“Byco will be Pakistan’s first refinery to produce Euro-5 fuels.”
Rashid Badruddin is the Vice President of Operations at Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited and has been associated with the company for 19 years now. He got his degree in Mechanical Engineering from NED in Karachi in 1991. Previously associated with construction engineering firms Zsagrow and Zelin, Mr. Badruddin also worked with SEFEC Engineering on Parco’s mid-country refinery project, and with JGC Gulf in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Following are the edited transcripts of his recent conversation with BR Research where he talks about Byco’s upgradation project:
BR Research: You have spent the almost two decades with Byco; can you tell us about your journey?
Rashid Badruddin: I wanted to be an engineer from as long as I can remember. Most of my career, 19 years, has been with Byco, starting as a senior officer. I was appointed GM of Projects in 2012, and in 2019 I was made Vice President of Operations. The thing about Byco that continues to inspire me to this very day has been the passion of this company. From the board to the senior management, to the graduate trainees that we are hiring now, you will find a passion to perform and innovate, which is a rarity in my view. My job is unusually challenging for me and that is why I love my work.
I believe there are very few opportunities in the world that allow a mechanical engineer the level of challenge that exists when it comes to the complete relocation of plants that we have done at Byco. The relocation of a complete refinery from start to finish, in the manner that Byco has achieved at our plant in Mouza Kund, Hub, is a rare opportunity for an engineer anywhere in the world. From the engineering design, relocation and refurbishment of the plants to the construction, pre-commissioning, and commissioning down to running the operations of the refineries, all in one platform entails the whole spectrum of engineering processes in one project.
BRR: Tell us about ¬the relocation of the refinery from the US & UK and to Pakistan There are some issues related to reassembled plants such as age and technology; in your view how has the performance been?
RB: Some people think that all relocated plants are old and use old technology. My experience has been anything but this in the case of Byco. I have supervised the entire process of both Byco plants’ relocation, from the point of dismantling the refineries in the US and later in the UK, through to their 3D scanning/modeling, match marking, and then packing and shipping each item to its new location.
We employed some key principles in our relocation: these units are heat integrated, and therefore units are meticulously installed on their original footprint. Refurbishment, renovation and maintenance of equipment is conducted strictly as per the equipment manufacturers’ guidelines. It is more common to see portions of a plant being moved but moving an entire refinery and then running it successfully is very rare; rarer still is to have capacity enhancements done to the relocated plant as in Byco’s case.
If such care is taken, plants actually never become old; if a plant is maintained properly, which means that all of its parts are inspected as per the inspection plan and then are replaced with new parts based on the recommendations of inspection report, the plant is continually being refreshed and renewed. For example, the heat exchanges used at our plant, and columns trays, and each part that is worn down and/or completes its life must be replaced as per its own specs. Therefore, we are continually making our plant new again.
To improve the plant’s efficiency, performance and reliability, Byco installed a state-of-the-art new crude furnace, and a complete new DCS (Distributed Control System) as well. Byco’s refinery runs just like a well-maintained plant because of its implemented inspection and maintenance programs. The evidence of this is clear: our refinery has been in continuous operation for 3 years without a single instance of major shutdown due to equipment failure.
BRR: Recently, Byco has announced that it has embarked upon establishing its “Upgrade – I” project. What is the project about?
RB: As you know in recent years, Pakistan’s fuel mix has evolved quite quickly. Only about four years ago, furnace oil or fuel oil was the main feedstock for power plants. Then by official decree, this was switched overnight to LNG back in October of 2017. Suddenly, one of the natural products of all the hydro-skimming refineries in Pakistan, which was previously a source of profitability for the refining industry, had no demand left in the country. We were at pains trying to determine where to store all the fuel oil which our process had to produce in order to make gasoline, diesel and all the other products we make as refiners. We even managed to export furnace oil in January 2020 to mitigate the losses we were incurring on it in Pakistan.
We had to determine a path to upgrade our plant to do away with the furnace oil whose market was disappearing before our eyes. That’s when our Board and Senior Management decided to come up with the “Upgrade 1” project plan. We decided that we needed to evolve towards a deep conversion refinery to meet the needs of the evolving technical and environmental standards that were becoming the norm in Pakistan and the world. As you can imagine, this took some time as this project is a major capital outlay. But it was deemed necessary for the business, so we managed to reach financial close in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns that took place about a year ago last April 2020.
A major part of the “Upgrade – 1” project is to install a Fluidized Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Unit along with its associated unit as well as a Diesel Hydrotreater and Desulphurization (DHDS) Unit. Byco will be installing the first FCC in Pakistan. FCC will help us to convert the furnace oil into more valuable gasoline and diesel, while the DHDS will reduce sulphur content in our diesel, making it more environmentally friendly. Together these upgrades will make Byco Pakistan’s first refineries that will be producing the Government’s mandated Euro-5 fuels.
BRR: Relocating a plant or setting up an entirely new project entail safety measure. What is safety management at Byco like?
RB: Over the last few years, Byco has made substantial investments to ensure its safety management systems are state-of-the-art, leveraging resources, including equipment and people. Byco Petroleum initially upgraded its facilities with modern safety and security controls. We engaged with the global leader in safety management, DuPont, to conduct an audit of its entire safety management system. DuPont’s safety audit for Byco included a detailed inspection of the refinery facility and an examination of the safety training and policies. Once the audit was completed, Byco had identified all the gaps in its safety management system. We then began the lengthy process of upgrading our safety systems, revamping the organization to include safety and health personnel, and integrating the safety culture into day-to-day work practices.
Byco Petroleum has made substantial investments to adopt the DuPont Safety System which is viewed globally as the holy grail of safety management systems. All managers at Byco Petroleum in all departments are now required to do safety audits, by physically inspecting their business units and human behaviors to ensure the site operations remain safe and healthy for the operating staff and community. Management Safety Audits have become a key aspect of Byco Petroleum’s safety culture. Moreover, Byco Petroleum has also become a rare company to link safety performance with remuneration. The company also closely monitors any workplace injuries, however minor, and conducts programs to reinforce safety practices.
We have adopted the U.S-based National Fire Protection Association’s guidelines on building fire water protocols, which are strictly enforced. Byco also used the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines, considered the gold standard in health and safety risk management, for overhauling its health and safety policies.
BRR: Can you speak about the future of your Industry?
RB: Byco is conscious of climate change and therefore has already committed to mitigating our carbon emissions through forestation using the Miyawaki Method. We do not however see Pakistan’s fuel needs changing drastically for the next twenty-five to thirty years. We will continue to upgrade ourselves and ensure that we comply with the environmental standards of Pakistan and exceed them. If you look within our region, some countries have developed themselves in the oil sector enough to be able to export their refined petroleum products. If Pakistan can increase its refining capacity to a level where we can export our excess products, it will strengthen Pakistan’s economy and make us more self-reliant.