Implementing a new maintenance strategy designed to slash downtime, GE Oil & Gas recently completed the first cycle of gas turbines modular replacement project at the Qatargas liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City. Qatar increased LNG production time by approximately one week per outage. Citing the success of this project, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) recently granted to GE the 2011 IPMA Project Excellence Award for Big-Sized Projects.
The scope of the project included the major inspection of 15 GE Frame gas turbines operating on Qatargas LNG trains 1, 2 and 3. A GE Frame 5 gas turbine has to undertake a major inspection at every 48,000 hours and usually takes 28 days for its completion. During a major inspection, the machine is completely dismounted on site where the people can count on limited resources for disassembly, inspection and reassembly activities. Learning from previous experience in the GE Aviation business, GE Oil & Gas adapted the "Modular Replacement" method for Frame 5 machines. This new maintenance strategy is carried out by replacing the entire engine instead of dismounting the machine on site. The new module is started up immediately after installation while the used one will be repaired in a new workshop developed by GE close to the site as a scope of this project.
A day of shutdown of an LNG plant means loss of production during that day, so the main goal for the customer is to reduce this downtime, shortening the maintenance window. The implementation of this new maintenance philosophy allowed Qatargas to save more than one week of production while GE has been able to remove the constraint of the time for performing maintenance on the equipment.
By applying GE’s modular replacement strategy in a cascade process, it was possible to keep downtime to a minimum. The success of this project supports the goal of Qatargas to become the largest LNG producer in the world.
A long-term service agreement already in place between GE and Qatargas has been amended to include the gas turbine modular replacement program. The service agreement is supported by a GE Oil & Gas Service Center and Repair Workshop that GE established close to the Qatargas site in Ras Laffan Industrial City. The facility was one of the achievements of the project and is currently expanding GE’s local services capabilities, strengthening local technical support and reducing turn-around times for projects throughout the region.