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Managing Large Chemical Plant Startups

By Mark Sheridan, Consultant |

Prudent planning and scheduling during a project’s front end can lead to more expedient commissioning and startup activities Figure 1. Seeing a large CPI facility through design, construction, commissioning and, ultimately, startup requires detailed planning throughout, especially during the project’s front end[/caption] The cost of starting up large new facilities in the chemical process industries (CPI; Figure 1) is a significant element in a project’s total finances. Typically these “owner-controlled” costs are budgeted to be 8–12% of the capital project costs, depending on what is included in the project’s pre-startup budget. Actual costs vary considerably, depending on how well the pre-startup activities are planned and executed. Good startup planning and execution can save 1–3% of total project costs — typically something in the range of $10–40 million for projects that are budgeted for $500 million to $2 billion. This stake is large, yet the people managing the startup preparations are frequently inexperienced with this rather specialized work. This unfamiliarity often results in substantial inefficiencies, causing excessive pre-startup costs and delays that frequently exceed budget and reduce first-year…
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