A letter to our community about turnaround
Sep 27, 2019
Our top priority remains operating in a safe and environmentally sound manner. We greatly appreciate your support in the delivery of this event.
Friends and neighbors,
Our fall turnaround event begins next week.
During peak turnaround activities, we will have an additional 6,000 people working the event. They will be split in two shifts, with a net result of +3,000 workers at the site, 24/7. With pre-turnaround work, we are currently up to 2,000 additional workers, will ramp up to peak around mid-October, and we expect to ramp down through November. We recognize any maintenance activity comes with impact and the size of this turnaround event brings additional challenges. We apologize for any negative impact we may have to the community and appreciate your patience as we work through this event that will help us run safely and reliably for years to come.
Quick primer on turnarounds and what might be visible during this time:
A turnaround is a regular maintenance activity – similar to maintenance we perform to keep our vehicles running properly. During an industrial turnaround, equipment is shut down, inspected, repaired or replaced, and cleaned to ensure safe and reliable operations for years to come. It is also an opportunity for us to make capital investments to improve process safety, reliability, and leverage new growth opportunities that cannot otherwise be completed during normal operations. For example, this turnaround allows us to complete capital projects to meet the new International Maritime Organization standards for sulfur lower content in marine fuel oils in advance of the sulfur reduction from 3.5% to 0.5% in 2020.
Turnarounds are a 24/7 operation that brings additional activity to the site - from our skilled contract partners, to drone flights, cranes, light stands, potential flaring and steam venting. These are all important to bringing the equipment down and back up safely. As always, we look to minimize negative impacts to the community throughout this work.
Impacts and actions
Here are the top impacts we anticipate for this event and our actions to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts. Big thanks to our community partners – including HCTRA, local law enforcement, Economic Alliance and the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce – and our neighbors for their input and support.
We understand traffic is a concern in the Deer Park area, particularly with the BW-8 feeder roads under construction near Hwy 225 and more recently, the additional traffic rerouted from the partial I-10 bridge closure. To alleviate traffic during shift change, we’re staggering shift times to avoid peak commute hours. The workers are split across 9, 10, 11 and 12-hour shifts with the bulk of people commuting between 5:30-7:30 am/pm.
With regards to infrastructure, we partnered with HCTRA to build a BW-8 bypass road, routing workers from our west parking lot under BW-8 to head southbound without having to come out on the westbound Hwy 225 feeder. We also met with HCTRA regarding installing a temporary ramp to the southbound BW-8, south of Hwy 225, and we are happy to see that has recently opened to alleviate traffic further. Additionally, we opened a new exit from site to route traffic east on Hwy 225, without going to the BW-8/Hwy 225 intersection. We will have local law enforcement support on the feeder roads; and we are using entrance and exit points across the site based on workers’ end destinations to effectively manage flow from the site.
We also understand from HCTRA that the northbound BW-8 feeder at the Hwy 225 intersection will widen to two lanes soon and the ramps on the BW-8 southbound will open mid-October, which should help offset the flow of additional workers to and from our site.
As we begin to prepare the units for turnaround, flaring started yesterday on a few flares throughout the property. For the majority of time as maintenance work is underway, this will be hydrogen flaring. Between September 28-October 14, there is a potential for visible flaring on the west elevated flares nearest to 225 in addition to intermittent flaring of hydrogen and light hydrocarbons at other flares. We will work diligently to minimize all flaring where possible. That said, we want our community to know flaring plays a key role in keeping our plant safe. Site personnel are constantly monitoring the flares to prevent smoking. Once flared, the hydrocarbon has been safely treated and potential emissions have been reduced by at least 98%.
As we shut down and clean units, our Industrial Hygiene team is present, monitoring air quality to ensure the safety of our workers and the community.
Turnarounds benefit the regions where we operate as our workers explore the local community and contribute to small business. This year, Shell partnered with the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce to help local businesses, including hotels and restaurants, promote their services to the contract workforce. During peak turnaround activities we’ll have 6,000 workers from the U.S. Gulf Coast, with a portion coming from the Greater Houston Area. For those out of town travelers, they will rent accommodations at local hotels or bring their travel trailer and stay in a nearby RV park. Depending on their contract company’s policies and procedures, they may have blocks reserved in hotels or book independently.
In June, Economic Alliance reached out to Greater Houston Partnership to run modeling on the expected economic impact of our turnaround event. The results were: Short-term with direct and indirect impact a construction project of this size is an estimated a stimulus of over $530.9 million, due in large part to how these dollars circulate many times through our economy with contractors, suppliers, spend at local businesses, etc. Long-term, the model estimates this activity supports 1,947 indirect jobs in the Houston region (including hundreds of jobs in support industries like oil & gas exploration and extraction, wholesale trade, maintenance and repair services, truck and pipeline transportation, and numerous professional services such as engineering, accounting, employment and management); an additional 2,633 induced jobs (this includes all the jobs supported by both the wages of the retained jobs and indirect jobs in local industries like restaurants, real estate, hospitals, health services, educational services, and numerous other retailers.); and will have an annual economic impact to the region of $3.9 billion and generate millions in state and federal taxes.
In preparation for the contract workforce, Shell Deer Park set up a Visual Onboarding Center to personally onboard each contractor into Shell’s safety culture. Focusing on how to quickly get people up to speed, without losing sight of hazards and our processes, the Visual Onboarding Center consists of 10 booths showcasing the most common work scenarios that occur during a turnaround and highlight the stop-work authority that all workers have at our site. These scenarios or cases-for-action ensure onboarded workers understand critical information that they can then apply in the field. What makes this resource so powerful is the personal connection it provides – taking the safety learning experience from one-way communication to two-way conversations. Community members toured the Visual Onboarding Center in June as part of our community appreciation event. Thank you to each of our community members that toured and provided their feedback.
As always, we welcome feedback and questions from our community and a member of our site can be reached at any time by calling our community hotline: 713-246-7301. Our Site Team Leads lead our community feedback program and in addition to fielding community calls, they are out daily conducting proactive community rounds and bringing real-time sensing data from our community back into operations.
Additionally, we invite the community to engage with us on social media @ShellDeerPark on Facebook and Twitter. We have created animations which are posting this week to help explain how we are managing this event. We hope our neighbors find them helpful and we invite you to share them if they would be helpful to your organizations and audiences. (Thank you to those who already have.)
Our top priority remains operating in a safe and environmentally sound manner. We are proud to be part of the Deer Park community for 90 years and we are committed to be a good neighbor to our community for years to come. We greatly appreciate your support in the delivery of this event, as its completion will help us to maintain that commitment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me, Greg, or any other member of our Shell team.
External Relations Manager, Shell Deer Park
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