Forced outage raises refinery’s spend on power generation
Time is money. Especially when a key unit in your power plant is down.
And so it was for our client, who operates an aluminum smelter refinery in the Caribbean. Where it’s based, local grid power is expensive and unreliable. So the refinery largely relies on its own power plant to generate the energy it needs for its operations.
The power plant has three steam turbines. Back in 2008, we carried out a major repair and upgrade of unit #2. That 10 MW unit was not due for regular maintenance until August 2022, but in October 2021 it went into a forced outage.
The unit was experiencing excessive vibration and smoke was seen coming from a bearing. Our client didn’t know what had caused the failure. But what they did know was that it had resulted in significant damage to the rotor, the diaphragms, and a host of other components.
With long lead times for key parts anticipated, they needed an engineering partner who could inspect and repair the unit at lightning speed. Because every day the unit was out of action, they were having to spend an estimated minimum of $7,000/day for 7-8 MW of generator rental and diesel fuel. On top of that they were using extra megawatts from the local grid. And at times they needed to reduce operations in the refinery.
The situation was critical.