Shutdown and Turnaround: Oil and Gas Terms You Need to Know

Downtime is the enemy of revenue.

It’s why you need a reliable expedited shipping company when you have an emergency like a pipe in an oil field springing a leak.

This example is one type of downtime, but there are actually three different kinds – some planned and some unplanned.

Understanding what each of these types is – and what it means for you – can help you to avoid unnecessary delays in production.

Let’s take a closer look at these important oil and gas terms: turnarounds, shutdowns and outages.


The world is heavily dependent on oil and gas.

This reliance means that some downtime is a necessary part of the process.

There are several reasons that refinery turnaround is required:

  • Regular maintenance.
  • Renovation.
  • Refitting facilities.

Plant turnarounds usually take place every four years.

It requires a few weeks of well-organized labor – with special equipment – for everything to go smoothly.

The turnaround period is ideal for inspections, which can extend the length if any issues are found that need to be dealt with.

At this point, the turnaround becomes a shutdown.

This is not an ideal situation for several reasons. It can cause fuel shortages, price increases – or both.

It also puts pressure on other oil and gas suppliers that have to scramble to meet demands.


Remember, plant shutdowns aren’t usually planned.

They can occur due to:

  • Accidents.
  • Natural disasters.
  • Terrorist threats.
  • Political upheaval.

Or, as was already mentioned, a refinery shutdown can occur if a regular inspection turns up additional issues that need to be dealt with.

Shipping Mistakes to Avoid


While turnarounds and shutdowns occur in an effort to maintain equipment, outages happen when power supplies are interrupted, equipment fails or breaks down or deliveries don’t arrive when they should.

Fortunately, outages don’t last nearly as long as shutdowns and turnarounds.

How to plan for turnarounds and shutdowns

Good planning is essential for turnarounds and shutdowns to be as brief as possible.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Research. Look into similar companies and how they have handled turnarounds and shutdowns. It’s also a good idea to assess how these events have worked in your own company and think about what worked well and what didn’t.
  • Cooperation. All divisions and teams need to be on the same page.
  • Think ahead. Any equipment that needs maintenance, repair or replacement should be identified in advance. The resources, equipment and personnel needed for the downtime should also be prepared ahead of time.

There may still be some surprises, but you’ll be better equipped to handle any hiccups.

Getting processes back on track

No matter the reason for the downtime, it’s important to return to normal production as quickly as possible, while staying within your budget

Of course, this is more difficult when the original problem is an outage.

This is where a trusted expedited shipping service becomes a necessity.

The least amount of time you have to spend waiting around on a replacement part, for example, the less revenue you’ll lose.

Understanding oil and gas terms

Add “turnaround,” “shutdown,” and “outage” to your dictionary of terms for the oil and gas industry.

Use these definitions to gain a better understanding of the various types of downtime that can affect your business and ultimately have a negative impact on your bottom line.

Make the necessary preparations to ensure your periods of downtime aren’t catastrophic.

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