Aera Energy pursues maintenance convergence

Oil producer Aera Energy, Bakersfield, CA, is meeting tremendous maintenance challenges at its Belridge complex through a variety of initiatives that integrate maintenance with operations. The journey to maintenance excellence is a testament to what can be accomplished in five years with a total commitment from both the maintenance and operations sides of the business.


Aera Energy-Belridge profile

Oil producer Aera Energy, Bakersfield, CA, is meeting tremendous maintenance challenges at its Belridge complex through a variety of initiatives that integrate maintenance with operations. The journey to maintenance excellence is a testament to what can be accomplished in five years with a total commitment from both the maintenance and operations sides of the business.

Aera Energy was formed in 1997 when Mobil and Shell combined their Belridge oil fields to form Aera. At that time, the maintenance philosophy was "run to failure and repair quickly." Critical equipment typically had redundant backup. The new philosophy is total process reliability, which is now consistently better than 98%.

Among the initiatives that have made this progress possible are autonomous maintenance, vibration monitoring and analysis, condition-based monitoring, root cause failure analysis, work and material flow, and equipment improvement teams. Processes that foster interaction, communication, and information sharing between maintenance craftspeople and operations personnel are critical.

For example, the Equipment Improvement Team (EIT) process brings together operations and crafts personnel to focus on improving operation and reliability of a specific piece of equipment. The process includes training and sharing on equipment operation and maintenance practices. The Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFT) process brings together operation and maintenance personnel to investigate and determine causes of equipment failure, which typically involves discussion and review of operating and maintenance practices.

Frequent meetings involving both operations and maintenance people ensure the coordination of efforts. The daily Morning Meeting is used to discuss the impact of maintenance work on production and to set schedules and priorities for the day. The weekly Resource Sharing meeting of key operational and maintenance representatives communicates maintenance resource constraints and availabilities for the upcoming week. Resources can then be shifted to the performance of work providing the highest value to the organization. The weekly Operations Leadership Team meeting ensures alignment throughout the organization with discussions of significant operational or maintenance events.

The Belridge complex has formalized an Autonomous Maintenance (AM) process that allows an operator to improve the basic conditions of his equipment using a set of reference criteria as a standard. The operator self-audits his equipment against the standard, identifies gaps, and develops an improvement plan. Once the operator believes he has reached 90% compliance with the standards, he requests a certification audit. When the certification team validates the equipment condition, the operator is recognized with a placard certifying the equipment as an AM facility, a certificate of recognition, and a monetary reward.

These and other processes bring maintenance and operations together for convergence on the common goal of total process reliability. Having reached the status of world-class maintenance, as recognized by the NAME Award, the Aera Energy Belridge Complex has demonstrated its capabilities for sustaining continuous improvement.

Aera Energy-Belridge profile

Business: oil and gas extraction

Production: 135,000 bbl oil 70 million cu ft gas 80 megawatts electricity 800,000 bbl water

Wells: about 12,000 (18 new wells per week)

Infrastructure: 22 mi by 2.5 mi (approximately 15 sq mi) 400 mi of roads 250 mi of pipelines 500 mi of power lines

Plants/processes: 100+ steam generators 3 sulferox plants 3 cogeneration plants 2 gas processing plants 8 oil plants 5 water plants 5 water disposal systems

Personnel: 1100 including contractors

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

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But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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