Shutting down an oil refinery that produces 102,000 barrels a day is no mean feat.
Coates Hire, however, is drawing on its experience around the country as this year it helps oil giant BP bring its Bulwer Island refinery in Brisbane offline to help convert it into a multi-product import terminal. The shutdown is part of a trend towards fuel suppliers shifting to larger refineries in Asia.
Safely shutting down process units at the Bulwer Island refinery, built on reclaimed land in the 1960s, involves decommissioning the current refinery and transforming it into a modern terminal.
Brad Macfarquhar, Business Development Manager – Industrial Services at Coates Hire, says such shutdowns are complex, and time and efficiency are of the essence.
“It’s quite specialised and it’s something that has not happened a lot in Australia,” he says. The workplace health and safety requirements on such a high-risk industrial site must also be at the forefront. Everything has to be done with the highest level of safety in mind.”
For the new project Coates Hire will use information gleaned from its recent experience in closing down Caltex’s Kurnell refinery in Sydney, in addition to its other shutdown work at sites such as Fortescue in Western Australia, Caltex in Brisbane. MMG’s Century Mine in Lawn Hill, Queensland, and the NRG power station in Gladstone, Queensland. Coates Hire also has a longstanding relationship with BP, courtesy of running its tools store at the Kwinana refinery in Western Australia.
Coates Hire leads the shutdown market on the strength of its proprietary strategies, methodologies and processes that maximise wrench time, a measure of employee productivity.
Macfarquhar says one of Coates Hire’s major tasks at Bulwer Island will be managing a tools store, with both BP equipment and hire equipment to be included. As staff or workers need tools, the equipment will be scanned out and allocated to the person using them. The company’s tool store system utilises CHASE – the Coates Hire Automated Site Environment management system. The licensed software package was developed to relieve the difficulties associated with issuing and returning tools and equipment in high demand, project site locations.
Macfarquhar says CHASE is crucial to ensuring on-the-job accountability, with the system allocating barcodes for every person and piece of equipment, which ranges from small spanners through to speciality tooling such as torque equipment, mechanical welders, forklifts and rough-terrain scissor lifts.
Such sophisticated analysis of equipment allows Coates Hire to report back to the client on exact usage rates and, critically, forecast demand for equipment.
“It really helps management keep its finger on the pulse as to what’s happening in the tools store, while also driving accountability,” Macfarquhar says.
In the tools store, Coates Hire will have a highly trained five-person team assigned to the job, with two people working in the store each day. The roster can be adjusted depending on the requirements of the site on any given day.
Aside from its experience managing tools stores, Coates Hire prides itself on its ability to remotely set up facilities on a client’s site. In BP’s case, there is the opportunity to set up a mobile tool store at the far end of the site to ensure workers have what they need “right at the coalface”.
Macfarquhar says while most shutdown projects last weeks or a couple of months, the BP conversion at Bulwer Island is slated as a 40-week job, adding to the challenge for the Industrial Services team.
“So from that side of it, as well as the complications of bringing a refinery offline permanently and shutting it down, there’s a lot of experience needed.”
Coates Hire also promises dedicated points of contact to enable BP to streamline communications and ensure the efficiency of the project. Macfarquhar will be the go-to person for planning issues, while Queensland Shutdown Manager, Russell Olofsson works through site operational matters
They will be complemented by a team of experts at Coates Hire with experience in the shutdown environment.
“Because it’s such a high pressure environment it is a very focused and well-trained team,” Macfarquhar says.