Skip to content
Home » Blog » Turnaround in Refineries: Planning, Safety and Risk Management.

Turnaround in Refineries: Planning, Safety and Risk Management.

The Turnaround in a Refinery: Planning, Preparation, and Training for Success

During my collaboration with Mr. Giuseppe Ricciardetto, an expert engineer in project management in the Oil & Gas sector, as well as an expert in Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) plant maintenance, I have learned the crucial importance of the turnaround in a refinery, along with the effectiveness of planning, preparation, and training for its success.

The “turnaround” is a planned and temporary suspension of operations in a refinery, also known as a “shutdown” or “scheduled maintenance shutdown.” During this period, production processes are halted, and equipment is taken offline for inspections, maintenance, repairs, and sometimes upgrades.

The reasons for this planned suspension are fundamental to ensure the proper functioning of the refinery. Over time, equipment can experience wear, corrosion, and damage, and the turnaround provides an opportunity to address such issues proactively, ensuring reliability, safety, and compliance with regulations.

The main objectives of a turnaround include:

  1. Inspection and Maintenance: During this phase, thorough inspections are conducted on key elements such as reactors, heat exchangers, pumps, and pipelines to identify signs of damage or degradation. Any necessary repairs or replacements are carried out to restore equipment performance and integrity.
  1. Safety Enhancements: Safety is a priority in a refinery, and the turnaround is an opportunity to implement updates and modifications to adhere to safety standards and the latest regulations, ensuring the protection of personnel and the surrounding environment.
  1. Optimization and Efficiency: The turnaround may involve process changes or technology upgrades to improve refinery efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and comply with environmental regulations.
  1. Regulatory Compliance: During turnarounds, compliance issues are addressed to ensure adherence to strict environmental and safety regulations.
  1. Costs and Planning: Accurate planning is essential to optimize resource utilization, reduce costs, and minimize downtime, allowing the refinery to resume operations as quickly as possible.

The turnaround can be a complex challenge that requires effective coordination among various departments, contractors, and suppliers. It is a critical moment where planning, preparation, and training play a fundamental role in the operation’s success.

Personnel involved in the turnaround are exposed to various risks, such as chemicals and gases, making the use of both personal and collective protective equipment essential, along with comprehensive safety training. It should be noted that during these operations, there is an increase in personnel, including contractors, agency workers, and temporary laborers, which can double or even triple the workforce.

Furthermore, access to confined spaces during the turnaround requires careful risk management and rigorous safety protocols to ensure personnel safety.

If these risks are not effectively addressed, the consequences can be severe. This could lead to accidents or dangerous situations endangering the well-being and safety of workers and may result in serious regulatory violations. Additionally, exceeding budget limits and project completion delays can have significant financial implications for the refinery. Moreover, the organization’s image may suffer due to negative public perception, increased regulatory scrutiny, and potential environmental impacts.

Therefore, it is of paramount importance for refineries and subcontracting companies to pay utmost attention to comprehensive risk management strategies, including rigorous safety protocols, in-depth training programs, careful contractor supervision, and effective communication channels.

I would like to thank Mr. Giuseppe Ricciardetto for this interview and the wealth of experience gained during these operations.

Daniele Coloca

Founder & Executive Manager EREB31 International