Tartous, SANA_ Under the bright sunshine and at various sites along the area of the Banias Refinery Company on the ground, towers, inside and outside the furnaces, the workers, technicians and engineers exert tireless efforts and continue work to complete the comprehensive overhaul of the refinery as soon as possible.
Ali Merhej, the worker at the sulfur department, spends six continuous hours of work, squatting inside a tank whose diameter does not exceed seventy centimeters, loosening the old screws, inspecting the place from the inside, to make sure of its safety, fix what needs to be repaired, and change what needs to be changed.
“I started work from the top of the tower, after we ventilated it, then entered the tower to unscrew the trays, replace them and put new screws.” Ali told SANA reporter.
With his hands covered by the black grease as a result of the maintenance of the machines, the worker Muhammad Ismail from the Department of Mechanics, with a number of his colleagues, continues the work of decoding the switches.
He explained that his shift begins daily at seven in the morning and continues until four thirty, when a second batch of his colleagues comes to complete the work until late at night in order not to stop the work.
There are many risks that workers may be exposed to, but achieving safety conditions is one of the work priorities.
Eng. Ramez Ahmed from the firefighting department, security and safety group in the distillation department, says that the risks are multiple as a result of working at high altitudes on the towers, switches and turbines, and we do not forget the groups working within the furnaces, which all take up with difficult, arduous, and long work that requires levers and experiences, here it is necessary to examine the existing gases and their nature and whether they are explosive, toxic or non-toxic, and therefore it is necessary to inspect their safety before workers enter them.
The work of the refineries in general involves many risks, as confirmed by Eng. Ahmed Saadat, the head of department of maintenance of pumps, compressors, steam turbines and fans.
He explained that their task is to perform maintenance of the tower of air distillation to be ready for work at the time of the next takeoff.
Saadat spoke about some of the risks that they are exposed to from High heat and gas inhalation, confirming that they are taking precautions.
On one of the towers and at a height of about 50 meters, engineer Ali Salloum, head of the sulfur and asphalt department in the sulfur department, monitors the tower’s maintenance operations and explains that the work requires them to take precautions and beware of the dangers that they may be exposed to, such as falling and injury to the body as a result of contact with mechanical machinery.
Safety procedures during overhaul are two types; one of which, according to Eng. Mohsen Daoud, the head of the firefighting and industrial security department, is related to the protection of workers and the other to the protection of the facility.
In the sulfur and asphalt section, where the water coolants are emptied and dismantled, and various maintenance works are carried out, Eng. Mahmoud Hassan, confirmed that the current overhaul is necessary as no maintenance of the refinery has been carried out due to the conditions of war and blockade, and that the work during the past years has been limited to partial repairs and according to holidays, so we can return to work within few days.
He added, before the start of the overhaul that began on the fifteenth of this month, there was a state of suspension of all works at the refinery for a period of five days, during which the sites were prepared to work from emptying, scavenging, cooling, damping and isolating circuits in preparation for the start of maintenance work.
The current comprehensive overhaul is necessary as a result of repeated breakdowns throughout the past years, according to the production manager Eng. Mohammad Suleiman.
The refinery has operated since 2013 without any comprehensive maintenance, he said, stressing that the volume of work is large and that the workers exert their utmost effort to complete the overhaul as quickly as possible.
With the completion of the works, it is expected that production will improve and the load will increase by 25 percent than it was before the overhaul. With the return of the refinery to the work, there will be an opportunity to secure about 90 percent of the market’s need of oil derivatives.