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December 2016

HYDROCARBONENGINEERING December 2016 www.hydrocarbonengineering.com


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CONTENTS
December 2016 Volume 21 Number 12 ISSN 1468-9340

03 Comment SoutheastAsia's petrochemical industry, examining how the region


has transformed to reap the rewards of tomorrow's technology,
05 World News today.
12 Asia Pacific: a petrochemical powerhouse
Strong economic growth and robust demand have made
59 An active enterprise 3D platform
AsiaPacific an extremely attractive area for downstream operators John Bell, INOVX Solutions, USA, explains how active 3D model
and investors in recent years. HydrocarbonEngineering reviews the platforms can assist downstream operators in improving asset
recent project developments occuring within the region's dynamic productivity and reducing maintenance costs.
petrochemical industry. 63 A model solution
22 Fuel for thought Marc Laing, NEL, UK, explores the use of computational fluid
Ale Vrblk, Jose Hidalgo and Radek ern, Unipetrol Centre for dynamics for flow modelling in oil and gas applications.
Research and Education, Czech Republic, examine methods for 66 Onshore safety standards
the assessment of marine fuel stability, in order to ensure that Paul Hill, Hill Consultants Ltd, UK, debates whether performance
clean and environmentally friendly fuels are suitable for further standards can be applied in onshore hazardous facilities.
processing.
69 The third eye in the field
27 Marvellous membranes Benedikt Eckert, Bartec GmbH, Germany, discusses how a base oil
Alex Cedillo, Honeywell UOP, USA, describes how membrane producer used explosion proof mobility solutions to effectively
module technology developed specifically for natural gas protect personnel, equipment and the environment in hazardous
applications with condensing conditions has helped to improve areas during a routine inspection.
plant performance and productivity.
73 Playing with fire
33 Weighing up the options Tim Hill and Ron Kessler, QuestIntegrity, USA, examine how the
Gary Bowerbank, Pavan Chilukuri and AlirezaZahedimanesh, varied inspection methods of fired heaters can provide the most
ShellGlobal Solutions International B.V., the Netherlands, explain comprehensive asset integrity solution.
how operators can unlock the potential of existing gas processing
assets through solvent swaps. 79 Low maintenance mechanics
Alexander Stotz, Kelvion, Germany, describes the efficiency and
39 Why amine systems fail easy cleaning characteristics of fully welded plate heat exchangers,
Philip le Grange, Mike Sheilan and Ben Spooner, Amine Experts, a based on a reboiler application in monoethylene glycol
division of Sulphur Experts, Inc., evaluate the evidence surrounding regeneration systems.
why amine systems fail in natural gas treating systems.
83 Individual standards
46 Metal management metamorphosis Peter Klotzsche, MAN Diesel & Turbo, Germany, discusses the
Brad Cook, SabinMetalsCorporation, USA, discusses how challenging market conditions facing refiners and EPC contractors,
petroleum and petrochemical refiners can enhance bottom line and explains how OEM technology systems can help improve and
profits by adjusting their precious metal management programmes. streamline downstream processes.
51 Search and identify 87 Smart design
Graham Shelver, 908 Devices, Inc., USA, discusses the use of Stephen Hiner, CLARCOR Industrial Air, UK, evaluates an effective
ballistic gas chromatography and high pressure mass spectrometry solution for the prevention of fouling in gas turbines.
to rapidly identify hydrocarbons in complex matrices.
91 Retrofit for energy savings: part two
55 Discovering digital Satyadileep Dara and Abdallah S. Berrouk, The Petroleum Institute,
Jaime Ruiz Cabrero and AsheeshSastry, The Boston Consulting UAE, continue their discussion of an amine sweetening unit retrofit
Group, Singapore, examine the ongoing digital revolution within with a split flow scheme.
96 15 facts...
This month we give you 15 festive energy and Christmas facts!

THIS Sabin outlines what really matters in balancing

MONTH'S
a companys precious metals management: best
practices in processing, sampling and analysis
to maximise metals returns; environmental

FRONT
protection, regulatory compliance and achieving
precious metals refining transparency; utilising

COVER
peripheral services that truly add value; and
aligning with the new global paradigm.

2016 Member of ABCAudit Bureau of Circulations

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COMMENT
CONTACT INFO ROSALIE STARLING, EDITOR

2
MANAGING EDITOR James Little 016 has been a turbulent year, to say the least. Historic
james.little@hydrocarbonengineering.com events such as the UKs withdrawal from the European
EDITOR Rosalie Starling Union, or Brexit, and the unexpected outcome of the
rosalie.starling@hydrocarbonengineering.com US presidential election have rocked the political world
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Francesca Brindle and the entire world for that matter and the oil and gas
francesca.brindle@hydrocarbonengineering.com industry has remained on constant tenterhooks as crude prices
ADVERTISEMENT DIRECTOR Rod Hardy linger on shaky ground. However, as the year draws to a close,
rod.hardy@hydrocarbonengineering.com now is the time to look to the future.
ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER Chris Atkin Accordingly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its World Energy Outlook2016
chris.atkin@hydrocarbonengineering.com
(WEO-2016), reviewing the movement of global energy systems to 2040. Reassuringly, the analysis
ADVERTISEMENT EXECUTIVE Will Powell finds that the era of fossil fuels appears far from over, although government policies, as well as cost
will.powell@hydrocarbonengineering.com
reductions across the energy sector, will enable a huge push in the renewables arena, as well as
ADVERTISEMENT EXECUTIVE David Ramsden improvements in energy efficiency, over the next 25years.
david.ramsden@hydrocarbonengineering.com
However, an energy mix makeover also brings its fair share of security risks. Concerns related
DIGITAL EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Angharad Lock to oil and gas supply remain, and are reinforced by a decline in investment levels. In the longer
angharad.lock@hydrocarbonengineering.com
term, investment in oil and gas will be absolutely essential to meet demand and replace declining
PRODUCTION Ben Munro production, but the growth in renewables and energy efficiency will diminish the need for oil and
ben.munro@hydrocarbonengineering.com
gas imports in a number of countries. Increased LNG shipments will also change how gas security is
WEB MANAGER Tom Fullerton
tom.fullerton@hydrocarbonengineering.com
perceived, according to the WEO-2016. Meanwhile, the changeable nature of renewables in power
generation (wind and solar in particular) necessitates a specific focus on the security of electricity.
WEB EDITOR Callum OReilly
callum.oreilly@hydrocarbonengineering.com The analysis notes the growth of global oil demand until 2040, mostly due to the lack of
'easy' alternatives to oil in areas such as road freight, aviation and petrochemicals. But, despite
SUBSCRIPTIONS Laura White
laura.white@hydrocarbonengineering.com this, demand from passenger vehicles is expected to decline, even as their number doubles in the
next 25 years, due to marked improvements in efficiency, an increased use of biofuels and rising
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Nancy Yamaguchi Gordon Cope ownership of electric cars.
Of course, the much-celebrated Paris Agreement, a major step in the fight against global
warming, takes a leading role in the outlook, but meeting these ambitious climate goals will be
SUBSCRIPTION RATES
Annual subscription 110 UK including a tremendous challenge for both developed and developing economies with huge pushes in
postage/125 overseas (postage airmail). the area of decarbonisation and efficiency required. According to IEA data, the implementation
Two year discounted rate 176 UK including
postage/200 overseas (postage airmail). of current international pledges will only slow down the projected rise in energy-related carbon
SUBSCRIPTION CLAIMS
emissions from an average of 650 million tpy since 2000 to around 150million tpy in 2040.
Claims for non receipt of issues must be made within 3 months While this is an achievement to be proud of, it is far from enough only limiting the rise in
of publication of the issue or they will not be honoured without
charge. average global temperatures to 2.7C by 2100. The mission to attain 2C is very tough, but feasible,
APPLICABLE ONLY TO USA & CANADA
if policies to accelerate further low carbon technologies and energy efficiency are established
Hydrocarbon Engineering (ISSN No: 1468-9340, effectively across all sectors, resulting in a peak in carbon emissions over the next few years, and
USPS No: 020-998) is published monthly by Palladian
Publications Ltd GBR and distributed in the USA by Asendia the global economy becoming carbon neutral by the end of the century. A simple example from
USA, 17B S Middlesex Ave, Monroe NJ 08831. Periodicals
postage paid New Brunswick, NJ and additional mailing offices. the WEG-2016 illustrates the scale of this challenge. In the 2C scenario, the number of electric
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cars would need to exceed 700 million by 2040, and displace more than 6 million bpd of oil
demand ambitions to further limit temperature gains, beyond 2C, would require even bigger
efforts.
Efficiency and emissions reduction are, of course, vital issues that must be addressed to ensure
the long term health of our planet, and its residents. However, the analysis is clear in its view that
15 South Street Farnham Surrey
GU97QU ENGLAND fossil fuels still, undeniably, remain king. This, and the fact that our industry is constantly thinking
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 718 999 up new and innovative ways of advancing emissions reduction technologies I had the pleasure
Fax: +44 (0) 1252 718 992 of witnessing some of these innovations myself at the ERTC 21st Annual Meeting in Lisbon in
November is certainly a comforting notion looking forward.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all of our
authors, advertisers and readers for your continued support in 2016. On behalf of the whole
HydrocarbonEngineering team, I wish you all a very relaxing and gratifying holiday season and a
happy New Year!
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WORLD NEWS
North America | Operator training Polyethylene
USA |
capacity increase
A refinery in North America has
commissioned and installed a
to safely practice plant shutdowns
and startups, hone responses to
high fidelity STRATCO operator
training simulator (OTS) for two
potential emergencies and improve
troubleshooting skills in a realistic
E xxonMobil is planning to add a
new production unit at its
Beaumont polyethylene plant that
sulfuric acid alkylation units. The yet consequence free environment.
OTS was specifically developed and DuPont also offers instruction will increase capacity by 65%
fully customised by DuPont Clean and training that leverage the OTS (650000 tpy). Construction of the
Technologies over a seven month platform as well as STRATCO unit has begun at the plant, where
period. It encompasses the entire alkylation technology expertise. At current production capacity is
refinery alkylation operation from the time of product delivery, DuPont 1million tpy. Startup is due in 2019.
feed preparation to product storage. included one full week of ExxonMobil is investing billions of
An operator training simulator OTSenhanced operator training for dollars along the US Gulf Coast to
allows the alkylation plant operator a class of 12 operators and engineers. help meet growing global energy
demand. This will not only expand
Vietnam | Improving refinery efficiency existing refining and chemical
capacity, but also stimulate economic

H oneywell has announced that a expertise to improve all aspects of growth and create jobs it could
subsidiary of PetroVietnam will industrial operations from supply create more than 28 000 temporary
use its new IIoT-based Connected chain efficiency to asset jobs in construction and more than
Performance Services (CPS) offering optimisation. 1200 permanent jobs over the next
to improve the performance of CPS gives refineries and few years and beyond.
itsmanufacturing operations in petrochemical and gas processing The Beaumont project builds on
QuangNgai City, Vietnam. plants greater visibility into their supply advantages created by
Binh Son Refining and operations. Problems that reduced ExxonMobils expansion of its
Petrochemical Co., Ltd (BSR) will use plant efficiency and productivity, and MontBelvieu plastics plant in Texas,
Honeywells CPS technology, which that persistently avoided detection, where two similar polyethylene units
integrates Honeywell UOPs deep can be quickly identified and are being added. Combined, this
process knowledge to improve resolved using recommendations multibillion dollar investment will
refinery and plant performance, at its from CPS. As a result, plants can increase the companys US
naphtha complex. CPS is part of produce more and avoid unplanned polyethylene production by 40%, or
Honeywells Connected Plant shutdowns for maintenance and nearly 2million tpy, making Texas the
initiative, which leverages IIoT repair, resulting in millions of dollars largest polyethylene supply point for
technologies, services and domain per year in increased productivity. ExxonMobil.

