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Orpic reveals progress on Wet Gas Scrubber unit following fire



Sohar: Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) has disclosed how it coped with an incident earlier this year which, without effective crisis management, could have had a significant impact on the company's business.

On March 11, fire broke out at Orpic's Sohar Refinery during the company's planned shutdown of the refinery for maintenance to be performed on the Wet Gas Scrubber (WGS). As a result, the unit, which removes sulphur oxides from gases created by the refining process, and is therefore a critical environmental process, was badly damaged.

Following the fire, Orpic officials immediately implemented a recovery plan. Long and short term challenges were quickly identified, chief amongst them being the rapid replacement of the major equipment that had been damaged and the sourcing of low sulphur cracker feedstock and a special sulphur  oxide compound removal catalyst which, in combination, would allow the refinery to operate without the WGS while repairs were made.

According to AlMoatasam Al Yaqoubi, Team Leader in Engineering Services at Orpic, "We went into a 24/7 construction mode in order to ensure that no time was lost in replacing the WGS unit. A potential local vendor was approached and agreed to complete the fabrication and transportation of the WGS within a 62 day time frame, a target that was beaten by seven days and involved moving the 75 metric tonne unit within Sohar Port from the supplier's yard to its final destination in the refinery."

The WGS is 11 by 12 metres in size, so special preparations and permissions were obtained prior to transportation.

In fact, 90 per cent of the fabrication that was required to replace the damaged unit was completed in Oman. The WGS unit, itself, was to be re-commissioned in mid-July, with final completion of additional equipment being installed by the end of August 2013, and incorporates improvements that were originally scheduled to be completed during the planned shutdown. Once active again, the need for a special catalyst and low sulfur cracker feedstock to ensure environmental safety will have ended.

AlMoatasam added, "Whilst we would never have wished this to happen, it's proven to us how effectively we can react to an incident of this significance. Our crisis management system worked well, and the recovery plan, with the support of our suppliers, although it stretched us all, has proceeded without a hitch."

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