Petroperú (Talara New Refinery Project)

Project progress

In mid-March 2021, Energy, Oil & Gas was fortunate to once again speak to Jorge Alméstar, the Manager of Petroperú’s New Talara Refinery Project (PNTRP) to get an update on the progress of the scheme since it was last featured in the magazine in 2019. Before getting the details from Jorge, it is worth a quick recap on what the project involves, as it is an extraordinary endeavor, involving investments and manpower of a scale unprecedented in Peru. It is based at the Talara refinery (one of three refineries operated by Peru’s state-owned petroleum company Petroperú) and began in response to proposals for new air quality legislation that materialized at the close of the 20th century The largest and most important of Petroperú’s refineries, Talara has a history stretching back to 1917, and in response to the need for cleaner air and an ecological modernization program, it was selected by Petroperú as the focus of a multi-billion-dollar improvement project.

The investment in this project is being made with Petroperú’s own resources and does not affect the country’s fuel prices, which are governed by supply and demand, in accordance with the Hydrocarbons Law. Likewise, it is important to note that the financing has not required the State’s endorsement.

The end result of Petroperú’s negotiations, policies and proposals was the Talara New Refinery Project (TNRP) – a plan to develop a New Talara Refinery on site. Including a massive amount of engineering and construction, the program sees the installation of new process units and facilities designed to increase the production capacity of the refinery, as well as the introduction of new, more complex processes and more advanced technology. The finished Talara Refinery will be able to desulfurize fuels, improve the octane rating of naphthas, process heavier crudes and decrease the production of residuals.

Progress & landmarks
It took years of exhaustive research and conceptual and basic engineering before the EPC phase of the PTNRP began in June 2014, and now seven years later, completion is in sight and the project is recognized as one of the most successful initiatives of its kind in the world.

At $4.7 billion, the PTNRP represents not just the biggest single investment in Peru’s comhistory but also a significant evolution in the oil and gas sector for Peru. Jorge was keen to apprise the magazine’s readers on the further progress and landmarks that have been achieved over the ensuing two years since we last spoke, and he began some statistics on what the PTNRP is going to deliver. “The new Talara Refinery Project will process 95,000 barrels per day of crude oil producing EURO 4 fuels (diesel, gasoline and LPG mainly),” he said. “The new facilities entail 16 process units, five auxiliary units, storage and dispatch facilities and other maintenance and supply facilities.

“Longer term, Petroperú and the Talara Refinery will develop an advanced control program to optimize refining margins,” he continued. “Furthermore, the new Talara Refinery will be able to produce EURO 6 fuels after some works that are scheduled during the first refinery turnaround at the end of 2023.”

In the months from July 2019 to January 2021, progress on the PTNRP increased from 77.98 per cent to 93.24 per cent complete, and this has included the finalization of many major technological and operational milestones. “Most of the EPC activities are finished, and we have completed pre-commissioning tests: hydrostatic testing, box up to stationary equipment and loops testing for 12 process units,” divulged Jorge, before going on to highlight the works that are being focused on in the early months of 2021. “These relate to the sea water plant start up, 100 MW back up power line generation and completing the pre-commissioning of remaining process units.”

As part of the project, a new management plan is also being implemented for its operation. Jorge told us a bit more about what is involved. “The new management system is composed mainly in the areas of personnel, comoperational procedures, assets, and HSEQ,” he said. “This includes new chart organization, recruitment of 583 new personnel, 500k HH for training, more than 1200 operational documents, HSEQ procedures and preventive and predictive culture for assets reliability.”

Safety protocols
HSEQ clearly plays a noteworthy role in the new plans, and indeed across the whole project, keeping workers safe has been a top priority – especially given the numbers of staff involved in the program. “During the construction activities, a daily average of 3,873 personnel was hired, with a maximum reach of 9,500 at the peak,” Jorge noted.

Astonishing on their own, these numbers are even more significant when taking the Covid-19 pandemic into account and Jorge agreed that the teams working on the PRTM had to overcome many challenges and obstacles presented by the outbreak of coronavirus. Following a three-month suspension of works, construction was restarted gradually and progressively, on June 15, 2020.

