Bahrain Vision and Values – Process Control Solutions in the Petro–Business

Editor: Dominik Stephan

The measure for industry excellence: Ebrahim Talib, Deputy Chief Executive, Refining & Marketing, Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) describes how the company’s commitment to innovation and investment is adding value for the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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Ebrahim Talib, Deputy Chief Executive, Refining & Marketing, Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) describes how the company’s commitment to innovation and investment is adding value for the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Ebrahim Talib, Deputy Chief Executive, Refining & Marketing, Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) describes how the company’s commitment to innovation and investment is adding value for the Kingdom of Bahrain.
(Picture: PROCESS)

Bapco’s vision is ‘Striving for Excellence’ - a clear message that is the guiding principle to which the company operates. More than a hydrocarbon producer and refiner, Bapco is a major employer for the Kingdom of Bahrain and is active in sponsoring various community initiatives and institutions to helping nurture the next generation of talented engineers to build communities. This approach is in line with Bahrain’s Vision 2030, which envisages oil providing the foundation for a bigger and more sustainable economy.

Setting the Vision: Improve the Downstream Chain

The focus on improving collaborative decision making should be an integral part of the strategy to improve downstream supply chain activities, forecast accuracy, distribution scheduling and execution. A vital element in Bapco’s long-term strategy in this regard was inaugurated back in 2011 by His Royal Highness the Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Taking ultra low sulphur unconverted oil feedstock from the recently-commissioned Low Sulphur Diesel Production (LSDP) complex hydrocracker at the refinery, the $430 million Lube Base Oil Plant (LBOP) has the capacity to manufacture up to 400,000 tonnes per year of Group III Very High Viscosity Index (VHVI) lubricant base oils. These products meet next generation lubricant performance and environmental standards, which are in increasing demand in Europe and North America.

The Bapco Story – Creating Industry Excellence

“Our company is currently implementing a comprehensive investment programme and one of the largest in the country’s history, which will see it transformed into one of the world’s most sophisticated refiners and also a significant upstream player, injecting valuable new revenue streams into the national economy by 2018. At the heart of this programme is the Refinery Master Plan. This multi-dimensional project will ultimately create a refinery reflecting technological excellence in terms of product slate and establishing Bahrain as a highly competitive global refining hub”, Ebrahim Talib, Deputy Chief Executive, Refining & Marketing of Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) explains.

"Strategic investments at Bapco will not only create additional jobs internally, but also invigorate supporting industries, such as construction and material supplies. While technologies drive processes, the responsibility for achieving operational excellence and maximising performance levels will continue to be the measure of success for Bapco."

Enhancing Values and Standard

The oil and gas industry has experienced dramatic changes in recent years. The combination of environmental concerns and global demand for crude oil and natural gas has forced companies to take short-term cost-cutting measures. However, Bapco continues to invest in Quality Management (QM) and Environment Management Standards (EMS) to maintain its ethos for continued excellence.

Bapco Refining and Marketing is ISO 9001 accredited. ISO principals of System Thinking in Management Review, a Process Approach and a Factual Approach to Decision Making are used extensively in Bapco control processes. The principal application of ISO 9001 in Bapco is to ensure customer satisfaction though the sustainable supply of products on time, in full and on specification.

Bapco’s Refinery, Sitra and Wharf operations are certified to ISO 14001: 2004 Standard. The EMS provides a formalized structure with clearly defined procedures, roles and responsibilities for ensuring that environmental issues are identified quickly and appropriate control measures are put in place to minimise the impact on the organisation’s operations, activities, products or services and ensures a clean environment for the community at large. Our belief is that effective EMS also leads to continual improvement of environmental performance.

Investment in State-of-the-Art Technology

Bapco is implementing a comprehensive programme to create some of the world’s most sophisticated refiners. Backed with multi-billions of investments, the multi-dimensional project will ultimately create a refinery reflecting technological excellence. The key objectives are to manufacture higher value products to increase revenue.

With approximately 95% of refinery products exported around the world, the business strives to increase value through refining and providing better returns for the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bapco is showing many successes, including the Low Sulphur Diesel Production project, which revolves around one of the largest single train hydrocrackers in the world and one of the largest single train ultra low sulphur diesel hydrotreaters. The most recent application of state-of-art technology is through the joint venture with Neste Oil and nogaholding, in the Lube Base Oil facility, which produces very high quality lube base oils, resulting in high premium products and revenues for Bahrain and its joint venture partner.

"Effective refinery planning defines the direction for performance across the organisation", Talib says. "The alignment of daily plant operational decisions with corporate and financial objectives is crucial for productivity. From forecasting to feedstock valuation, crude run and to unit optimisation, the single objective is to maximise profitability. Equipped with leading-edge software, we are well prepared to function with a more transaction-oriented and commercially astute approach to our business."

Bapco’s investment in AspenTech software is a perfect example. The Aspen One suite consists of manufacturing, engineering and supply chain applications and has contributed to Bapco’s success, including optimising processes, tightening control of operations and enhancing overall quality.

How Process Control Solutions Add to Efficiency

From the Manufacturing suite, Bapco is using Aspen Tech’s Advanced Process Control for maintaining high operating efficiencies in the process plant (i.e. APC has the proven capability to adhere to safety and process constraints while moving the process to deliver higher value products). From peer reviews, such as the Solomon APC Study, Bapco is achieving ‘top tier’ performance in several groups of comparable process units. The estimated gap due to loss of opportunity is minimal compared to ‘best in class’ performing units.

The expectation is that the new tools and features provided in Aspen One will reduce engineering effort and allow faster deployment and turn-around of APC applications. Also, Aspen HYSYS is the modelling tool Bapco uses for conceptual design, optimisation, business planning, asset management and performance monitoring for oil & gas production, gas processing and petroleum refining. "Aspen PIMS is the tool that facilitates Bapco’s enterprise-wide planning through optimisation of feedstock evaluation, product slate production, plant design and operations, enabling our plants to run at maximum efficiency and profitability."

The Measure of Success

Refining is a highly competitive industry and uncertainties in the world mean additional pressure on margins. The region will see the addition of over 1.2 million barrels per day of refining capacity in the next few years, which will help make the Middle East a major world refining centre. Bapco continues to invest for the future, improving its human capital through education and training, particularly in the field of applied sciences. In a world where modern technology and new competitors from across the globe are constantly shortening product lifetimes, entrepreneurship and innovation will ensure the sustainability of a vibrant private sector.

Talib adds: "Through leading-edge software, Bapco can rapidly respond to changing market conditions or upsets in their operations. The business is optimising its petroleum supply chain with integrated refinery planning and standardised platforms. Ultimately, our new generation of engineers can maximise profitability and drive improvements. With our clear vision and sound investments, Bapco will sustain long-term economic value for Bahrain and continue to strive for excellence."

* Courteousy of Aspentech