In any new industrial facility, the time from when the project is first conceived to when it first generates revenue is pivotal to its financial performance. During the construction phase, every day that can be saved means avoiding costly overhead and bringing operating revenue forward in time.

A new oil and gas project was in such a position, nearing the end of construction, with a projected duration of nine months to commission and start up the facility. At this point a Zero-Based Value Engineering effort was launched to determine the theoretical minimum time required to commission the facility and layout a roadmap of opportunities to improve the schedule.

A challenge to overcome was the conventional wisdom that any attempt to alter the execution plan, this far into construction, would only set the project back. The effort had to demonstrate that valuable improvements could be implemented with minimal impact to the ongoing construction effort.

Systematically determining the theoretical minimum (or Zero-Based) time required to commission and startup the facility showed that:

  • Many substantial opportunities to reduce the time to first oil existed
  • A number of these were highly valuable and of low complexity to implement. They were pursued and realized within the broader execution of the project; adding to, rather than detracting from, the overall execution plan
  • Some other opportunities were simply too complex to implement, and not valuable enough, to improve the execution of this particular project. They were captured and retained for potential application to similar projects in the future and ceased to be a distraction to the current project team.

The impact of these improvements was a 50% reduction in the critical path impact of commissioning and startup to the project schedule - bringing forward first oil by five months.


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World Heavy Oil Congress 2015