How Saudi Aramco Accelerated the Startup of Its Jazan Refinery Complex

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, has recently completed the construction of its Jazan refinery complex, a mega-project that aims to boost the economic development of the Jazan region in Saudi Arabia. The complex consists of a 400,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery, an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, and a marine terminal. The refinery produces high-value products such as gasoline, ultra-low-sulfur diesel, benzene, and paraxylene, while the IGCC plant generates up to 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of power and industrial gases.

However, building such a complex facility in a remote location posed many challenges for Saudi Aramco, especially in terms of startup and commissioning. The company had to overcome several technical, logistical, and operational hurdles to ensure a safe and smooth startup of the complex. In this article, we will explore how Saudi Aramco adopted an innovative approach to accelerating the startup of its Jazan refinery complex, using advanced technologies, smart solutions, and best practices.

A Novel Approach to Startup Acceleration

Saudi Aramco realized that the conventional approach to startup and commissioning, which involves sequential testing and verification of individual units and systems, would not be sufficient for the Jazan refinery complex, given its size, complexity, and location. Therefore, the company decided to adopt a novel approach to startup acceleration, which involved parallel testing and verification of multiple units and systems, using digital tools, simulation models, and remote support.

The company leveraged its digital transformation program, which aims to enhance its operational efficiency, reliability, and safety, to enable the accelerated startup of the Jazan refinery complex. Some of the digital tools and solutions that Saudi Aramco used include:

  • Digital twin: A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset, system, or process, that can be used to monitor, analyze, and optimize its performance. Saudi Aramco created a digital twin of the Jazan refinery complex, using data from sensors, control systems, and engineering models, to simulate the startup scenarios, identify potential issues, and optimize the startup sequence. The digital twin also helped the company to train the operators and engineers on the startup procedures, using a realistic and interactive environment.
  • Remote support: Remote support is a service that allows experts to provide assistance and guidance to the onsite personnel, using communication and collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, screen sharing, and augmented reality. Saudi Aramco used remote support to connect the Jazan refinery complex with its headquarters and other facilities, where experienced engineers and specialists could monitor the startup progress, troubleshoot problems, and share best practices. The remote support also reduced the need for physical travel and enhanced the safety and efficiency of the startup operations.
  • Smart devices: Smart devices are devices that can connect to the internet and exchange data with other devices, systems, or platforms, using wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular networks. Saudi Aramco equipped the Jazan refinery complex with smart devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and wearable devices, to enable the onsite personnel to access real-time data, instructions, and alerts, as well as to communicate and collaborate with the remote experts. The smart devices also improved the mobility and productivity of the onsite personnel, as they could perform their tasks without being tied to a fixed workstation.

The Benefits of Startup Acceleration

By adopting the innovative approach to startup acceleration, Saudi Aramco was able to achieve several benefits, such as:

  • Reduced startup time: Saudi Aramco was able to reduce the startup time of the Jazan refinery complex by about 30%, compared to the conventional approach, by testing and verifying multiple units and systems in parallel, using the digital twin, remote support, and smart devices. This enabled the company to meet its production targets and deadlines, as well as to save time and resources.
  • Increased startup reliability: Saudi Aramco was able to increase the startup reliability of the Jazan refinery complex by about 40%, compared to the conventional approach, by identifying and resolving potential issues, using the digital twin, remote support, and smart devices. This enabled the company to avoid startup failures, delays, and rework, as well as to ensure the quality and safety of the products and processes.
  • Enhanced startup safety: Saudi Aramco was able to enhance the startup safety of the Jazan refinery complex by about 50%, compared to the conventional approach, by minimizing the exposure and risk of the onsite personnel, using the digital twin, remote support, and smart devices. This enabled the company to prevent accidents, injuries, and incidents, as well as to protect the environment and the community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *