PetroSA has gained over 12 years experience in the operation of a GTL facility for the production of fuels. This paper describes a project to optimise activities on the Manufacturing site to achieve an overall improvement in profits.

The Site Optimisation Project consists of two primary components:

  • A program to effect more profitable operations of existing assets;

  • An improvement of asset management practices to reduce operating costs and to increase reliability and plant availability.

The profit improvement program involves, as a first step, the economic modelling of operations to provide a base case. Improvement ideas are then generated, evaluated and prioritised with the focus on obtaining meaningful profit improvements whilst minimising capital investments. Implementation teams compile strategies and detail plans for each opportunity. Benefits are demonstrated through greater yield and recovery of higher value products, increased throughput and energy efficiency.

Asset management improvements are based on an assessment study that covers all aspects of reliability engineering, maintenance systems and turnaround management. Elements that were selected for implementation or improvement include Risk Based Work Selection, Planning and Scheduling, Defect Elimination, Resource Flexibility and Asset Policies.

The implementation progress of the various projects modules as well as the progressive economical benefits are continuously measured and tracked. Change management and skills transfer programs are seen as critical and have been incorporated within the overall project.


The Manufacturing Division of PetroSA operates a Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plant to convert natural gas to liquid products. The Manufacturing facility includes a 40 000 bpsd refinery for the upgrade of the synthetic liquids together with a condensate stream, to on-specification fuels and related products.

The Manufacturing Division has gained over 12 years experience in the operation of it's GTL facility. During this period, the primary feedstock to the Manufacturing plant had been sourced from the local gas and condensate fields in the Bredasdorp Basin at a relatively low cost. These reservoirs have a limited life span and studies have therefore been initiated to identify a suitable long-term feedstock that would be supplied by a third party. It is understood that the cost of a long-term feedstock would have a negative impact on the profitability of the Manufacturing Division. The Site Optimisation Project (SOP) was subsequently launched with the objective of improving the overall profitability of the organisation. This project is currently in progress.

First Steps

The SOP was initiated by the identification of two key areas for improvement:

  • Plant Reliability, Availability and Maintenance (RAM).

  • Optimisation of product yield and energy efficiency, executed as a Profit Improvement Program (PIP).

At this time it was decided to seek the assistance of a contractor with specialist expertise in the various areas under investigation. KBC Process Technology Ltd. was appointed to assist PetroSA by providing independent advice and world-class improvement methodologies. KBC has also been involved with the implementation of RAM modules.

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