Photo: Illustration; Source: Add Energy

Oil & gas maintenance managers facing equipment and procedure challenges

In a recent study, conducted by Add Energy, a subsidiary of Oslo-listed energy consultancy group ABL Group, maintenance managers in the oil and gas industry have voiced concerns over growth in the number of processes and procedures and the lack of equipment reliability.  

Norway-headquartered management and engineering consultancy for the energy sector explained that the survey was completed by more than 400 maintenance managers worldwide, from large multinational companies to smaller regional businesses. Afterwards, Add Energy’s team of maintenance experts analysed the data to provide insights and recommendations based on their experience.

Peter Adam, EVP of Asset and Integrity Management at Add Energy, remarked: “The purpose of the study is to enable maintenance managers to utilise its findings and conclusions to develop approaches and solutions for common maintenance challenges.”

The asset integrity management specialist pointed out that the oil and gas industry has in recent years invested heavily in the simplification of work processes in order to bring down capex investments and operating expenditure. However, 58 per cent of maintenance managers claim that the growing volume of processes and procedures is more challenging now than it was five years ago.

“More processes and procedures are created in the belief that they are the solution for skills and competency gaps. However, most of the time this documentation is created by back office staff who do not rely on the insight of their field colleagues as much as they should,” added Adam.

Furthermore, as an increasing volume of processes and procedures are being created, the rate of adoption is not following the same pace and is seen to decrease tool time, according to 42 per cent of respondents, says Add Energy. In addition, the firm elaborated that this places an “unnecessary burden” on skilled technicians, and takes away decision-making from competent team members.

Peter Adam, Add Energy's EVP of Asset and Integrity Management; Source: Add Energy
Peter Adam, Add Energy’s EVP of Asset and Integrity Management; Source: Add Energy

“Instead of masking issues with processes and procedures, the oil and gas industry should be focusing on valuable training instead of the tick-the-box style of training. This will enhance competence and eliminate skills gaps, which in turn means that we can trust people to do their jobs correctly, efficiently and safely,” outlined Adam.

Moreover, 40 per cent of maintenance managers state within the survey that reliability of equipment is the biggest challenge they face today. 

According to Adam: “More and more equipment is working beyond its original design life. Coupled with the past years’ decline in maintenance budgets, it is not surprising to see widespread concern over equipment reliability levels.”

Add Energy claims that getting people to use the computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) is cited as the second biggest challenge, with 37 per cent of respondents voicing their concerns over this.

“This indicates that either the initial implementation training was insufficient or that there has been an erosion of CMMS expertise post-implementation. Either way, not capitalising on such a sizeable investment is a certain way of ensuring that maintenance of oil and gas assets is less cost-efficient than it could have been,” highlighted Adam.

Maintenance budgets for upgrades & modifications

Based on the survey, over 70 per cent of maintenance managers believe that the majority of their work is planned while approximately 50 per cent rate both their team and maintenance strategy as highly effective. Additionally, 71 per cent of the maintenance managers say that planning and scheduling are things their teams struggle with the most.

On the other hand, just above 56 per cent of maintenance managers expect that their maintenance budget will increase next year, with 21 per cent expecting a decrease. Add Energy underscores that the majority – 60 per cent – will focus on improving facilities, plant and machinery next year.

“The survey data clearly shows that there has been significant pressure on maintenance budgets. Upgrading and modifying systems and equipment are unsurprisingly high on the list as companies are being asked to sweat their assets harder and longer, requiring replacement parts that may not be in production anymore, along with increasing degradation and obsolescence,” concluded Adam.

If maintenance managers were given additional budgets, Add Energy’s survey emphasised that 52 per cent would spend them on upgrading systems, 44 per cent on hiring more people, and 42 per cent on upgrading or modifying current equipment.