Baker & O'Brien, Inc.


Service Details

Service Details

Performance Improvement

Baker & O'Brien assists companies to maximize the performance of their existing physical assets, their finite financial resources, and their employees, thereby enhancing their competitive position.  Our expertise has been built on our consultants’ many years of “real world” experience gained through working in processing facilities around the world.  
As part of our performance improvement services, we work closely with our clients’ operations and management personnel to understand the root causes—not just the symptoms—of any sub-par performance, and give management the information it needs to take corrective measures.  Our process considers employee effectiveness by evaluating company culture, training practices, and the type, number, and effectiveness of site initiatives, thereby identifying barriers that inhibit personnel from performing at peak efficiency.  Our consultants’ expertise in incident investigation gives us a unique understanding of the potential consequences that can result from non-adherence to best practices and industry standards.

We have applied our performance improvement activities to the operations of some of the world’s largest integrated energy companies, with exceptional success.  We have also worked with many smaller, independent companies seeking to improve their competitive position through implementation of best practices.


Related Experience

Related Experience
Bankruptcy Reorganization
Developed, in conjunction with senior management, reorganization plans for various operating segments of a major trading and transport company. The resulting business plan formed the foundation of the company's successful reorganization and emergence from bankruptcy.
Operations/Maintenance, Pricing
Company Reorganization Study
Following the bankruptcy of a major Singapore-based shipyard, with significant oil interests throughout Southeast Asia, worked with the company's lenders to restructure and reorganize the company's asset base. Made visits to all major company sites and prepared report outlining current status. Recommended the disposition of non-core assets and the reorganization of core assets into a smaller and less highly leveraged entity. Following acceptance of most of recommendations by creditors' committee, company was able to successfully emerge from bankruptcy protection.
Conceptual Design of Technical Services Department
Performed a conceptual design of a Technical Services Division for a petroleum refining technology licensing company. The objective was to restructure the company's technology delivery methodology to generate improved gross margins, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and additional products and services. Advised the client on defining the critical aspects of the Technical Services Division and the best approach to designing and implementing the new group structure and function.
Project Feasibility
Crude Oil and Refined Products Business Restructuring
Assessed the viability and financial prospects of a proposed business restructuring designed to eliminate refining operations and develop pipeline supply options. The analysis results facilitated the client's successful efforts to finance and implement the restructuring plan.
Crude Oil Marketing and Trading Reorganization
Recommended organizational structure and operating practice changes to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability in the European crude oil marketing and trading arm of a major international oil company.
Commercial Terms Review, Industry Practice/Standard of Care
Crude Oil Terminal and Pipeline Study
Assisted in the site selection study for a new crude oil terminal and a pipeline connecting the terminal to an existing refinery.
Pipeline, Project Feasibility
Planning and Scheduling Improvement
Assisted an integrated oil company in improving its processes and tools for crude oil pipeline scheduling, refinery short-term planning and optimization, refinery scheduling, and performance measurement.  The initiative was part of a large, company-wide implementation of SAP and focused on improving the processes and methods of integrating data between the decision support tools and the data warehouse (SAP BW).  Tools included refinery LPs, refinery scheduling tools, assay systems, and batch pipeline scheduling software.
LP/Planning Practice
Refinery Best Practices
Analyzed multiple refineries of a major international petroleum firm to determine economic limitations and causes of performance gaps versus competitors. The study reports consisted of analyses of practices, performance targets, and recommendations for improvement initiatives. The work involved site visits, employee interviews, final reports, and presentations to company management and refinery personnel.
LP/Planning Practice, Operations/Maintenance, Product Quality
Review of Facilities Safety Issues
Assisted in technical review of safety related issues at crude oil production and gathering facilities.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, OSHA-related, Pipeline, Safety
Planning and Economics Implementation Assistance
Made an assessment of the implementation plan and "change readiness" associated with a project to improve the short-term planning, optimization, and decision-making processes for a global refining and marketing company.  Assessed key stakeholder impressions of the improvement project and provided feedback to senior management to ensure a successful outcome.
LP/Planning Practice, Operations/Maintenance
Refining Economics Course Development
Developed an outline and course material for a refinery and oil sands upgrading course to be given in-house by an operating company.
LP/Planning Practice
Products Terminal Feasibility Study
Prepared feasibility study and cost estimate to modernize and increase throughput capacity of a petroleum products terminal on the Black Sea.
Project Feasibility
Refining and Supply Strategy
Assisted the European division of a major integrated oil company in the development of a refining and supply strategy for its refining and marketing business in Western Europe.  The assignment included the benchmarking of the client's current performance versus competitors, development of future market scenarios, and projections of financial performance for various strategic initiatives that could be implemented by the refining business unit.
Petroleum Supply Planning
Assisted a major Canadian oil company in identifying improvements to its supply-chain planning process. The assignment focused on improvements that could be realized by an integrated oil company that produces, markets, and refines synthetic crude produced from oil-sands.
Study of Planning Processes
Assessed the monthly planning and optimization process and identified recommendations to address significant limitations to profitability improvement.  Reviewed the linear program model and conducted interviews of key personnel involved in the planning process, including crude selection, refinery processing, LP optimization, product distribution, and product marketing. 
LP/Planning Practice
Lube Oil Re-Refining Assessment