The Netherlands | New polypropylene pilot plant

S ABIC will have a new pilot plant


for the development of next
generation polypropylenes (PP)
manufacturing campus in
SittardGeleen. The company opened
a new research facility there in May.
SABIC is looking in particular to
develop grades with improved
stiffness/impact, flow properties and
onstream in Sittard-Geleen, SABIC is taking a fast track other specific secondary properties
theNetherlands, by the end of approach to construction and needed in different industries. SABIC
March2017. The plant, which will use installation of the pilot plant. It has plans to concentrate on the
gas phase polymerisation technology, contracted the work to Zeton, which development of impact grades of
will support the production at nearby has developed a skid-mounted polypropylene, as well as random
full scale plants of superior materials system that accelerates copolymers and homopolymers. It
that meet the needs of the different implementation times and allows full will also carry out experiments on
industries such as automotive, pipe, design flexibility. Installation will advanced catalysts. The plant will
appliances and advanced packaging. begin in December after Zeton has complement pilot plants used by
The pilot plant is the latest in a built and tested the plant in Enschede SABIC at other strategic locations,
series of investments being made by before partially disassembling it into and would support the strategic
SABIC at the Brightlands Chemelot around 15 modules for delivery to innovation initiatives to address
research and development (R&D) and Geleen. continuously evolving market needs.

HYDROCARBON 5 December 2016


ENGINEERING
WORLD NEWS
IN BRIEF Canada | Water treatment project

saudi arabia S eeking to reduce the use of water in


the refining process, and as a way of
minimising its environmental impact on
balance targets are met, but will also
maintain the reliability of its various
assets by protecting them from
KBR, Inc. has announced that its Saudi Arabian the North Saskatchewan River, North deposition and corrosion.
joint venture engineering operation, KBRAMCDE, West Redwater (NWR) Partnership has The Sturgeon refinery project is the
has signed an amendment to extend its existing selected GEs Water & Process worlds only refinery designed from the
General Engineering Services Plus (GES+) contract Technologies for its new Sturgeon ground up to incorporate gasification
with Saudi Aramco. KBR will provide front refinery in Alberta, Canada. and a carbon capture and storage
end engineering design (FEED), detailed design, To minimise the use of freshwater, GE solution while producing cleaner, high
material procurement and project management will provide efficient water treatment value products. NWR undertook a
services (PMS) to support Saudi Aramco's capital systems with process water from the collaborative approach to project
programmes in Saudi Arabia. refinery being treated and recycled development and selected companies
multiple times. Surface water runoff from with best in class technologies, vetting
usa the facility will be contained in the them to ensure commercial
Wood Group has been awarded a US$40 million retention ponds and used for process competitiveness within their respective
contract by ExxonMobil Chemical to provide main purposes to reduce the water withdrawal areas of expertise. NWR then partnered
automation contractor services for a grassroots from the North Saskatchewan River. The with the selected organisations to
polyethylene plant to be built in Beaumont, ultrafiltration and membrane bioreactor develop a 'fit for purpose' design. This
Texas. Wood Group completed the front end technology allow NWR to meet its unique approach eliminated costly
engineering design (FEED) for the process control unique recycling challenges. Chemistry redesign steps for a project of this
systems in 2015. Zachry Group has also been and onsite technical support from GE will nature, thus reducing project cost and
chosen to support ExxonMobil's 650 000 tpy not only ensure that the facilities water improving the overall project schedule.
Beaumont polyethylene expansion, which began
in 4Q16. Zachry will provide constructability and Russia | Benzene unit modernisation
execution planning, electrical and instrumentation
design, and direct hire responsibilities for in-plant
construction, which is scheduled to be completed G TC Technology has signed an
agreement with PJSC
Nizhnekamskneftekhim (NKNK) to
NKNK to lower the cost of producing high
purity benzene, and also recover
nonaromatics to be used as cracker feed.
in early 2019.
provide its GT-BTX licensed technology GTC will revamp the existing second stage
australia for the modernisation of a benzene
production facility at NKNKs EP-600
pygas hydrotreating unit to process 30%
more feed, and design a new GT-BTX unit
BPs Kwinana refinery has selected the cracker plant in Nizhnekamsk, Republic with post-fractionation. Scope of supply
HR1246CoMo catalyst from Axens following of Tatarstan, Russia. includes the basic engineering package,
results of pilot plant tests conducted by BPs The new GT-BTX unit will process a technical services, proprietary catalyst,
Refining Technology & Engineering Groups, full range C6 - C8 cut after the first stage solvent and equipment. Startup is planned
and a subsequent tendering process. Due to its pygas hydrotreating unit and will allow for 2017.
intrinsic high activity, HR 1246 will be associated
with regenerated HR 626 and enable a less than
10wppm sulfur diesel product while reducing the
USA | LNG bunker facility contract

M
cost to fill. The project marks Axens' hundredth atrix Service Company's subsidiary, managed by Oaktree Capital
Impulse catalyst award in ultra low sulfur diesel Matrix Service, has been awarded Management, L.P. and Clean Marine
(ULSD) service. the engineering, procurement, Energy LLC. JAX LNG is the long term
fabrication and construction of a supplier of LNG to the world's first LNG
france 2million gal. LNG tank for the JAX LNG dual fuel container ships, the Isla Bella
Wrtsil has signed a Memorandum of Bunker Facility, a new LNG liquefaction and Perla del Caribe, operated by TOTE
Understanding (MoU) with ENGIE to develop and storage facility located at Dames Maritime Puerto Rico.
solutions and services within the small scale LNG Point near the Port of Jacksonville. The JAX LNG facility is expected to
business sector. The cooperation covers four work JAXLNG is a joint venture formed by be operational in the fourth quarter of
streams: LNG for ships, LNG distribution in islands Pivotal LNG, a wholly owned subsidiary 2017. Once completed, it will be capable
and remote areas, LNG to power solutions, and of Southern Company Gas, NorthStar of producing more than 120 000 gal./d
small scale LNG and bioliquefaction. Midstream, LLC, a midstream of LNG, which will be stored in the
transportation company backed by funds 2milliongal. cryogenic storage tank.

December 2016 6 HYDROCARBON


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WORLD NEWS
IN BRIEF Russia | Complete integrated fuel development

oman G enoil, Inc. has announced the signing


of a US$50 billion letter of intent
(LoI) to develop oilfields and construct
desulfurisation, demetalisation and
denitrogenisation conversion rates, and
increase operating efficiencies by 75%.
Oman Oil Company S.A.O.C. (OOC) and Kuwait
Petroleum International Ltd (KPI) have signed clean technology upgraders, refineries The parties involved will also explore
a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to and pipelines in Russia. The project will linking this new project to existing
cooperate on the development of the Duqm incorporate Genoil's efficient clean pipeline networks in the region. The
Refinery and Petrochemical Complex in the Duqm technology hydroconversion (GHU) finance will be provided in full from
Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Oman's Al Wusta process, and mark the second time that Chinese banks to the Russian companies
Governorate. The refinery, once completed, the company will have provided a involved.
will have the capacity to process 230 000bpd complete integrated project, from the Genoil will be responsible for the
of crude oil that will serve both local and development of oilfields to the design and construction of 6 million tpy
international markets. production of cleaner fuels. The scope of of new refinery capacity in Chechnya,
the project is to produce 3.5 million bpd. and will organise a large consortium of
Genoil's hydroconversion process Chinese engineering and services
romania improves upon the existing data verified companies to provide all the necessary
Black Sea Oil & Gas SRL (BSOG) has awarded, fixed bed hydroconversion technology, support and project guarantees.
together with its co-venture partners, the which is used worldwide. Currently, 85% The LoI has been signed by the
contract for the front end engineering and design of all desulfurisation is taking place President of the Board of Directors of
(FEED) of its offshore and onshore facilities for worldwide via hydroconversion. Genoil's Grozneft, a former official in the
the development of the Ana and Doina Gas investment into hydroconversion administrative department of the Russian
Discoveries on the XV Midia Shallow Block, projects can significantly increase the Federation.
offshore of Romania (the Midia Gas Development
Project). Offshore and onshore FEED services will Azerbaijan | Petrochemical facility modernisation
be provided by Xodus Group, which consist of a
wellhead platform, an in-field and offshore export
pipeline, an onshore pipeline, and a gas treatment
plant.
T echnip has been awarded a contract
for engineering, procurement and
construction (EPC) services by SOCAR for
and offsite facilities.
In addition, the project includes the
modernisation of the instrumentation
its Azerikimya plant, located in the city of and new control system. It also covers
south africa Sumgait. The scope of work includes: the
modernisation of the EP-300 steam
control building in order to improve the
overall efficiency and safety of the
Sasol has completed another major capital
investment in South Africa as part of its
cracker with construction of new cracker plant.
dualregional, multi-asset hub growth strategy
furnaces licensed by Technip; and the Technips operating centre in Rome,
in Southern Africa and North America. The
installation of a new refinery dry gas Italy, will execute the contract, scheduled
company unveiled the C3 Expansion Project,
treatment unit, new ethylene and to be completed during the first half of
which enables Sasol to increase its polypropylene
propylene storage and related utilities 2019.
production capacity by 103 000 tpy from its
Secunda Chemicals operations, while also realising
Pakistan | Refinery power plant project

M
improvements in environmental impact.
AN Diesel & Turbo and Hyundai responsible for the construction of the
Engineering (HEC) have completed plant, whilst MAN took over the design
middle east the extension of a power plant in Pakistan and delivery of the engines and
A Middle Eastern refinery has selected outdoor for Attock Refinery Limited (ARL). The accessories, as well as the training of the
shelters using a combination of Intertec's passive plant, located northeast of Rawalpindi, is operating personnel.
and active cooling technologies to protect its vital powered by heavy fuel oil (HFO) and Rawalpindi is situated in the Punjab
control systems. The environmental protection supplies electricity to a refinery. region, only a few kilometres southwest of
solution is being provided as part of an upgrade Three MAN 14V32/40 gensets generate the capital city, Islamabad. Together, the
to the burner management systems at the core 18 MW of electrical power for the two cities comprise one of the countrys
of the plant's refining processes. High reliability processes in the refinery. This equates to largest industrial centres. Also located in
PLC-based systems will provide the control and the electricity demand of approximately Rawalpindi are the headquarters of the
safety functions needed for management of eight 30 000 households. Hyundai, as an Attock group, one of the most important
separate burners. engineering, procurement and businesses within the oil and gas industry
construction (EPC) service provider, was in Pakistan.

