Reduction of Loss of Process Containment (LOPC) in Refinery - A to B Journey

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    August 19, 2020
  • Duration:
    20 minutes
  • Skill Level:
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Presenter Information

Contact Information

Presenter Name:

Bejoy Bharatiya

Contact Name: Bejoy Bharatiya

Telephone No.: +61 8 9440 0440

M: +966 553 543 149

Presenter Biography:

Bejoy Bharatiya, a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng), is Senior Process Safety Engineer at Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery (SASREF), and has over 30 years’ of professional experience in the upstream oil & gas, refining, petrochemical, and mineral processing industry. Prior to joining SASREF, he was the Process Safety Consultant at SANTOS (South Australian Oil Search) Pty Ltd. Australia, Senior Operations Engineer with Saudi Aramco, and the Principal Process Engineer of Brown & Root Energy Services (currently, Kellogg, Brown & Root), Australia.

Fax No.: +61 413 098 008

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Paper/Presentation Title: Reduction of Loss of Process Containment (LOPC) in Refinery – A to B Journey by Bejoy K. Bharatiya, Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery

Over the years, the oil and gas industry has learned lessons from a number of process safety events such as loss of control and loss of containment top events that resulted in: fires, vapour cloud explosions (VCE), toxic and asphyxiant exposure, which occurred in various parts of the world and are not limited to the country of origin. It has been the continuous effort of the industry to manage the loss of process containment through the inherent design and operating and maintenance strategies to improve the safety of the processing facility. The present paper is concerned with the typical LOPC reduction program of a downstream manufacturing facility of oil companies such as Saudi Aramco and Shell. The LOPC is defined and categorized based on API RP 754 (Process Safety Performance Indicators for the Refining and Petrochemical Industries).

The following core belief is very crucial in achieving an effective LOPC reduction program:

· Every leak is preventable

· Every leak is a big deal (find small, fix small).

Our journey started from 2012 when we established our A case: There were about 200-250 leaks per month. And about one (1) process fire per month. Our aspiration is goal ‘zero’, i.e. no leak.

Our A to B LOPC Journey in numbers are:

2012 : Average of 200 leaks per month and about 1 process fire per month (approach was to record live leaks and reactive maintenance).

2013 : 250 leaks/month (T/A only, corrective maintenance no preventive maintenance, started executing double mechanical seal project)

2014 : Average of 170 leaks per month (strategy build up and develop structured PSM program).

2015 : Average of 49 leaks per month (updated procedures and QCPs, identified critical valves, PM notification in system, 1445 valves overhauling in T/A).

2016 : Average of 37 leaks per month (weekly meeting, replaced CS fittings, replaced SS tubes in critical services).

2017 : Average of 20 leaks per month (monitor repeated leak list, around 62 pump seals upgraded, around 87% of CS fittings replaced, PM schedule for critical valves (average 45/month).

2018 : Average of 17 leaks per month (change sight glasses to magnetic SG per MBT study, PG strategy, isolate unused PGs and change to PT for frequent pressure readings, smart torqueing, bad actor list to be shared each month, revise flange protocol system for critical and non-critical services, etc.)

Jun YTD 2019 : Average of 13 leaks per month and improving (Apply strategies and learnings from various processing units.

The facility developed live dashboard KPI/data and made available on the company portal. Also, monthly presentation is made to the management to highlight the progress on the LOPC reduction trend and new strategies/efforts that are being planned to improve further. The process safety performance for the month of June 2019 for LOPC are shown in Table 1.0.

Table 1.0 - Process Safety Performance – June 2019







API Tier 1 Process Safety Events






API Tier 2 Process Safety Events


< 3




LOPC with Fire Consequence






LOPC > 100 kg (excl. flaring)


< 6




Flammable, Toxic or Above AIT LOPC > 10 kg


< 5




There were a few brain storming sessions conducted with various stakeholders in the facility such as Operations, Maintenance, Asset Integrity, Maintenance Strategy, Technology and Management. The following top 6 threats were identified:

· Pump mechanical seals

· Flange, gasket, mechanical fittings

· Instrument fittings

· Gland and packing systems

· Internal corrosion

· External corrosion

Based on these, the following strategies were evolved to achieve LOPC reduction in the facility (refer to Table 2.0).

Table 2.0 - LOPC Reduction Strategy

Specific Concerns

LOPC Reduction Tactics

Pump Mechanical Seals

· Pump Seal upgrade 1st wave completion and starting 2nd wave -2011-2018 (Hazardous Service per DEP

· Attend all seals >15 Years by nearest opportunity

· Bad actors list to be shared in monthly basis

Small Bore Connections/Instrument Fittings

· Risk based vibration survey. Screwed to welded small bore connections. Instrument coupling/fitting assurance....workmanship focused. Instrument CS to SS 316L fittings incl. all insulated fittings..2016-2018...only TA (turn-around) scope remains but no undue risks.

· Change sight glasses to magnetic SG per Shell DSM RP and MBT study.

· Isolate unused pressure gauges (PG strategy per Model Bowtie Risk Assessment), and change to PI for frequent pressure readings.

Flange/Gasket/Mechanical Fittings

· Revise flange protocol system for critical and non-critical flanges. Only SASREF certified crafts make-up critical flanges

· Smart Torqueing applications.

· Bad actors list to be shared in monthly basis.

Gland/Packing Systems

· Apply strategies and learnings from various processing units.

· Bad actors list to be shared in monthly basis.

Demineralization Plant

· Unit renovation/rejuvenation project.

Integrity Management

· Inspection refocused from UT to (digital) RT bias.

· CUI strategy implementation.

This paper discusses the major strategies based on in-house experience and summarizes the achievements made in the LOPC reduction journey within the facility to improve safety integrity of the refinery. An effort has been made to highlight the major approaches/ methodologies adopted by the oil company. Emphasis has been made to increase the awareness among the refinery operations, maintenance, inspection and process safety functions to the safety of a major hazard facility.

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