Durban, South Africa

SAPREF Pacesetter Refinery Turnarounds - Operations & Maintenance

An integrated shutdown was undertaken to implement scheduled inspections, operational cleaning, catalyst changing, and a number of debottlenecking projects. A fully integrated team of SAPREF and Fluor-SAPREF Alliance personnel carried out the work.

Client's Challenge

SAPREF is a joint venture of Shell SA Refining and BP Southern Africa. The crude oil refinery is the largest in Southern Africa and represents 35 percent of South Africa's refining capacity. The refinery processes 24,000 tons of crude per day, producing 10 principal products in 46 grades.

Overall, SAPREF produces 2.7 billion liters of petrol per year, which is enough fuel to for 8,000,000 cars to circle the world. There are approximately 700 employees, 500 contractors, and 208 learners at the refinery.

The project reinstated the mechanical and process integrity of equipment and piping systems in area E, for refinery Units 100, 200A, 200B, 300, 400, 500, and 700.

The shutdown included tie-in of a new 24-meter vertical shell and tube heat exchanger, a “Texas Tower,” in the platformer unit. The tower replaced 12 feed / effluent exchangers, increasing the reliability and capacity of the platformer. The tower was built from alloy steel by a South African manufacturer. It weighs 196 tons and has one of the longest rod-baffled bundles in the world.

Fluor's Solution

A fully integrated team of SAPREF and Fluor-SAPREF Alliance personnel conducted the shutdown, which commenced with scoping, followed by a planning and preparation phase. It was critical that all parties review and approve the shutdown plan so that the responsibility for each activity was fully defined and the services to be provided by the team were well understood and integrated into a master schedule. The execution phase of the shutdown was carried out in three phases: mobilization, shutdown, and demobilization.

The mechanical and process integrity of equipment and piping systems for seven units was reinstated. Mechanical, piping, rigging, and welding disciplines were involved, as were field engineering and quality control and assurance.

Fluor's project control (planning) and warehousing groups set performance and professionalism benchmarks for the main mechanical contractors.


A 100 percent score on health, safety, and environment was achieved at each and every weekly Client / management site inspection, which resulted in more than 300,000 work hours expended without a lost-time or medical recordable case.

In addition, all phases of the shutdown were completed on schedule and below budget.