December 2016 8 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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WORLD NEWS
DIARY DATES IEA | Enhancing global gas security
22 - 24 January
MERTC: Middle East Refining Technology Conference
W hile the rise of the LNG market
has accelerated the globalisation
of natural gas, the energy security
period of low oil and gas prices could
further worsen the situation.
However, LNG contract structures
Manama, Bahrain
Tel: +971 4 435 6101
implications of this transformation have are becoming less rigid, increasing
Email: kay.mitchell@clarionevents.me attracted much less attention. The new market liquidity. In 2015, about 40% of
Global Gas Security Review from the LNG contracts had fixed destination
21 - 23 February International Energy Agency (IEA) seeks terms, down from 60% for contracts
ME-TECH 2017 to provide more transparency into the signed up to the year 2014.
Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai LNG market. While shorter term contracts are
Tel: +971 (0)4 421 4642 There is no doubt that global gas gradually becoming more common,
Email: laura@europetro-me.com markets are well supplied today. While buyers are also accepting longer
this is positive for global gas security, contracts in exchange for increased
26 February - 1 March IEA warns that LNG markets are less flexibility in the final destination in
Laurance Reid Gas Conditioning Conference
flexible than is commonly believed. order to better respond to market
University of Oklahoma, Norman C
A growing share of LNG capacity is conditions. Flexible contractual
Tel: 405.325.3136
Email: hreichert@ou.edu
offline, meaning the market has less structures are important for gas M

extra capacity than assumed. Between security as they enable the aggregation Y

19 - 21 March 2011 and 2016, the level of unusable of gas volumes at a lower cost from
export capacity has doubled, disabling various regions.
CM

AFPM Annual Meeting


Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio, Texas about 65billion m3 of gas, which is LNGs share of the global gas market MY

Tel: 202-457-0480 equal to the combined exports of is set to increase in the coming years, CY

Email: meetings@afpm.org Malaysia and Indonesia, the worlds with LNG supplies having grown at a
third and fifth largest exporters. A faster pace than total gas consumption.
CMY

26 - 30 March K

NACE Corrosion Conference & Expo 2017


New Orleans, Louisiana
API | Petroleum and gasoline demand trends
Tel: +1 281-228-6223
Email: firstservice@nace.org

26 - 30 March
T otal petroleum deliveries in
October moved up 3% from
October 2015 to average
down from the prior month, but up
from the prior year, and the prior year
to date. Total motor gasoline deliveries,
SOGAT 2017 20.1millionbpd, and were the highest a measure of consumer gasoline
Abu Dhabi, UAE October deliveries in nine years, since demand, moved up 0.2 % from
Tel: +971 2 674 4040 2007. For year to date, total domestic October2015 to 9.3millionbpd. These
Email: nerie@domeexhibitions.com petroleum deliveries moved up 0.3% were the lowest deliveries since April,
compared to the same period last year. but remained the second highest
28 - 30 March Gasoline deliveries in October were October deliveries on record.
StocExpo Europe
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Tel: +44 (0)20 8843 8835 EIA | Record natural gas storage levels
Email: amy@stocexpo.com

29 - 30 March
ARTC: Asian Refining Technology Conference
W orking natural gas in storage
reached a record high of
4017billion ft3 as of 4 November,
the 2016 injection season) above the
previous five year maximum.
The injection season for natural gas
Jakarta, Indonesia according to US Energy Information storage typically runs from April
Tel: +971 4 435 6101 Administration (EIA) data. Inventories through October, although net natural
Email: kay.mitchell@clarionevents.me have been relatively high throughout gas injections sometimes continue for
the year, surpassing previous five year several weeks during November. The
18 - 20 April highs in 48 of the past 52 weeks. previous record for natural gas storage
NISTM 19th Annual International Aboveground
Storage Tank Conference & Trade Show Declining natural gas production was set at 4009 billion ft3 for the week
Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel, Florida and strong demand from the power ending 20 November 2015. This year,
Tel: 011.813.600.4024 sector were offset by a warmer than natural gas inventories have been
Email: mail@nistm.org usual winter, which left natural gas relatively high in almost every natural
inventories in April (the beginning of gas storage region in EIAs survey.

December 2016 10 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING

Advanced FIBER FILM Contactor Technology

Reduce
Costs
Improve
Efficiencies
Introducing FFC Plus, the next generation of FIBER FILM Contactor technology. Merichem Companys advanced FIBER
FILM technology with an integrated coalescer and treater pushes the boundaries of extractive technologies. With this latest
advancement to Merichems proven technology, hydrocarbon treating rates can be increased by up to 150% through
increased mercaptan extraction efficiency. The integrated coalescing and treating device offers a simple installation,
reduced chemical use, and reduced service and maintenance complexity. FFC Plus truly is mercaptan treating made better.

Improved Treating Rates


The FFC Plus technology from Merichem delivers increased capacity and more efficient sulfur extraction treating of
hydrocarbons. This technology enables higher through-put within smaller equipment and better turndown at no
additional cost. Process changes and upsets are also handled more effectively without affecting product quality.

Reduced Carryover
Merichems advanced FIBER FILM technology provides enhanced coalescing of both liquid phases that improves
separation efficiency and reduces contaminant carryover. These features protect downstream equipment and catalysts.

Reduced Plot Space


The higher capacity and efficiency of FFC Plus translates into reduced equipment sizes and plot space. This reduces
project capital and lowers plant operating costs.

Existing Merichem or other treating units can be easily retrofitted with FFC Plus, providing up to 150% additional capacity.
This capacity increase will not affect the existing turndown range of Merichem units and will improve the turndown of other
units. The new contactor is a direct drop-in replacement that can be added or switched with minimal modifications within
a short shutdown period.
Strong economic growth and robust demand have made AsiaPacific
an extremely attractive area for downstream operators and
investors in recent years. HydrocarbonEngineering reviews the
recent project developments occuring within the region's dynamic
petrochemical industry.

Beijing Central Business District, China.

December 2016 12 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
A PETROCHEMICAL POWERHOUSE
A
sia Pacific is, and will be for years to come, an area of will constitute the first phase of Connel Chemical Industry Ltds
great importance in the global oil, gas and 600 000 tpy MTO plant. The two parties also signed a licensing
petrochemicals market. According to the WorldBanks and process design package (PDP) contract for Wisons proprietary
'East Asia Pacific Economic Update, October 2016', olefin separation technology. The project will utilise an integrated
growth in the developing East Asia and Pacific region is expected solution that leverages UOPs MTO+OCP (olefin cracking process)
to remain resilient over the next three years. China is expected to technology and Wisons high recovery olefin separation
continue its gradual transition to slower but more sustainable technology. Wison will be responsible for the engineering, design,
growth, from 6.7% this year to 6.5% in 2017 and 6.3% in 2018. procurement and construction of the MTO reaction and
Meanwhile, in the rest of developing East Asia, growth is concentration unit, the olefin separation unit, the olefin cracking
projected to remain stable at 4.8% this year, and rise to 5% in 2017 unit and additional auxiliaries. The project is scheduled to be
and 5.1% in 2018. Overall, developing East Asia is expected to grow delivered in October 2017.
at 5.8% in 2016 and 5.7% in 2017 - 2018.1
While the region still faces significant risks to growth, Dongying Qirun Chemical
including sluggish movement in advanced economies, subdued In October 2016, Honeywell announced that Dongying Qirun
prospects in most developing economies and stagnant global Chemical Co., Ltd would license Honeywell UOP's UnicrackingTM
trade, the World Bank expects domestic demand to remain technology for the production of diesel and naphtha at its
robust across much of the region, with continued low commodity refinery in Shandong Province to meet growing domestic demand
prices benefiting importers and keeping inflation low across most for transportation fuels. UOP will also provide engineering,
of the region. startup services, equipment and catalysts. Qirun Chemical is
These indications of healthy economic growth and increasing located in Dongying City in the Yellow River Delta.
domestic consumption have attracted substantial investment
throughout the region, providing a major boost to the Handi Sunshine Petrochemical
downstream sector. In August 2016, Honeywell UOP and ExxonMobil declared a
The majority of the worlds largest refineries are situated technology licensing agreement with Hainan Handi Sunshine
within the Asia Pacific region, and the top five facilities in this part Petrochemical Co., Ltd, marking the first project in China under
of the world produce some 4 million bpd of oil.2 Accordingly, the a joint marketing alliance for premium fuels and lubricants
region also holds a wealth of petrochemical infrastructure and between the two technology providers. The integrated UOP
resources, and is receiving more and more attention from regional and ExxonMobil technology platform enables Handi Sunshine
and global players. to meet growing demand in China for cleaner burning jet fuel
In March 2016, research and consulting firm GlobalData and diesel along with high quality Group II/III base oils. UOPs
released research showing that global petrochemicals capacity Unicracking technology and ExxonMobils MSDWTM catalytic
would grow considerably over the next five years, increasing from lubes de-waxing technology will be installed at the Hainan
1464 million tpy in 2015 to 1708 million tpy by 2020. Around facility.
647planned projects are due to come online in the next five years,
driven primarily by China, the US and Iran. Asia is home to over Hebei Zhongjie Petrochemical
half of all planned projects, with China responsible for 176 projects, In January 2016, Hebei Zhongjie Petrochemical and Genoil,Inc. of
and is set to have a total capacity of 64 million tpy by 2019.3 Canada signed a contract and announced plans to establish a new
Below, Hydrocarbon Engineering provides an overview of company, Dora Energy Technology Company, that will construct
major contract and project announcements and updates that one of the world's most advanced heavy oil refineries, utilising
have come to light over the past 12 months, and will continue to Genoil's GHU technology. Hebei Zhongjie Petrochemical has
enhance the regions petrochemical sector and capabilities. already invested CNY25 million to date and the parties have
completed a new feasibility study and the technological
Petrochemical project round up selection required for the refinery project. A Chinese engineering
firm has also been selected. The feasibility study encompasses all
China economic calculations, including the capital costs, the operating
costs and necessary factors, as part of the package required by
Connel Chemical Industry the Chinese lending source. The required feedstock has been
In August 2016, Wison Engineering disclosed that it had been lined up and the sales of necessary contracts for finished
awarded an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) products, sufficient to amortise the loan from the bank, will be
contract for a 300 000 tpy methanoltoolefins (MTO) unit that organised.