Work was resumed in critical areas with the incorporation of up to a maximum of 75 per cent of the total number of workers that were available before the start of the State of National Emergency in Peru. Total adherence to the procedures agreed and established in the surveillance plans was required, for the prevention and control of Covid-19 for this project.

“Petroperú prepared strict safety protocols to face Covid-19, which were approved by the relevant governmental entities to allow us to carry on with project activities,” agreed Jorge. “More than 190 HSE and medical professionals were in charge to assure all these protocols were adhered to 24/7.”

This attitude to keeping staff safe also includes a dedication to training, as alongside the progress in the construction program, employees are being trained to operate the new process units, participate in pre-commissioning activities (no-load tests to verify equipment and systems) and subsequently to operate them. Commissioning and final testing of the systems will be undertaken prior to the start of operations of the new Talara Refinery.

Furthermore, Petroperú has a deep sense of social responsibility towards the people and communities surrounding the refinery. It even donated a new Modular Hospital to ESSALUD, which is already fully operational, to strengthen universal care for Covid-19 patients, attending to cases that occur in the oil province.

Community spirit
It also undertakes community enterprises, so, for example, technical-productive training has been given in economic initiatives in favor of 200 women from Talara through SENATI; of whom 11 have a successful enterprise based on seed capital promoted by Petroperú. More recently, in a strategic alliance with entities in the Piura region, Petroperú concluded a project to improve services aimed at the Artisan Fishermen’s Union of Puerto San Pedro, in Talara.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility dedication, the Talara Refinery has benefited over 42,001 Talara locals in the last seven years.

The infrastructure and environment surrounding the refinery have also been the recipient of Petroperú’s attention, and it recently began maintenance work on the Northern Cone road, which included changing the asphalt layer from the Víctor Raúl bridge to the Jesús María settlement. Petroperú is always keen to affirm its commitment to the Talara community, and this includes the future socio economic benefits of the project to the region and the wider country as well. The very best of world engineering and construction practices will have been transferred to local companies for future projects, expanding their own expertise and increasing their opportunities to gain work in the oil and gas sector in the future. During its execution, PTNRP has contributed to boosting the economy in the province of Talara and in the Piura region, in addition to generating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

Amazing accomplishments
In conjunction with this latter point, at a recent virtual event inaugurated by Jorge, more than 80 national and international companies showed interest in participating in maintenance work at the new Talara Refinery. The roadshow titled ‘Maintenance Services for the new Talara Refinery’ briefed participants about the project’s progress and highlighted the asset conservation services that Petroperú will shortly contract for the new Talara Refinery.

At the event, Jorge highlighted the importance of identifying strategic partners who are capable of delivering a world-class service offering. Petroperú representatives spoke about the construction process of the new refinery and provided information on the maintenance services to be hired, which are common in the industry. They also provided information on the Petroperú hiring process and resolved the concerns of the participants about the topics discussed and the services that will be publicly convened as of May.

With the finishing line in sight for the completion of this extraordinary project, Jorge and his team are keen to maintain momentum and ensure that the all planning efforts come together as they should. As the PTNRP heads into the final stages of its evolution, he noted the next areas of focus on the agenda. “In the second and third quarters of 2021, Petroperú will focus on works and activities related to the auxiliary units commissioning, and the startup and operation and process units commissioning,” he said. “The start-up is programmed for November 2021 followed by performance testing, so ramp up to full operation is estimated by March 2022,” Jorge confirmed.

Standing as one of the most significant and important refining projects in the world, PTNRP is not only going to benefit the economy of Peru, but will also improve the nation’s health, thanks to its improvement in air quality and lowering of pollution. Now in the final months of its extraordinary journey to completion, EOG congratulates Jorge and the team on their amazing accomplishments so far, and looks forward to catching up again in 12 months’ time, as the refinery heads up to full output. It will be an extremely exciting time for Petroperú, and the eyes of the oil and gas sector will be on them, to learn from and appreciate what has been achieved.

Petroperú (Talara New Refinery Project)
Services: Refinery project