Maintenance solutions Shutdown

Understanding Refinery Turnarounds: How Long Does It Really Take?


For every refinery, a turnaround is an inevitable occurrence that happens every few years. While a refinery turnaround can be a prolonged and expensive process, it is crucial for ensuring the safety and reliability of the equipment in a facility.

If you’re an engineer, frontline worker, or manufacturer, you’ll want to know more about the duration of refinery turnarounds. In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that affect the period of refinery turnarounds and what they entail.

Factors Affecting Refinery Turnaround Duration

Refinery turnarounds can last from two weeks to several months, and the time it takes depends on several factors, such as the extent of maintenance or repairs needed, the size of the refinery, and the complexity of the equipment. A small plant may take less time than a large plant to complete a turnaround. Still, larger refineries with greater equipment complexity may take longer due to the number of activities required in each process unit. It can take six months or more to complete an overall plant overhaul for larger refineries with complex units.

Apart from the size and complexity of a refinery, other factors that affect the duration of refinery turnarounds include weather conditions, the availability of labor, and access to critical equipment. Execute more work in the warmer months of the year and during drought conditions than in colder, wet months. Skilled labor is also essential in planning a refinery turnaround, as significant safety risks may need to be mitigated. Finally, the limited availability of critical equipment could lead to delays during the turnaround period.

Effective Turnaround Planning to Execution

Planning and preparation are significant aspects of a refinery turnaround, as they help minimize the shutdown period’s duration. Up to two years in advance, most refineries prepare for considerable maintenance, even though only one cycle every few years is necessary. During the planning phase, the project team creates a schedule detailing the activities in each unit, performs an extensive equipment inventory, develops feasibility studies, and estimates the potential outage time. This detailed planning and scheduling make the execution phase of the turnaround more efficient and keep the project team on track.

The execution stage of a refinery turnaround occurs after the planning stages when the project team gets down to business. Once the actual shutdown has started, the team may operate on a strict timeline for every unit in the refinery, with each unit undergoing detailed maintenance, checks, and necessary upgrades. A turnaround necessitates precise coordination for technicians working in the same department, and success depends on the appropriate supply of resources.

Though the timeframe for each refinery turnaround varies, the size and complexity of the plant are the key contributors to the duration of the maintenance period.


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