The Joint Manufacturing Program team of the Ras Tanura Integrated Project (RTIP) shared the first phase of strategy development and 70 percent of the organization design at a gathering in the Dhahran Leadership Center for a “Cold Eye Review.”
The proposed project is being explored by Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical operating under a memorandum of understanding. The team has been tasked with devising manufacturing strategies and organizational plans for RTIP.
The meeting was an opportunity not only to advise management of progress but also to seek expertise and input from Saudi Aramco executives, management and experts.
On hand were Saudi Aramco executives Adil A. Al-Tubayyeb, vice president of Ras Tanura Integrated Refining and Petrochemicals; Majid Y. Al-Mugla, vice president of Project Management; Mohammed A. Al-Omair, executive director of Refining and NGL Fractionation; Isam A. Al-Bayat, vice president of Engineering Services; Ahmad A. Al-Sa‘adi, vice president of Pipelines, Distribution and Terminal; Huda M. Ghoson, acting executive director of Employee Relations and Training; chief engineer Omar S. Bazuhair; Ras Tanura Refinery general manager Mutleb K. Al-Shammeri; Pipelines general manager Muhammad A. Trabulsi; and 20 Saudi Aramco managers and division heads.
“The RTIP project represents the world’s largest grassroots plastics and chemicals production complex to be developed at one time,” said Al-Tubayyeb.
“It is a highly integrated complex,” he noted. “It consists of 35 process units, each of which could be considered a major project, and will produce on the order of 8 million metric tons of products annually. This will dictate the development of a best-in-class manufacturing strategy to operate this site to maximize the value to the shareholders.”
The objective of the review, he said, was to involve and establish partnership with the parent companies on joint-venture manufacturing organization development, precommissioning, commissioning and start-up.
“Since the beginning, the plan has been to involve the proponent to take ownership of the project and ensure the operating requirements are part of the design,” said Hussain A. Al-Qahtani, Saudi Aramco’s Manufacturing director.
“The manufacturing role goes beyond the normal practice and includes developing best-in-class strategy on maintenance, reliability, engineering, environmental health and safety, product quality and human resources as part of the proponent’s scope and strategy development,” he said. “The interface between the Ras Tanura Integrated Project and Ras Tanura Refinery is extremely important.”
Al-Qahtani told executives about the plan for a Site Operations and Integration Center that will coordinate activities among the 35 plants and other stakeholders such as Ras Tanura Refinery, the Ju‘aymah Gas Plant, Pipelines and suppliers.
“Communications between Saudi Aramco and RTIP will be the key for success and to ensure outstanding design,” Al-Qahtani said. “Important challenges include the interface between the project and the refinery and the shipment of hydrocarbons to manufacturing facilities.”
Saudi Aramco’s Bassam Al-Bokhari and Frank Lucas of Dow Chemical presented the principles, basis and complexity of the organization design, including the best-in-class concept, work process, organization structure, staffing and preparing the work force for the future.
“Manufacturing staffing will grow to reach full staffing during the commissioning,” Al-Bokhari said, noting that “more than 1,000 apprenticeships for operators and technicians are envisioned. Hiring and retaining experienced employees will be a major challenge for RTIP. The strategy is to increase the experience level to ensure smooth and safe operations.”
The team will take the feedback from executives and use it in the next round of planning. An execution plan could be presented as early as October, with resources planning expected by the end of the year.
The Joint-Venture Manufacturing Master Plan could be rolled out in the summer of 2010. If all goes according to present predictions, the organization and facilities could enter full operations by 2015.
Al-Tubayyeb reminded all the participants that this is a work in progress.
“This is the first meeting at this level, and it’s important to raise these concerns as we seek all feedback and resources to shape the future JV,” he said.
“We are not a joint venture yet, but we are a team working to establish a joint venture. Today, the team brings a complete simulation on the operations of the future joint venture at an early stage for feedback and recommendations.” he said. “We’re not going to be Saudi Aramco or Dow Chemical; we’re going to do this the RTIP way.”
The Manufacturing Team directors are Hussain Al-Qahtani of Saudi Aramco, and Bill Knee and Lee Trusty of Dow. For human resources and organization, the manager is Bassam Al-Bokhari of Saudi Aramco and the organization leader is Frank Lucas of Dow.