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Wide angle fisheye view of a large FPSO type oil rig.

Optimising FPSO maintenance by taking a risk-based approach.

A typical FPSO can be performing up to 40% of unnecessary maintenance because they are unable to quantify the effect of extending maintenance intervals.

In an environment that merges both energy and marine assets, FPSO operations are hugely complex. Balancing OEM maintenance guidelines alongside flag, class and country regulations is exceptionally challenging. Additionally, the current climate means that FPSO operators are under more pressure than ever to manage costs and prioritise maintenance activities that reduce risks.

Yet in a typical FPSO, we are seeing operators performing up to 40% of unnecessary maintenance. These unneeded maintenance activities represent an investment of, on average, 500 man hours per specific equipment group. These activities can often add to the facility risk profile by generating an increasing backlog and inappropriately targeting resources and cost.

The maintenance roadblock.

Many FPSO operators are struggling to design a consistent maintenance strategy across their equipment groups, systems or even production units - often each equipment group has its own maintenance strategy, and best practices are not shared. They are also carrying out unnecessary maintenance because they are unable to qualify whether the maintenance activities they are performing are important; they purely tend to follow the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) guidelines. However simply implementing manufacturers' advice prevents companies from optimising their maintenance strategy and, as a result, can lead to a backlog of maintenance activities that are not addressing the main problem for operators - preventing failures and preserving facility uptime. In addition, maintenance strategies that are based solely on OEM guidelines will fail to account for the ever changing nature of offshore operations. This creates a maintenance burden which typically remains constant over the asset life, without taking into consideration, for example, the variable production rates of reservoirs.

Consider that a typical upstream offshore platform may have 50,000 tags - if you estimate an asset life of 25 years this would generate work-orders in the vicinity of 750,000 activities and 9,000,000 manhours of work - equating to a total maintenance expenditure of around £2 billion. Potential savings are significant - a saving of just 1% would represent approximately £500,000 saved every year.

There is also a perception that implementing the very methodologies that can help optimise maintenance activities is time consuming, complex, cumbersome and costly, which puts off potential users. But this drives a vicious circle - companies that do not have a systematic maintenance strategy can only focus on putting out fires - but if you are always putting out fires, you do not have time to design a systematic, informed and optimised maintenance strategy.

The price of unnecessary maintenance

We all know that performing unnecessary maintenance has a negative impact from both a financial and resourcing perspective. However, there is a further consequence that is even more damaging - limited resources will be locked up with maintenance activities that are not actually reducing the risk of failures. This means maintenance engineers are constantly fighting a backlog of tasks that are not necessarily helping to increase the availability and reliability of your system. Of even greater concern, this might even be introducing more failures for some equipment items.

Finally, unplanned shutdowns, or failures, create a lot of uncertainty. So, by performing maintenance activities that do not affect your risk profile, you are not removing any imminent failure which could directly impact your ability to meet production or contractual commitments. The scale of this issue grows significantly depending on the number of equipment items being taken into account.

Taking a risk-based approach

Taking a risk-based approach to maintenance empowers FPSO operators to design a consistent maintenance strategy and prioritise the most critical activities based on engineering evidence. The result - a manageable maintenance backlog that enables you to address failures that will have the highest consequence from a safety and economic perspective. By understanding the balance between the cost of failure and the cost of maintenance, you can focus the right resources on the right equipment at the right time.

Breaking the fire-fighting cycle

To break the fire-fighting cycle, FPSO operators need to invest time in developing best-in-class maintenance strategies that can be re-used across the entire platform. By aggregating the most appropriate maintenance activities for a particular equipment group, they can begin to deploy a strategy that is, at least, consistent. This best-in-class strategy is further enhanced by accounting for the operational condition of each equipment item which it is being associated. This process can be repeated for different equipment groups heading to, ultimately, an optimised maintenance strategy across the platform. Once the maintenance activities have been selected, the next step is to determine the frequency of these activities. An evidence-based statistical methodology can be used to validate and optimise maintenance intervals based on your own reliability data.

A modern Asset Performance Management platform, such as AllAssets, will allow you to quickly design and implement a systematic, best in class maintenance strategy by enabling you to utilise preconfigured industry standard models. These can then easily be adapted to your unique operating conditions, making it much faster to identify insights and accelerate value. If your in-house data is sufficient, you can also capitalise on your existing EAM data to create your own maintenance strategy models using purpose built model builder tools. The final step, after defining the right maintenance activities, is to validate or optimise the maintenance intervals using your reliability data combined with a maintenance optimisation methodology to tune maintenance intervals to your actual operating conditions - enabling you to eliminate unnecessary maintenance, reduce costs and improve operating performance while achieving greater safety and environmental integrity.

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