HYDROCARBON 13 December 2016


ENGINEERING
Hengli Petrochemical utilise locally available coal feedstocks, to be supplied by SNCG.
In February 2016, Hengli Petrochemical Co., Ltd selected Axens to The PDA provides a basis for the parties to conduct a joint
supply technologies for its petrochemical project, to be located at feasibility study on the project within three years, starting from
Changxing Island in Liaoning Province. The crude to paraxylene the date when the agreement became effective, and, subject to a
complex, with a processing capacity of 400 000 bpd of crude, will positive outcome, to prepare and submit the materials necessary
supply high purity paraxylene to purified terephthalic acid (PTA) to obtain project application report (PAR) approval from the
plants for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) application. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
complex includes a final conversion refinery oriented towards the
production of naphtha and an aromatic complex to maximise high Shaanxi Future Energy Chemical
purity paraxylene production. The new complex will be the largest In April 2016, it was reported that a facility in Yulin City would
site in the world for the production of high purity paraxylene, install GEs advanced zero liquid discharge (ZLD) technology to
along with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), gasoline and diesel fuels help meet new regulations governing wastewater treatment at
(meeting China 5 specifications), jet fuel and base lube oils. Chinese coal-to-chemical plants. GEs ZLD evaporator and
crystalliser system will eliminate liquid discharge of waste and
In March 2016, DuPont Clean Technologies announced that Hengli enable water reuse at the Shaanxi Future Energy Chemical Co., Ltd
Petrochemical Co., based in Dalian, had awarded the company a coal-to-chemical plant in Shaanxi Province. GEs wastewater
contract to supply the alkylation and spent acid regeneration treatment system includes a vapour recompression brine
(SAR) technologies for the new grassroots refinery in the concentrator followed by a crystalliser, providing a proven and
Changxing Island Harbour Industrial Zone. The contract includes cost effective ZLD solution. The equipment is expected to be
the license and engineering design packages for the STRATCO delivered in mid-2016, with commissioning in March 2017. Once
alkylation and MECS SAR units. Installation of the new units at operational, the HongDun wastewater treatment facility will treat
Hengli is currently planned for 2018, with startup anticipated in wastewater feed at a rate of 40 m3/hr.
2019. The grassroots refinery complex, with the addition of
STRATCO alkylation technology, will allow Hengli to produce a Shandong Luqing Petrochemical
highquality alkylate product from a 100% isobutylene feed In May 2016, Honeywell issued a release stating that Shandong
stream. Luqing Petrochemical Co. had accepted performance of Chinas
first standalone Honeywell UOP C4OleflexTM process unit,
Jiaxing Petrochemical producing 170 000 tpy of isobutylene. The unit, located in
In September 2016, Servomex reported that it had been selected Shandong Province, will support the growing demand for fuel and
by Jiaxing Petrochemical Co., Ltd to supply a complete analyser petrochemicals in Chinas industrial sector. In addition to licensing,
system for the second phase development of its purified Honeywell UOP provided the engineering design, catalysts,
terephthalic acid (PTA) production facility in Zhejiang Province. adsorbents, speciality equipment, staff training and technical
Four years after supplying a system for phase one of the project, service for the project.
Servomex will supply the plant with three Servotough Oxy 1900
oxygen and three Servotough SpectraExact 2500 toxic gas Shenhua Ningxia Project
analysers. These will be integrated into a bespoke analyser house, In March 2016, Air Products' PRISM Membranes division in
designed and built at Servomexs Systems Integration Facility at the SaintLouis, Missouri, received a significant order to provide a large
companys Asia Pacific Business Centre in Shanghai. quantity of membrane separators to the Ningdong Energy and
Chemical Industry Base in Ningxia for use as part of the Shenhua
Nanhai Petrochemical Complex Ningxia coal-to-liquids project. The membranes will be part of a
In March 2016, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) and hydrogen purification and recycling operation that is expected to
Shell Nanhai B.V. announced the final investment decision (FID) to start up in late 2016. The membrane separators contain polymeric
expand CNOOC and Shell Petrochemical Companys (CSPC's) hollow fibres that use selective permeation under differential
existing 50:50 joint venture in Huizhou, Guangdong Province. pressure to separate hydrogen from methane, carbon monoxide
Subject to regulatory approvals, CNOOC and Shell have agreed and other hydrocarbons.
that CSPC should take over CNOOCs ongoing project to build
additional chemical facilities next to CSPCs petrochemical Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Company
complex. The project comprises the construction of a new In May 2016, Honeywell announced that the first commercial
ethylene cracker and ethylene derivatives units, which will increase installation of its UOP MaxEne Process successfully entered
ethylene capacity by more than 1 million tpy. It will also include a production at Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Companys (YPC's)
styrene monomer and propylene oxide (SMPO) plant. Shell will integrated refinery and petrochemical facility in Nanjing. The
apply its proprietary OMEGA, SMPO and polyols technologies to new technology generates substantially higher yields of the
produce 150 000 tpy of ethylene oxide, 480000tpy of ethylene chemical components used to make plastics, and has processed
glycol and 600 000 tpy of high quality polyols. more than 2.5 million t of naphtha feed since entering
production, meeting all of its performance criteria. The facility is
Ningxia Petrochemical Complex a cooperative project between the company and Sinopec to
In May 2016, SABIC signed a project development agreement (PDA) jointly commercialise the process based on Honeywell UOPs
with Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group Co., Ltd (SNCG), a pilot plant technology. In addition to licensing, UOP provided
subsidiary of Shenhua Group Corporation Ltd, for the potential the basic engineering, key equipment, adsorbents and technical
joint development of a greenfield petrochemical complex to be support for the unit.
located in the Ningxia Hui Region. The parties would proceed with
further actions to implement the project in the event of a positive Yanshan Petrochemical Complex
FID, and subject to obtaining all necessary governmental approvals. In July 2016, it was announced that Sinopec had chosen Veolia,
The joint venture would benefit from its location in Ningxia and through its subsidiary Veolia China, to operate the entire water

December 2016 14 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Latest News
CADWorx

2017
Plant Professional

UP TO 30%
SUNOCO LOGISTICS TO ACQUIRE ENERGY TRANSFER FASTER
Sunoco Logistics Partners, L.P. (SXL) and Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (ETP) have
MODELING
& SMARTER
entered into a merger agreement providing for the acquisition of ETP by SXL
in a unit for unit transaction. The transaction is expected to provide greater

DESIGN
opportunities to more closely integrate SXLs natural gas liquids (NGLs) business
with ETPs natural gas gathering, processing and transportation business.

GLOBAL BIOFUEL ADDITIVES MARKET REPORT


Intergraph CADWorx Plant Professional

According to a new report by Allied Market Research, 'World Biofuel Additives makes the creation of intelligent plant
Market', the biofuel additives market is projected to reach US$12 560 million by designs quick and easy. It has helped rms
2022, registering a CAGR of 15.3% from 2016 to 2022. The biofuel additives market produce the high-quality deliverables their
customers have come to rely on for over
has grown tremendously in the recent past due to an increase in acceptance and
fteen years.
performance of first and second generation biofuels globally.
Capabilities
GAZPROM'S DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME APPROVED AutoCAD -Based

The Gazprom Management Committee has approved the Comprehensive Targeted Intelligent 3D Piping Design
Specication-driven Design
Programme for the retrofitting, reconstruction and development of automated
On-the-y Collision Checking
process control systems at the company's facilities between 2017 and 2021. The Structural Steel
programme will include the upgrade or replacement of outdated automation Equipment
equipment in gas treatment units, compressor stations and gas processing plants. Ducting/Cable Trays
ISOGEN Isometrics
P&ID Creation and Links
RISK OF SILO WORKING IN THE PROCESS INDUSTRIES Links to Stress Analysis
Design Review
ABB has launched a new white paper that raises concerns of an increased risk of
major accident hazards due to significant levels of silo working in the process
www.intergraph.com/go/cadworx
industries. Process safety performance within the high hazard industry is being
threatened by the silo factor an inability within process safety management
circles to collaborate and be consistent across all departments in an organisation.


2016 Intergraph Corporation. All rights reserved. Intergraph
is part of Hexagon. Intergraph and the Intergraph logo are
For further information go to: registered trademarks of Intergraph Corporation or its subsidiaries

www.hydrocarbonengineering.com in the United States and in other countries. AutoCAD is a registered


trademark of Autodesk, Inc.
cycle of its Yanshan Petrochemical Complex. Located 50 km Malaysia
from downtown Beijing, Yanshan Petrochemical is a fully owned
subsidiary of Sinopec. The complex is one of the largest Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated
production bases of synthetic rubber, synthetic resin, phenol Development (RAPID) Project
acetone and high quality refined oil products in China. It In April 2016, MECS DynaWave technology, licensed by
processes over 10 million t of crude oil and produces MECS,Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont, was chosen by
800000tpy of ethylene. It can produce 94 varieties with international oil and gas services provider Petrofac for the
431grades of petrochemical products. Veolia and Yanshan have installation of three custom engineered scrubbing systems for
chosen to expand the scope of their partnership to the entirety sulfur dioxide removal at a Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas)
of the water cycle management. Veolia will work at optimising site. The DynaWave units were to be delivered to the companys
the water consumption within the site and increasing the water Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID)
recycling rate, as well as upgrade the wastewater treatment project refinery in Pengerang, Southern Johor, in 2Q16 for
facility and provide a comprehensive energy optimisation subsequent fitting. Futhermore, in November 2016, DynaWave
programme. technology was selected for the installation of three
customengineered scrubbing systems for sulfur dioxide removal
India at PRPC Refinery & Cracker Sdn. Bhd, a subsidiary of Petronas. The
DynaWave units are set to be delivered to the companys RAPID
GAIL (India) Limited project refinery before the end of the year for subsequent fitting.
In October 2016, GAIL (India) Limited successfully started its first
Unipol polyethylene (PE) process line with the capacity to In July 2016, China's Chu Kong Petroleum Natural Gas Steel Pipe
produce 400 000 tpy of PE. The total production capacity of Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries (PCK) announced that the
GAILs petrochemical plant at Pata, Uttar Pradesh, is 810 000 tpy. group had been awarded a price agreement to supply
GAILs flexible high density polyethylene (HDPE)/linear low approximately 40 000 t of steel pipes for the RAPID project. The
density polyethylene (LLDPE) swing plant provides access to a ambitious project will consist of a 300000bpd refinery and
full range of resin applications. The new process line gives GAIL petrochemical complex, with a combined capacity of
the platform to expand its PE product capabilities, providing 7.7milliontpy of various grades of products, including
Indian PE converters with the high quality, domestically differentiated and speciality chemicals products. The estimated
produced resin products needed for large volume markets, as Capex of the project is US$16billion, while related facilities will
well as advanced performance applications. cost around US$11billion.

