Operators Drive Down Cost Per Barrel Via Chemical Optimization


Context and Challenge

  • Plant Expansions at this facility have increased production by 200% in the past two years to meet consumer demands

  • During this expansion chemical usage varies significantly from shift to shift causing swings in oil production and quality

  • Chemical costs have risen exponentially and their optimization is critical if the plant is to meet it’s target operating expense (OPEX) per barrel produced

  • Management identified chemical optimization as both a significant challenge to plant stability as well as a major cost opportunity for the Production Team

  • Operational Excellence together with the Production Team were requested to tackle this issue and establish a focused, systematic approach to process control in the area of chemical optimization



  • A team was set up that included members from each shift. This team designed specific optimization experiments for the top two chemical processes based on cost

  • These experiments allowed the Operators to establish optimal set points and procedures for both stable and upset conditions

  • A Panel Operator Playbook was developed to include these procedures and enable operators to follow consistent methodology from shift to shift

  • Metrics and trend graphs were developed to monitor and control chemical usage in real time (Short Interval Control)

  • Introduced performance TALKs (Target/Actual/Loss/Key action discussions) with control room operators to ensure positive reinforcement of monitoring and controlling of KPIs

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