Plant owners of the Chemical Processing Industry (CPI) have consistently put an increased emphasis on predictive and preventive maintenance spending as part of an effort to increase equipment service life and reduce the number of costly equipment replacements. Of course, many other benefits of routine maintenance exist, including a decrease in emissions and leaks as a result of better performance, as well as greater operating efficiencies. Many of the maintenance projects in the CPI require plant downtime to access pressurized piping, heated vessels and critical equipment that either stops production downstream or disrupts the availability of requirements such as steam or power.

Click to view Chart - 2008 North American Chemical Processing Industry Maintenance Turnarounds Click on the image at right for a month-by-month breakdown of 2008 CPI maintenance turnarounds based on currently active projects.

Earlier this year, Industrial Info reported that planned CPI plant maintenance turnarounds planned for 2008 had already exceeded that of last year. Based on currently active projects identified as part of the
North American Project Database, more than 220 maintenance turnarounds are planned at CPI plants during the second half of this year, with an estimated value of $521 million. This is a 17 percent increase in turnaround activity over the first half of the year, with a slight increase of $8 million in spending.

At least four of the turnarounds planned for the remainder of this year will be ethylene units in Texas, Louisiana and Alberta. Ethylene units generally have major turnarounds about every five to seven years depending on their technology and dependencies, so opportunities for equipment and service providers is significant when these turnarounds occur.

The largest individual turnarounds planned during the remainder of the year include the nearly 30-day turnaround of a low density polyethylene unit located in Baytown, Texas, owned by Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC (The Woodlands, Texas), a joint subsidiary of
Chevron Corporation (San Ramon, Calif.) and ConocoPhilips (Houston). Sterling Chemicals Incorporated (Houston) is planning a three to four-week maintenance turnaround of its acetic acid unit in Texas City, Texas, during the third quarter of this year.

As the CPI begins to feel its way through the current economic uncertainties, these turnarounds appear to be less vulnerable to delays and cancellation then many capital projects. These turnarounds are often necessary to replace depleted catalysts, to complete code inspections or to meet compliance standards.


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