Lubrizol CPVC Plant In September 2016, GE declared that, through a strategic


In March 2016, Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. reported that it partnership with Prime Sourcing International (PSI), a subsidiary of
had provided services for Lubrizol Corporations recently Petronas, it would supply 17 emergency diesel generator (EDG)
commissioned chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) packages, five transportable switch rooms and electrical balance
compounding plant in Dahej. The plant, which has the capacity technology for the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Johor.
to produce 55 000 tpy of compound, supports the growth of The equipment will be provided by various GE businesses. Each
Lubrizols emerging businesses in South Asia, the Middle East EDG package will consist of 616 diesel engines provided by GEs
and East Africa. The plant is the first major investment in India Distributed Power business, which will be coupled with the
for US-based Lubrizol. Jacobs was associated with the plants generators and electrical equipment, bound in e-houses.
construction, from the conceptual design phase through the
basic engineering and total installed cost (TIC) estimate. It Also in September, Linde Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of The
subsequently provided detailed engineering, procurement and Linde Group, announced that it had established a joint venture
construction management (EPCM) services for the entire company with Petronas Gas Berhad (PGB) to build a state of the
project. The plants chlorinated polyvinyl chloride unit was art industrial air gas facility that will produce gaseous oxygen and
mechanically completed within the targeted project schedule nitrogen to supply the needs of the RAPID project. Linde and
of 20months. Petronas joint venture company, Pengerang Gas Solution Sdn Bhd
(PGS), also secured long term agreements for the supply of oxygen
Japan and nitrogen to the world scale refinery and petrochemical
complex, which includes an ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol plant.
TonenGeneral Sekiyu K. K. PGS will build two large air separation units and associated gas
In May 2016, GTC Technology announced that it had supplied facilities, resulting in a total investment of 150 million.
advanced distillation technology for TonenGeneral Sekiyu K. K.'s
new mixed xylenes recovery unit. The grassroots unit is located Philippines
at TonenGenerals refinery in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, and
was successfully started up in April 2016. The xylene unit has a JG Summit Petrochemical Corp
capacity of 230 000 tpy. Unique to this design is high purity In November 2016, GTC Technology announced that it had signed
toluene, as well as high purity C9 aromatics, being produced an agreement with JG Summit Petrochemical Corp to provide its
from the same column as the xylenes. The unit uses GTCs GT-BTX and GT-DWC licensed technologies for an aromatics
Dividing Wall Column (GT-DWCSM) technology for high energy extraction unit at JGSummits petrochemical complex in Batangas.
efficiency. This installation also uses a first of its kind design for JG Summit currently has a capacity of approximately 210 000 tpy
divided wall columns (DWCs) with the overhead vapours of pyrolysis gasoline (pygas). After the cracker expansion, capacity
providing the heating duty to two upstream units. GTC provided will increase to approximately 300 000 tpy. The combination of
a single source responsibility for process license, basic GT-BTX and GT-DWC will be designed to process the companys
engineering design, equipment supply and process guarantees. expanded pygas capacity to produce around 170 000 tpy of

December 2016 16 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
a producer of gasoline and propylene in SouthKorea, with a
processing capacity of 390 000 bpd of crude oil and other
Transactions and acquisitions feedstock. Praxair will build, own and operate four vacuum
pressure swing adsorption (VPSA) plants that will supply a
Dorf Ketal Chemicals and Filtra Catalysts and combined 750 tpd of oxygen to Hyundai, which is located at the
Chemicals Daesan Petrochemical Complex on the west coast of the Korean
In January 2016, Dorf Ketal Chemicals India Private Ltd issued peninsula. The VPSAs are expected to start up in 2017.
a statement announcing that it had acquired Filtra Catalysts
and Chemicals Ltd, also based in India. Filtra's adsorbents and SK Gas Corporation and Advanced Petrochemical
catalyst products will be combined with the Dorf Ketal Company
product offering in downstream hydrocarbon process In June 2016, Clariant reported good performance of its catalysts
chemicals. during the successful startup of the largest propane
dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in South Korea. Located in Ulsan on
Chevron Phillips Chemical Company and the southeast coast of the country, the PDH plant is a joint project
INEOS Styrolution between SK Gas CorporationLtd and Advanced Petrochemical
In November 2016, Chevron Phillips Chemical CompanyLLC Company. The facility is designed to produce 600 000 tpy of
announced that it had signed an agreement with INEOS propylene using CB&I's Catofin catalytic dehydrogenation
Styrolution to sell the companys K-Resin styrene-butadiene technology, which is based on Clariant's Catofin catalyst.
copolymers (SBC) business. The deal is subject to customary
closing conditions and regulatory approvals. As part of the Taiwan
transaction, INEOS Styrolution will purchase the equity
interests of K R Copolymer Co., Ltd (KRCC), which owns and Taiwan-Japan Oxo Chemical Industries
operates a K-Resin SBC plant in the Yeosu Petrochemical In February 2016, Axens announced that Taiwan-Japan Oxo
Complex in South Korea. Certain Chevron Phillips Chemicals Chemical Industries, Inc. (TJOCI) had chosen Axens technologies
proprietary K-Resin SBC intellectual property, and other and catalysts for its isononyl alcohol (INA) production plant. On
Chevron Phillips Chemical assets related to the business will 11February 2015, CPC, KH Neochem (KHNC) and Mega
also be transferred. International Commercial Bank (MICB) signed an agreement
setting up a joint venture for the production of high value added
LyondellBasell and Zylog Plastalloys petrochemical products. Under this agreement, TJOCI will invest
In April 2016, LyondellBasell completed the acquisition of the TWD13.7 billion in the construction of an INA production plant in
polypropylene (PP) compounding assets of Zylog Plastalloys the Kaohsiung area. The plant is scheduled to begin commercial
Pvt. Ltd (Zylog) in India. The company entered into a operations in 2019, with its initial annual production capacity of
definitive agreement to acquire Zylog's PP compounding high value added petrochemical products set at 180 000 t. This
assets in November 2015. In October2015, LyondellBasell project is the largest single investment ever held by Japanese and
acquired SJS Plastiblends Pvt. Ltd's PP compounding business, Taiwanese companies in the petrochemical area in Taiwan. Axens
which is located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. With the will provide a whole chain of technologies including methyl
acquisition of Zylog's manufacturing operations in Sinnar, tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and Dimersol-XTM technologies to
Maharashtra, and Chennai, Tamil Nadu, LyondellBasell is now ensure octenes production utilised for the synthesis of the INA
the third largest producer of PP compounds in India with an via hydroformylation.
annual capacity of 44 000 t (97 million lbs).
Vietnam
benzene-toluene-xylenes (BTX). The new BTX unit will also have PetroVietnam
the flexibility to switch between benzene-toluene extraction only In May 2015, Honeywell reported that it had signed a
or the full range of benzene-toluene-xylenes extraction. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vietnam Oil and Gas
Group (PetroVietnam) to increase its presence in Vietnam. The
South Korea MoU was signed in the presence of representatives of the US and
Vietnamese governments and executives from the companies.
Hyundai Chemical Pursuant to the terms of the MoU, Honeywell will provide
In January 2016, Honeywell reported that Hyundai ChemicalCo. professional consulting services to PetroVietnam and its
would use UOP technology to expand its petrochemicals subsidiaries for future investment projects, as well support
complex in Daesan Republic, allowing it to make its own PetroVietnam in engineering design and economic and technical
feedstock material to boost profitability. The facility will use project feasibility studies for all of its facilities.
technology as well as modular equipment from UOP to allow the
plant to make mixed xylenes, a critical feedstock used by the References
plant to produce paraxylene. Back-integrating the facility to make 1. 'East Asia Pacific Economic Update, October 2016: Reducing
Vulnerabilities', World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/eap/
its own feedstock will reduce the plant's dependence on imports publication/east-asia-pacific-economic-update.
of mixed xylenes and its exposure to the volatile market for the 2. 'GEs Solution to Enable Uninterrupted Operations at One of the Worlds
feedstock. The plant currently uses UOP technology to produce Largest Integrated Refinery and Petrochemical Complex', GE, http://www.
genewsroom.com/press-releases/ge%E2%80%99s-solution-enable-
paraxylene. uninterrupted-operations-one-world%E2%80%99s-largest-integrated-
refinery.
Hyundai Oilbank 3. 'Asia Will Drive Substantial Global Petrochemicals Capacity Additions to
2020, says GlobalData', GlobalData, http://energy.globaldata.com/media-
In September 2016, Praxair, Inc. declared that it had signed a center/press-releases/oil-and-gas/asia-will-drive-substantial-global-
longterm contract to supply industrial gases to Hyundai Oilbank, petrochemicals-capacity-additions-to-2020-says-globaldata.

December 2016 18 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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Italy
My camera lens captures the energy of the city
Nicol Vizioli - Artist

Energy powers our world, it enriches our lives.


Italian artist Nicol Vizioli uses energy as an
inspiration for her art.
It fuels her imagination.

RasGas provides clean, reliable energy for


Qatar and the world.
Energy for Life.
December 2016 22 HYDROCARBON
ENGINEERING
Ale Vrblk, Jose Hidalgo and Radek ern, Unipetrol
Centre for Research and Education, Czech Republic,
examine methods for the assessment of marine fuel
stability, in order to ensure that clean and environmentally
friendly fuels are suitable for further processing.

I
n January 2015, the new maximum limit (0.1 wt%) for sulfur content in marine fuels
came into effect for the sulfur emission control area (SECA) according to MARPOL
(Marine Pollution) Annex VI.1 Further changes related to the area outside the SECA
are expected in 2020, which can affect the resulting fuel oil composition, and also its
stability.
Fuel oils, which are used as marine fuels, have to meet the relevant requirements in
accordance with the ISO 8217 normative.2 All the required parameters, as well as the
relevant test methods, are prescribed in this standard. The viscosity, density and
relationship through the calculated carbon aromaticity index (CCAI) are very important
parameters for the fuel oil characterisation and classification. The fuel oils could be
classified into several groups according to their price. This price is influenced by their
viscosity, density and composition, where material with lower values could be preferred
as a potential diluent. The customer can accept any deviation from the standard values,
but it will result in the reduction of its final price. The customer could use the out of
specification material as a component for further blending.
Marine fuels are often blended from heavy vacuum residues, which are produced
using a thermal or cracking process. The heavy residues are usually blended with low
boiling crude oil fractions to achieve the required properties and meet the relevant
standards. While respecting the requirements, the minimal content of diluents should
be used to achieve a more stable resulting mixture.3

HYDROCARBON 23 December 2016


ENGINEERING
The limit value of the total sediment
(aged) is mentioned in the ISO8217 as a
parameter closely related to the stability
of marine fuels this value must not
exceed 0.1 wt%. The assessment of total
sediments is the common method, but it
also has its pitfalls.6
There are three possibilities for the
total sediment assessment differing in the
sample preparation. The total sediment
(TS) determination uses the sample in its
original state (ISO 10307-1).7 The other
Figure 1. Problematic samples disrupted filtration papers. methods apply a thermal (Procedure A) or
chemical (Procedure B) ageing step for
sample preparation, followed by hot
filtration (ISO10307-2).8 The total sediment potential (TSP),
according to thermal Procedure A, is based on the placement
of the sample in an oil bath at 100C for 24hours. In the
total sediment accelerated (TSA) ProcedureB method, the
asphaltenes are gradually flocculated by the addition of
n-hexadecane at the exact defined speed.
A sample of the marine fuel is filtered through the
preheated apparatus at 100C and, after solvent washing
(heptane-toluene solution) and drying, the total sediment
on the filter is weighted. This determination is performed in
parallel and the total sediment by hot filtration is reported
Figure 2. Comparison of the upper (A) and the bottom
(B) side of the lower filter paper. as the average of the two determinations. The mass
percentage of the total sediment for each test specimen is
calculated using Equation 1:

