Operating Problems Hitting Chemical Producers

There have been a number of recent press reports of operating problems at major chemical installations. In Europe, crackers have been in the headlines in recent days, with outages at a number of sites. In Saudi Arabia, on-going technical problems are reported to have impacted the recently commissioned Petro Rabigh facility. Technical problem solving is an issue for many organisations. In particular, new facilities do not necessarily have the experience and the skilled personnel with a capability in troubleshooting. Where multiple problems exist, it is important to prioritise the issues, rather than trying to tackle all at once and then use a rigorous and highly systematic approach to diagnose and resolve those problems. If organisations have insufficient in-house capability, external support should be sought, otherwise minor problems have a habit of growing into much bigger issues.


  1. Hi Andy

    The Middle East delays continue with perhaps only around 1m tonnes of annualised new PP capacity on-stream compared with the 2.77m tonne that had been planned at this stage in 2009.

    In the projects-building frenzy of a few years ago, when everyone took advantage of the easily available finance, labour and equipment manufacturing resources were overstretched.

    Project costs shot up to to the point where, perhaps, choices had to be made on where to spend budgets. This, I am told, is behind some of the delays.

    Careful planning at every stage, I guess, is the solution - and having the ability not to rush into decisions for the sake of keeping up with economies of scale and market shares.
    John Richardson

  2. I agree. Careful planning is an essential project management discipline. If changes have to be made for whatever reason, they should be assessed fully in terms of impact.