Prepared an assessment of lube oil re-refining plant to determine causes of problems related to reliability and operating performance.
Refinery Strategy Meeting
Conducted a kick-off session for a day-long senior level strategy meeting. Discussed the client's competitive position and the attributes of top performers.
Refining Assessment
Analyzed the profit improvement potential for an asphalt and naphthenic lube specialty refiner, which focused on the existing operating and planning practices of several refineries in the network. Recommended several zero capital cost improvements to be implemented.
LP/Planning Practice, Pricing
Reorganization of Crude Oil Trading Business
Analyzed crude trading business for potential reorganization.
Project Feasibility, Waterborne/Marine
Strategic Sourcing: Refining Materials and Services
Assisted a major, integrated oil and gas company in implementing a strategic sourcing initiative for its refining and petrochemical businesses. The initiative focused on developing a strategic and low cost supply of sulfuric acid, process chemicals, and maintenance services to the client's various refining and petrochemical facilities, which achieved cost savings of up to 25%.
Operations/Maintenance, Pricing
Wholesale Trade Practices
Assisted a South American national oil company in reviewing trade practices for the wholesale marketing of petroleum products. Advised the client on wholesale price formation and marketing practices in free markets.
Performance Improvement Initiatives in Worldwide Refineries
Helped design and direct a consulting project to identify the most successful profit improvement initiatives at top performing worldwide refineries. Audited and examined company culture, energy usage, refinery losses, personnel training, safety practices, environmental controls, process operations, technical services, administration, planning and economics, capital investments, maintenance, and reliability factors. Identified and documented those initiatives, which proved most successful, including their duration, need, and value added. Assignments were in the U.S., U.K., Romania, Korea, and West Africa.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, LP/Planning Practice, Operations/Maintenance, Pipeline, Pricing
Terminal and Pipeline Studies
Managed several competitive assessments of major crude oil and refined products logistics systems, including pipeline transportation and inland and coastal storage terminals.
Operations/Maintenance, Pipeline
Maintenance and Reliability Improvement Program
Managed the development of a client’s routine maintenance and reliability improvement program that identified areas of concern and implemented new work practices aimed at improving competitiveness. Efforts reduced maintenance costs and improved operating performance.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Pipeline
Turnaround Optimization Studies
Performed numerous turnaround optimization studies and execution reviews for refineries and petrochemical companies worldwide. Areas of focus included analyzing the work selection process, reviewing work execution schedules, evaluating the facilities preparedness to perform the turnaround, and optimizing turnaround cycles or start dates.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Pipeline
Maintenance Contracting Strategies
Worked with international clients to analyze existing maintenance and turnaround contracting strategies, contractor availability, and local cultures to identify areas of concern and develop strategies for improvement.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Pipeline
Reliability and Maintenance Continuous Improvement Initiatives
Improved efforts to eliminate equipment defects and unscheduled outages by developing and incorporating the use of reliability indices to identify problem equipment. Reliability teams were then able to prioritize concerns to focus reliability improvement initiatives in areas of highest risk to safety, operational performance, and profits. This defect elimination program was utilized as the cornerstone for the plant’s continuous improvement initiatives.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Pipeline
Performance Improvement - Petrochemicals
Assisted in a global study focused on analyzing the operating performance of steam crackers.  Participated as a member of a multi-disciplined team responsible for: reliability and operations data gathering, analysis, plant personnel interviews, and industry benchmarking of performance.  The study concluded with numerous recommendations to company senior management aimed at improving worldwide plant operational availability.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance
Shale Oil Market Study
Developed target markets, estimated values for upgraded shale oil in various U.S. refineries, and expected price netbacks to the project site. Developed crude oil supply and demand balances to determine which crude oils would be displaced and the expected pricing impacts.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Crude Oil Valuation, Pricing
Refinery Risk Assessment
Assessed the technical and commercial risks inherent in each of several refineries owned by a U.S. refining company.
Polypropylene Plant Due Diligence Support
Provided technical due diligence support for a moth-balled polypropylene plant. Evaluated capacity, historical utilization and mechanical availability and other factors.
Operations/Maintenance, Physical Asset Appraisal
Shale Oil Prefeasibility Study
Assisted client with determining the economic optimum product quality for Synthetic Crude Oil (SCO) to be produced from retorted shale oil. Determined the potential impact of various SCO qualities on refining customer process units and estimated the potential revenue changes that would result from adjustment of these qualities.
Product Quality
GTL Technology and Cost Evaluation
Evaluated the technology, cost estimate and financial model for a small scale GTL project to convert natural gas to liquid specialty products. The project evaluation included a review of the synthesis gas process, Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor technology, product recovery and product separation. The project definition and stage of development were evaluated for technology risk, cost estimate range of accuracy and suitability of the financial model assumptions.
Gas to Liquids
GTL Jet Fuel Scoping Study
On behalf of a major airline, assessed the risks and benefits involved in entering into either a jet fuel off-take agreement, or participating in project ownership. The assessment, for a number of small-scale GTL technology providers, covered the following topics: state of technology development; technical risks for project completion; likely capital costs, yields, and operating costs; market price analysis for crude oil and natural gas; and economic sensitivity analyses.
Project Feasibility
Oil Sands Technology Review
Examined a new oil sands technology for bitumen extraction to identify potential flaws and areas of risk prior to commercialization. Observed performance of and assessed sufficiency of development unit to demonstrate viability and reliability of commercial operations.
Intellectual Property, Product Quality, Project Feasibility