S = m5 - m4 - (m3 - m2) 10 m1 [wt%]

Where S is the total sediment, expressed as a


percentage by mass; m1 is the mass of the test portion, in
grams; m2 is the mass of the lower filter before filtration, in
milligrams; m3 is the mass of the lower filter after filtration,
in milligrams; m4 is the mass of the upper filter before
filtration, in milligrams; and m5 is the mass of the upper
filter after filtration, in milligrams. In the case of TSA
determination, the hexadecane as a diluent must be taken
Figure 3. Comparison of the bottom sides of the
into account by using a divisor of 9.28 m1 instead of 10m1.
lower (A) and the third (B) filter paper.
The repeatability, r, for residual fuels was calculated
according to Equation 2:
The stability of the marine fuel needs to be checked in
order to fulfil the prescribed parameters relating to the r = 0.089 x [wt%]
purity of the fuel (emission limits, combustion
characteristics, etc). Qualitative changes can be observed Where x is the average of the test results, expressed as
during long term storage, due to impaired stability or a percentage by mass.
compatibility. A poorly chosen storage temperature can This method is able to provide the relevant results
lead to increased emissions due to the evaporation of low between 0.01 and 0.50 wt%. The results outside this range
boiling components from the diluent.4 will be mentioned as <0.01 or >0.50 wt% in the output
protocol.
Stability testing The requirements of the ISO 8217 prescribe the limit
The stability of marine fuels is very important because they value for TSP and TSA, but these procedures can have
have to maintain the quality properties during long term incomparable results depending on the chemical character
storage or transport to a customer.5 Also, the effect of of the marine fuel. The widely used method is the TSA
sedimentation or separation of the individual phases can because it is faster. The TSP consumes approximately
be observed during the long term storage.4 The method for 23hours more, but the reference method will be TSP.
evaluation of total sediments is a very relevant tool for the The TSA assessment is based on the asphaltenes'
determination of the fuel oils stability and compatibility. flocculation with n-hexadecane (cetane) used during the

December 2016 24 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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To k y o , J a p a n H o u s t o n , Te x a s M u n i c h , G e r m a n y J u r o n g , S i n g a p o r e D u b a i , U . A . E .
with the change of the total sediments. TS versus TSP, as
well as TS versus TSA.
The decrease of the TSA/TSP value in comparison with
the value of TS can be, in some cases, negatively or
positively affected by the deterioration of the oil phase
properties. The increased weight of the lower paper
decreases the value of the total sediment in the total
calculation.
A good correlation with the total sediments means the
method for the evaluation of colloidal stability is based on
the spot test according to ASTM D 4740.10 The spot test is a
Figure 4. Differences of the lower filters (coded as B)
in comparison with the upper filters (A).
fast and easy method where a drop of preheated and
thoroughly mixed fuel oil is put on a test paper and placed
in an oven at 100C. After one hour, the resultant spot is
procedure, known as chemical ageing. The exact defined examined for evidence of suspended solids and rated for
amount of cetane has to be added very slowly (dropwise) cleanliness to the five class.
to minimise the local flocculation. The asphaltenes play a
key role in the early formation of the sediment.9 It is Conclusion
believed that micelle formed from asphaltenes in a The world trade of marine fuels is currently undergoing
complex colloidal structure are surrounded by some substantial changes, which will need new methods
nonasphaltenic particles that may prevent their for the analysis of fuel samples. Employing an effective
re-solubility. The asphaltene flocculation can be prevented methodology for the evaluation of marine fuels stability
through the addition of the resin-based components. and compatibility is mandatory, in order to ensure that the
clean and environmentally friendly fuel is suitable for
The pitfalls of testing further processing. The most widely used method for the
The character of the testing sample influences the assessment of marine fuels stability is the total sediments
assessment of the total sediments; high density, viscosity or (TS/TSP/TSA) measurement; however, this method
content of impurities can make the measurement very presents its limitations. Therefore, the improvement of
difficult or impossible (Figure 1), and, in some cases, the results by the assessment of colloidal stability is highly
resulting values can be very wrong. recommended. This method could be adapted depending
The higher content of resin-based materials in the fuel on the chemical character and composition of the
oil can cause clogging in the lower filter paper (Figure 2), sample.
which was in contact with the supporting sintered disc
(frit). The resin-based materials are visible in Figure2, partB Notes
as darker spots. The resin-based materials, which passed The project was carried out with the financial support of
through the filter paper but not through the sintered disc, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic,
caused an incorrect increase of the lower filter weight in with institutional support for the long term conceptual
the overall balance. This incorrect assumption can lead to development of research organisations. The project has
unrealistic results of the total sediment assessment, with been integrated into the National Programme for
some extreme cases resulting in negative values of wt%. Sustainability I of the Ministry of Education, Youth and
This problem can be solved using the third filter paper as Sports of the Czech Republic through the project
an auxiliary mechanism (Figure 3). The third paper is prepared development of the UniCRE Centre, Project Code LO1606.
for measurement the same way as the others (according to
ISO 10307), but it is not incorporated into the final balance. References
1. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
This procedure is in accordance with the method Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.
ISO10307. In this method it notes that the same results can 2. ISO 8217: Petroleum products Fuels (class F) Specifications of
be achieved with the use of a fine wire mesh support marine fuels, 2012.
3. STRATIEV, D., DINKOV, R., PETKOV, K. and KIRILOV, K., Oil Gas
screen in combination with a third disposable filter. This Journal, 106, 34, 46, 2008.
third filter can be placed below the two test filters on the 4. VRBLK, A., BRINGLEROV, N., HIDALGO, J. M. and ERN, R.,
Paliva 7, 2, 48, 2015.
support frit and the same pre-drying regime followed as for 5. HSU, C. S. and ROBINSON, P., (Eds): Practical advances in
the test filters, but without weighing the third filter before petroleum processing, Springer Science & Business Media,
NewYork, 2007.
placement and discarding it when filtration is complete.8 6. VRBLK, A. and ERN, R., Proceedings of 3rd International
It is also necessary to underline the differences Conference on Chemical Technology, 13 - 15 April, Mikulov
Czech Republic (Czech Society of Industrial Chemistry, ed.), str.
between the colour appearances of the lower filter 91, Praha, 2015.
(Figure4), which can be used as an indicator for the oil 7. ISO 10307-1: Petroleum products Total sediment in residual
phase description. The fuel oil coded as 1 (Figure 4) has the fuel oils Part 1: Determination by hot filtration, 2009.
8. ISO 10307-2: Petroleum products Total sediment in residual
lowest value of total sediment content because of the fuel oils Part 2: Determination using standard procedures for
heaviest (the darkest) lower filter. ageing, 2009.
9. STANISLAUS, A. and MARAFI, M., Catal. Today 109, 167, 2005.
The changes observed during the ageing process can be 10. ASTM D 4740: Standard Test Method for Cleanliness and
identified using the weight of the lower filter in comparison Compatibility of Residual Fuels by Spot Test, 2014.

December 2016 26 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Alex Cedillo, Honeywell UOP,
USA, describes how membrane
module technology developed
specifically for natural gas
applications with condensing
conditions has helped to
improve plant performance
and productivity.

MARVELLOUS
MEMBRANES
F
or more than 35 years, gas separation membranes have
been used commercially in natural gas process
applications, mostly limited to CO2 removal. Membrane
technology acceptance initially was slow and limited
because many process design parameters were largely unknown.
However, membrane technology has experienced significant
advances, and property improvements have made them more
robust and stable against common natural gas contaminants.
Membranes operating in condensing services have been used
for three specific applications: carbon dioxide enhanced oil
recovery (CO2-EOR), natural gas liquids (NGLs) recovery, and
simply to eliminate pretreatment costs in EOR applications for
NGL recovery. Market demand for these applications has been
driven by tertiary oil recovery and carbon capture and
sequestration (CCS) opportunities. Nearly 90% of CO2-EOR
projects in the world are in the US, and the opportunities for
condensing applications with high CO2 concentrations and NGL
recovery continue to increase.
The most common NGL recovery methods are:
n Recovery of NGLs from the produced gas stream. In this
scenario, the produced gas is first compressed and
dehydrated, followed by a method of NGL recovery involving
the chilling process (such as refrigeration or the
JouleThomson [JT] valve). The recovered NGL typically
contains CO2 and H2S, and requires further processing to
sweeten the stream, or is sold at lower prices as sour NGL.
Recovered CO2 is compressed to injection pressure.
n Recovery of NGLs and hydrocarbon gas from the produced
gas stream. In this case, the produced gas is first compressed
and dehydrated, followed by a method of sour NGL recovery

HYDROCARBON 27 December 2016


ENGINEERING
(such as refrigeration, membrane, amine, or a combination
thereof). A gas process is then used for the separation of
hydrocarbons from the separated CO2, which is then
compressed and re-injected. The Whiting Oil & Gas plant
in Wickett, Texas, uses this processing option.

There are several advantages of using membranes as a part


of the solution for NGL recovery. Some of the key advantages
of using membranes are:
nn Membranes are ideal for bulk CO2 removal compared to
solvent systems. Since NGL recovery applications involve
feed gases with high CO2 content, economical removal of
Figure 1. Typical capacity decline of a membrane CO2 is achieved by using membranes.
system over time. nn The ability of a membrane system to deliver a CO2-rich
stream at elevated pressure relative to an amine system
reduces the compression cost (capital and operating
expenditure) associated with CO2 reinjection. A membrane
system typically eliminates at least one stage of
compression, saving space as well.
nn Meeting and changing feed gas conditions is easier for a
membrane system due to its modular nature.

This article summarises the performance of


HoneywellUOPs NGL-Extract membrane, which is a new
membrane module product being offered for natural gas
applications in condensing conditions. NGL-Extract membranes
have been successfully commercialised since November 2015,
demonstrating significantly improved plant performance and
productivity. The high permeability of the NGL-Extract
membrane has increased gas production by nearly 70%, while
using 35% less membrane area.
Figure 2. Laboratory test equipment. The Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation sought to increase
capacity at its Wickett, Texas, plant by adding a fourth
membrane train. In the meantime, there was an immediate
benefit if the Whiting plant could process additional gas with
existing infrastructure. Honeywell UOP proposed to install
NGL-Extract membrane modules in one of Whitings skids to
test plant and product performance and process capability. The
objective was to maintain or increase production levels while
maximising NGL recovery and maintaining or reducing operating
costs.
The NGL-Extract membranes have been operating
successfully since November 2015. The Wickett plant has three
membrane trains processing approximately 211millionft3/d of
feed gas with 96.5 mole% CO2. The feed gas is dehydrated via a
Figure 3. Whiting NGL cumulative production. temperature swing adsorption (TSA) unit and the dew point is
controlled to less than 34F.
The membrane separation is performed in two steps. The
first membrane stage operates at <360 psig of pressure, while
the second membrane stage operates at <580 psig of pressure.
Valuable NGLs are produced as the membrane separates CO2
from the feed stream. The Joule-Thomson effect takes place
due to the CO2 expansion, as the CO2 is permeating through the
membrane, causing the feed temperature to decrease. The plant
recovers NGLs after the two stages, which are recombined and
sent to a common separator. The average liquid production is
approximately 315 bpd. The CO2 concentration in the product
gas stream from the first stage ranges from 60% to 75%
depending upon existing membrane conditions and age.
Figure 4. NGL-Extract dry to wet cycle effect. Gas removal capacity of membranes declines over time.
Membrane system designs take this into consideration and are

December 2016 28 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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and would material balance. NGL samples were taken and
analysed before and after the skid startup.
Field data collection was executed in two levels:
nn Level 1: data collected from the entire skid. For the first
four weeks data was recorded on a daily basis; data
recordings were then reduced to twice a week.
nn Level 2: data collected for the single bank of elements.
For the first four weeks data was recorded on a daily
basis; recordings were then reduced to twice a week.
Three NGL-Extract elements were retrieved from one of
the banks to evaluate their mechanical integrity and measuring
membrane intrinsic performance.

