Successful Contractor Relationships in Refineries

Safety and security concerns in the refining industry have become ever more challenging for operators. Even when the weather and other outside forces cooperate, refineries continue to struggle to meet everyday workplace safety challenges, considering their infrastructure and staff may be stretched to the limit. Picking and managing the right contractors is key to a successful operation.

Turnaround Contractors in Refineries

Any difficult conditions in the refinery are exacerbated when the time arrives for a scheduled turnaround or shutdown. Contractors are a necessary part of any turnaround. They offer more flexibility and know how than the limits of internal staff – all while costing less than having staff trained in all the skills needed. This is why refineries bring in contractors in order to make a turnaround as painless as possible.

Having said all that, contractors can also pose a potential risk that could compromise overall operations. Contractors are by definition outsiders; but may be granted access to people, locations, equipment, and other assets. This reality exposes refineries to property loss, damage by accident, and more dangerous scenarios. Many plants lack the resources to vet contractors prior to allowing them on the premises.

Choose Contractors Carefully

You may not have worked with your chosen contractors in the past, but others have. Treat your potential contractors as you would any other potential employee. Ask questions, do your research, check with past employers, etc. If you have contractors you trust, ask them for recommendations: not only who to use, but what other processes or services you will need during your turnaround, such as custom equipment.

Maintain an open line of communication with your contractors so you may honestly discuss potential situations and vice versa. A good contractor should know the costs of their services and give an accurate evaluation. Understand that not every contractor will be a winner, but knowing what to look for can increase your probability of success.

How to Work with Contractors in Refineries

Once you have chosen your contractors, you must know how to work with them. Establishing an effective identity management system allows refineries to limit access to individuals on an “as needs” basis. Each ID is given to contractors during various stages to allow them to enter areas where they need to go and keep them away from where they don’t. The system also allows contractors to be removed from these areas when their contract expires or if they are terminated. There are many reasons to employ this ID system such as:

  • The size of most refineries makes it impossible for any one person or group of people to keep on top of all contractors at all times.
  • Difficulty in monitoring the amount of traffic entering and exiting the refinery.
  • Dangerous materials in the plant should be subjected to as few visitors as possible.
  • Dangerous or sensitive processes conducted within refineries should have only necessary personnel present.

The AMACS turnaround team is an equipment contractor that replaces in kind process internal equipment and manufactures custom equipment. Feel free to call or e-mail us with your requirements and we’ll respond quickly!