Oil and Gas Facility Maintenance Managers Want Less Red Tape, More-Reliable Equipment

Oil and gas maintenance managers rank reliability of equipment and an overload of new processes and procedures to follow as top concerns in a new survey.

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Asset and integrity management consultants Add Energy asked 400 maintenance managers globally to voice their biggest on-the-job concerns. Source: Add Energy

With plant maintenance budgets under pressure, equipment is all too often pushed to operate past its original design life. This worries maintenance managers in the oil and gas industry who rank equipment reliability along with the proliferation of processes and procedures born in the back office as top concerns, according to a recent survey.

Asset and integrity management consultants Add Energy, a subsidiary of Norway’s ABL Group ASA, asked 400 maintenance managers globally (53.3% in North America with the rest scattered throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and South America) to voice their biggest on-the-job concerns.

Topping the list was the growth in the number of new processes and procedures applied to the daily work of maintenance engineers, with 58% of those surveyed stating that the rate at which new red tape proliferates is more of a challenge than it was 5 years ago.

Characteristics of companies where maintenance manager respondents work.
The 2022 Maintenance Manager Report, Add Energy

In all, 42% of respondents said the problem decreases tool time, places unnecessary burdens on skill technicians, and denies competent team members opportunities to make decisions.

Moreover, new processes and procedures are often created so fast by back offices that the rate at which they can be adopted in the field often lags, the survey found, confounding the intent of oil and gas companies to simplify work processes to reduce capex investments and operating expenditures.

“More processes and procedures are created in the belief that they are the solution for skills and competency gaps,” Add Energy’s Executive Vice President of Asset and Integrity Management, Peter Adam, commented in announcing the survey’s findings. But because back-office staff aren’t known to consult their colleagues working in the field, issues that can be better solved with targeted personnel training get masked by a new procedure.

Add To That Problems With Unreliable Equipment

Unreliable equipment came in as No. 2 on the list with 40% of the respondents citing this as their next biggest problem while the third concern (37%) focused on human resistance to using computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS).

In announcing the survey’s findings, Adam called the CMMS problem a training issue that suggests that “either the initial implementation training was insufficient or that there has been an erosion of CMMS expertise post implementation.”

The survey sampled opinions of maintenance managers working at all sizes of companies, ranging from large multinationals to small regional businesses.

Slightly more than 56% of respondents said they expect their maintenance budget to increase, with 21% expecting a decrease. Most (60%) said they would focus their 2023 budgets on improving facilities, plant, and machinery and that they would spend any budget increase on upgrading systems (52%), hiring more people (44%), and upgrading or modifying current equipment (42%).

Given tight maintenance budgets, it is not surprising that “upgrading and modifying systems and equipment are … high on the list as companies are being asked to sweat their assets harder and longer, requiring replacement parts that may not be in production anymore, along with increasing degradation and obsolescence,” Adam noted.

Among other findings in the survey: 70% of maintenance managers believe that the majority of their work is planned; nearly 50% rate their team and maintenance strategy as highly effective; 71% say that their teams struggle most with planning and scheduling.

What maintenance managers in the oil and gas industry replied when asked to name their greatest challenges.

The 2022 Maintenance Manager Report, Add Energy