Figure 5. CO2 rate and selectivity versus CO2 Laboratory tests


concentration in condensing conditions. Condensing conditions were also simulated in the laboratory
to complement the commercial data collected. A three by
four factorial laboratory design of experiment (DOE) matrix
Table 1. Performance comparison before and was created. To simulate condensing mode conditions the
after element change out laboratory DOE considers the variation of pressure,
Before After Change (%) temperature, carbon dioxide concentrations, and the amount
Feed flow 21 36 71% of liquid loading in the feed stream. There was also a study of
(millionft3/d) the effect of ageing on the membrane, and a cycle test
NGL (bpd) 1250 1300 4% between dry and condensing conditions to simulate the
shutdown and startup cycle of a commercial system. Figure 2
Gain in annual revenue US$0.67 million
sweet NGL shows the laboratory equipment setup used in testing the
NGL-Extract membrane.
Gain in annual sales gas US$0.69 million
revenue
(@US$/millionBtu) Results
Total gain in annual US$1.36 million
revenue Field test
(NGL + sales gas) Honeywell UOP proposed loading 35% less membrane area in
Skid membrane area 30% the skid to process the same amount of gas prior to loading
reduction the NGL-Extract elements. The plant originally produced an
Calculated based on NGL composite price at Mont Belview, average of 1250 bpd of NGL while the skid was processing
Texas, closing at US$4.92/million Btu dtd. 31 August 2016 approximately 21 million ft3/d. After the NGL-Extract elements
and spot NG price (Henry Hub) of US$2.94/million Btu dtd. were loaded, the feed flow rate increased to 36 million ft3/d
31August 2016. and the NGL plant production increased to 1300 bpd. With
less membrane area, the improvement is significant, providing
supplied with enough membrane area to compensate for a capacity increase of 72% and a plant NGL production rate
capacity decline over the expected service life. The graph in increase of 8%. Figure 3 shows the cumulative plant NGL
Figure 1 shows the nature of expected capacity decline over production at Whiting before and after loading NGL-Extract
time for a cellulose acetate membrane system in CO2 removal elements. The readings in November show an NGL rate
service. This capacity decline strongly depends upon decline due to plant compressor problems, which were fixed
operating pressure, temperature, feed gas composition, and at the end of the month.
membrane material. In general, capacity declines follow an Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) are
exponential trend. The majority of the capacity decline components that negatively affect membrane performance.
happens rapidly within the first few months of operation, and NGL analysis indicates that there is 1060 ppm of BTEX in liquid
is then followed by gradual decline over the remaining life of phase, which showed no negative impact on the membrane
the system. rate and selectivity.
Honeywell UOPs NGL-Extract membranes have been
Field test successfully operating since November 2015. The skid
One of the plants membrane skids was fully loaded with continues to process 36 million ft3/d of gas, maintaining an
NGL-Extract elements, except for one bank (a skid contains a average NGL production rate of 1320 bpd.
total of six banks with four tubes per bank). This particular Three NGL-Extract elements were retrieved from the skid
bank had a staged number of membrane elements in each and returned to Honeywell UOP testing facilities for further
tube, as the number of elements loaded in each tube evaluation. The first element to process the feed stream
increased to test the NGL-Extract individually and operated in dry conditions. The next two elements were
collectively. exposed to liquid hydrocarbon during operation. All three
For a high performance assessment, special attention was elements were tested for mechanical integrity and membrane
given to skid instrumentation to ensure the data was accurate performance, and all three elements demonstrated good

December 2016 30 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
performance after testing at standard quality control (QC)

Feeling a pinch
conditions.

Laboratory tests
The DOE provided information which defined the membrane
optimum performance boundaries.
in your process?
Laboratory test results showed that as the CO2 feed
concentration increased in the presence of liquid hydrocarbon,
the membrane permeability increases up to 30%, while the
selectivity decay can be as low as 10%. Open it up with
TWISTED TUBE
Cycling the membrane between condensing and dry
conditions was completed to simulate a skid shutdown and
startup in which the membrane was completely depressurised
and partially dried, then exposed to liquid hydrocarbon again.
The results presented in Figure 4 show no membrane Heat Exchanger
performance decay during the cycling process, demonstrating
the robustness of the NGL-Extract membrane. Figure 4 shows technology!
the three day cycling study. Through each cycle sequence, the
membrane performance tends to stabilise with time in the
presence of liquid hydrocarbon. Common applications
Laboratory tests (Figure 5) also revealed that when dry include:
NGL-Extract membrane is first exposed to liquid Crude preheat
hydrocarbons, the permeability and selectivity loss decreases exchangers
as the CO2 feed concentration increases. Overhead condensers
Similarly, as the temperature increases the membrane Reboilers
permeability and selectivity loss decreases. The dominant
Feed / Effluent
factors for both membrane permeability and selectivity loss
exchangers in:
are CO2 concentration followed by the temperature.
Hydrocracking
Conclusion Hydrotreating
Honeywell UOP NGL-Extract, developed specifically for (diesel or naptha)
natural gas applications with condensing conditions, has been Reforming
successfully tested and commercialised. NGL-Extract has
demonstrated significant improvement in plant capacity and
productivity. The high permeability of the NGL-Extract
membrane has increased gas production by nearly 70% while The drop-in solution for increased flows, greater heat
using 35% less membrane area. Field and laboratory results recovery and reduced pressure drops. TWISTED TUBE
confirm NGL-Extract robustness in the presence of BTEX while
Heat Exchanger technology is your solution for
operating at high CO2 concentrations.
The production increase and the resulting economic enhancing the performance of your shell & tube heat
benefits at the Whiting Gas plant are shown in Table 1. exchangers.
Despite plant process interruptions, the NGL-Extract
continues to exceed expectations. Furthermore, the evaluation
of the three elements retrieved from the field indicated the Tube-side Flow Shell-side Flow
mechanical integrity of the membranes was not compromised.
Membrane systems offer a flexible solution to gas
processing requirements associated with NGL recovery. With
relative ease of operation and simplicity of maintenance,
membranes are the technology of choice for NGL recovery
and bulk removal and reinjection of CO2. Current research and
product developments from Honeywell UOP have helped the
Whiting Gas plant push beyond its original design basis,
allowing for increased product revenue at a reduced
operating cost.

Acknowledgement
The author would like to thank Gary Norwood of Whiting Oil
& Gas in Wickett, Texas, who provided expertise and
operational data that assisted the performance and analysis of
Honeywell UOPs solution. For related trademark
information, visit:

www.kochheattransfer.com
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WEIGHING UP
THE OPTIONS
G
iven the global challenges of investing in new gas
processing capital projects, unlocking the potential of Gary Bowerbank, Pavan Chilukuri
existing operating facilities through selective investment and AlirezaZahedimanesh,
is increasingly becoming a norm. One way to achieve
additional revenue with minimal or no capital expenditure is to ShellGlobal Solutions International
evaluate alternative solvents for existing gas processing trains. B.V., the Netherlands, explain how
Such solvent swaps can bring a range of benefits, including:
n Increased capacity. operators can unlock the potential of
n Reduced energy consumption. existing gas processing assets through
n Deeper contaminant removal. solvent swaps.
n Less solvent degradation.

This article presents three case


studies that demonstrate
the value of solvent
swaps for enabling the
treatment of higher
contaminated feed gas (case 1),
reducing operational expenditure and reducing
solvent degradation products (case 2) and meeting tighter product
specifications (case 3) to increase plant profitability.
In addition to the technical elements, effective execution is
important for the success of solvent swaps in brownfield assets.
Through its owner-operator-licensor experience, and
the execution of numerous solvent swaps
worldwide, Shell has developed best practices
for solvent swaps. The due diligence regarding
risk assessments, logistics, updating of
procedures, etc., is emphasised, and the
potential benefits of offline and on the
run solvent swaps are discussed.

Modern technology
solvents
In the current economic climate,
there may be little appetite for
investing in complex greenfield gas
processing projects. However,
competition remains intense and
operators are seeking ways to
unlock the potential of existing
operating facilities without major
investments.

HYDROCARBON 33 December 2016


ENGINEERING
existing process configuration employs Sulfinol-D solvent
Table 1. Original and new feed gas contaminant
levels and treated gas specifications (Figure 1).
The plant operator asked Shell Global Solutions to
Original design New condition
evaluate the options for upgrading the performance of its gas
Feed gas H2S content, mol % 1.0 2.0 treating unit. Two options were considered.
Feed gas CO2 content, mol % 2.5 3.3
Relative feed gas flow, % 100 100 Option 1: new pretreatment acid gas removal
Treated gas H2S 3.5 unit
specification, ppmv A new acid gas removal unit was considered, which would
include an absorption system, a flash drum, a regeneration
system and, depending on the acid gas quality, an acid gas
enrichment section (Figure 2). The new pretreatment unit
would reduce the feed gas H2S and CO2 content to the design
values for the existing Sulfinol-D system. However, such
equipment would require considerable capital investment,
need space and add operational complexity, which would
likely reduce unit reliability.

