning.

The work we accomplished at this refinery — realised through a combination of proven methodologies and was subsequently tagged as the template for all other refineries owned by the client globally.

Further Reading

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