Option 2: solvent swap to Sulfinol-X


Detailed evaluation showed the relative unit performance
Figure 1. Existing process lineup. improvement for Sulfinol-X compared with the existing
solvent (Table 2). This demonstrated that the treated gas H2S,
CO2, COS and mercaptan specifications could be achieved
with a similar solvent circulation rate. The lean solvent
temperature to the absorber column would also be similar.
Reboiler duty and steam consumption would be
approximately 9% higher owing to the much higher acid gas
flow. However, the higher reboiler duty was within the
equipment design specifications, so there would be no need
to modify the reboiler. Indeed, the evaluation work showed
that the solvent change would not require any major
Figure 2. Option 1 process lineup. equipment modification. Sulfinol-X has similar fluid properties
to Sulfinol-D, so the swap would have no impact on pump
seals or seal material and the solvent circulation would be
within the operating range of the pumps.
Sulfinol-X has a higher loading capacity than Sulfinol-D,
which is why higher amounts of H2S and CO2 can be
removedfrom the feed gas at the same solvent rate.
Methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) reacts 1:1 with CO2, whereas
diisopropanol amine (DIPA) reacts 2:1. Consequently, it is
possible to load an accelerated MDEA-based solvent more
(upto 1molCO2/mol amine) compared with a DIPA-based
Figure 3. Option 2 process lineup. solvent (up to 0.5molCO2/mol amine). This provides
operational cost savings, as less solvent pumping and heating
duty are required, and helps to debottleneck capacity for
One way to create additional revenue, with minimal existing Sulfinol-D units.
expenditure, is to swap the solvents in existing gas processing Sulfinol-X offers faster CO2 and COS reaction kinetics than
trains. When unit performance is satisfactory, there may not be Sulfinol-D. Its faster CO2 reaction and different reaction heat
a strong case for upgrading to newer technology solvents such gives Sulfinol-X a different temperature profile in the absorber
as ADIP-X and Sulfinol-X. However, when operators seek to to that of Sulfinol-D.
increase capacity, reduce energy consumption, achieve deeper Hydrocarbon co-absorption by the solvent would be
contaminant removal or reduce solvent degradation without lower with Sulfinol-X compared with Sulfinol-D because of its
major investment, a solvent swap can be an attractive option. different composition. Consequently, there would be less
hydrocarbon content in the acid gas, which would mean that
Case study 1: treating higher the Claus unit would need less air and have more room for a
contaminated feed gas capacity increase.
This case study presents a scenario where a gas plant operating
company needed to process feed gas with higher H2S content Comparison of options
(almost double) and 30% more CO2 than it was designed for, The proposed solvent swap would require very little capital
while meeting the same treated gas specifications (Table 1). The expenditure, as there would be no major equipment

December 2016 34 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
sulfolane content, Sulfinol-X requires a lower reboiler duty to
Table 2. Unit performance modelling results for
Sulfinol-X, relative to Sulfinol-D remove the same amount of CO2 in the regenerator, as the
overall heat of reaction for the accelerated MDEA is lower
Sulfinol-X
than that of DIPA. In this example, the reboiler duty was
Relative feed gas flow, % 100
approximately 10% lower compared to the Sulfinol-D case.
Relative solvent circulation flow, % 100 The solvent change did not require any equipment
Relative acid gas flow, % 133 modification to the gas sweetening unit or the downstream
Relative reboiler duty, % 109* units. The solvent circulation requirement was within the
operating range of the pumps and had no effect on pump
Relative steam consumption, % 109*
seals or seal materials. The composition chosen for Sulfinol-X
*The increase in reboiler duty and steam consumption is due to was within the material selection guidelines for
much higher acid gas content in feed gas.
sulfolanebased solvents, so there was no impact on material
selection from the solvent change.
In addition to avoiding frequent solvent replenishment,
or a new solvent reclamation unit, the performance of the
unit was checked for a higher gas throughput. The unit can
handle 10% additional gas throughput with approximately
12% higher solvent circulation rate. The solvent composition
for Sulfinol-X has lower sulfolane content compared to
Sulfinol-D. This gives a lower solvent temperature in the
Figure 4. Proposed lineup. reboiler and, hence, increased reboiler capacity. In this
example, reboiler duty was limiting capacity, so, instead of
reducing reboiler duty (steam requirement), the reboiler was
modification. The operating costs would also be considerably kept close to full capacity to be able to increase the gas
lower than for a new pretreatment unit. Following a solvent processing capacity.
swap, the unit would have the same operational complexity. In The unit has been running successfully with Sulfinol-X for
contrast, the installation of a new pretreatment unit would a significant number of consecutive years.
increase operational complexity and most likely reduce plant
reliability. Case study 3: meeting tighter gas
The evaluation concluded that a solvent swap to specifications
Sulfinol-X would be the most attractive option for meeting A gas processing operating company wanted to reduce the
the new feed gas contaminant levels. It would provide the total sulfur content of its final product to meet tighter gas
existing unit with the means to treat more highly specifications. In collaboration with Shell Global Solutions, a
contaminated feed gas at considerably lower capital solvent swap from diethanolamine (DEA) to Sulfinol-X was
investment and operating expenditure than the alternative, proposed.
while maintaining the same level of operability and reliability. Detailed evaluation as part of a feasibility study showed
that using Sulfinol-X in the absorber (Figure 4) would reduce
Case study 2: solvent losses and the total sulfur content in the treated gas to the target levels.
degradation Swapping to Sulfinol-X would reduce the mercaptan
A Middle Eastern operator needed to process contaminated content in the treated gas from the absorber. The regeneration
gas in its gas sweetening unit. The design used a DIPA-based gas could be used as fuel and its lower sulfur content would
solvent. The DIPA reacts with CO2 to form carbamate, which help to ease boiler corrosion issues.
reacts irreversibly to form oxazolidone. In this case, the high Evaluation demonstrated that Sulfinol-X would remove
partial pressure of CO2 would have led to an accelerated H2S, CO2, mercaptans, COS and organic sulfides to the
buildup of DIPA-oxazolidone and other related degradation required treated gas product specifications in a single process.
products. This would cut the equipment count significantly compared
Even though the DIPA-based Sulfinol solvent had been with alternative multi-process lineups and, thus, reduce capital
performing well, continuing to use this solvent with the feed costs. With fewer equipment items to operate and maintain,
gas containing a high CO2 volume would have meant higher unit availability should increase and operating costs should
operational expenditure through frequent solvent decrease. Operating costs could also be reduced, as Sulfinol-X
replenishment or the additional capital cost of a new solvent has a lower steam requirement for stripping of the absorbed
reclamation unit, due to DIPA contribution to the solvent acid gases compared with alternative aqueous amine solvents.
degradation.
The operator worked with Shell Global Solutions to find Effective solvent swap execution
an alternative solution. A solvent swap to Sulfinol-X was In addition to getting the best technical solution for each
proposed. The solvent swap was made without needing opportunity, achieving effective project execution is
additional capital costs. With Sulfinol-X, the gas sweetening important for the success of solvent swaps in brownfield
unit met the required specifications for CO2 and sulfur (H2S, assets. Through its experience and execution of numerous
COS and mercaptans) removal using a similar solvent solvent swaps worldwide, Shell has developed best practices
circulation rate. Compared to Sulfinol-D, for the same for solvent swaps, built on continuous improvements during

December 2016 36 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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50 years. The company has designed and commercialised nn Absorber pressure and temperature profile.
more than 250 operating units to date. nn Acid gas composition and flow rate.
To prepare for an effective solvent swap, the following nn Regenerator operating parameters.
factors should be considered as part of the sites management nn Mechanical filter pressure drop.
of change process:
nn The adequacy/capacity of the existing unit design, An offline solvent swap is performed while the unit is in
including, for example, the relief capacity and tray shutdown. In general, the following steps need to be
hydraulics. followed:
nn The new heat and material balance resulting from the nn Draining of the existing solvent inventory.
changed temperature profile of the unit and new solvent. nn Hot water wash and draining of washwater.
nn Update of site hazard register and chemical safety nn Second water wash and draining of water wash.
datasheets. nn Loading of the new solvent.
nn Reconfiguration of flow and level instruments in response
to the new solvent properties. It is prudent to align an offline solvent swap with a unit
nn Turndown limitations, which may be an issue in some turnaround and a thorough cleaning of the unit to ensure
cases, for example, the flash gas pressure control valve
best performance on restart. The number of days required for
and the regenerator reflux loop.
offline solvent swap depends on the size of the unit and
nn The requirement for new or additional stainless steel
whether it is performed during a turnaround or cleaning
cladding in certain column sections, although
temperatures are generally lower. event. The time needed for each step is estimated based on
nn The requirement to clean the unit thoroughly beforehand. the inventory and the planned activities. At least two
complete water washes of the system are typically required.
nn Assessment of solvent quality with potential to reuse in
the new solvent. For example, when swapping from Sulfinol-D to ADIP-X, the
nn Onsite storage of new and existing solvents, and residual Sulfinol-D level in the final rinse water should be less
washwater, and the eventual disposal of the existing than 1.0 wt%, and the wash water is typically heated and
solvent inventory. circulated for 8 - 12 hours.
nn The prevention of cross-train contamination through
common facilities and connections needs in the case of Conclusion
multiple trains and a staggered solvent swap. This might Solvent swaps can help to increase revenue from existing gas
require additional facilities, for example, a drain vessel and processing trains with no or minimal capital expenditure.
solvent storage. The first of three case studies demonstrated the value of
swapping to Sulfinol-X for treating more highly contaminated
In performing due diligence ahead of a solvent swap, risk feed gas at considerably lower capital investment and
assessments, logistics, updating of procedures and shutdown operating expenditure than an alternative pretreatment
planning (if required) need to be considered. option, while maintaining the same level of operability and
reliability.
Solvent swap: on the run versus In the second case study, a switch to Sulfinol-X to treat gas
offline with a high CO2 content reduced solvent losses and solvent
Depending on the similarity of the new and existing solvent degradation without any equipment modification
ingredients, the solvent swap can be performed on the run or requirements. The improved solvent performance avoided the
offline. For example, a solvent swap from MDEA to Sulfinol-X need for high operational expenditure through frequent
may (if the existing solvent is of acceptable quality) be solvent replenishment or the additional capital cost of a new
performed on the run, while a solvent swap from Sulfinol-D to solvent reclamation unit. The unit is capable of handling 10%
ADIP-X or Sulfinol-X needs to be offline. additional gas throughput with an approximately 12% higher
On the run solvent swaps are performed while the unit is solvent circulation rate.
in operation. In this case, it is recommended to reduce the The final case study shows how a gas processing operating
feed gas flow rate and consequently the solvent rate, change company can meet tighter treated gas product specifications
the activated carbon filter and perform hydrocarbon skimming in a single process using Sulfinol-X. This would cut the
in the unit before the solvent swap. The new solvent equipment count significantly compared with alternative
ingredients, for example sulfolane, for a solvent swap from multi-process lineups and, thus, reduce capital costs.
MDEA to Sulfinol-M, can be added to the storage tank (buffer In addition to the technical elements, effective execution
vessel or regenerator sump) and then pumped back gradually is important for the success of solvent swaps in brownfield
to the unit until the desired solvent composition is achieved. assets. In certain circumstances, an on the run solvent swap,
Water will also need to be bled from the system via the reflux which avoids shutting down the unit, can be performed with
to reduce the water content and maintain the overall appropriate procedures and monitoring.
inventory. Following confirmation of the right solvent
composition, the solvent rate and gas rate can be gradually Notes
increased to normal operating levels. While performing the This article is based on a paper first presented at the
solvent swap procedure, the following operating parameters MiddleEast Sulphur Plant Operations Network (MESPON)
have to be constantly monitored: 2016, which took place form 9 - 11 October in Abu Dhabi,
nn Treated gas composition at the absorber outlet. United Arab Emirates.

December 2016 38 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Philip le Grange, Mike Sheilan and
Ben Spooner, Amine Experts, a
division of Sulphur Experts, Inc.,
evaluate the evidence surrounding
why amine systems fail in natural
gas treating systems.

E
quipment malfunction or unplanned shutdown of an transported and sold without the corrosive potential and
amine system can have a devastating effect on both dangers associated with H2S and CO2. The amine solution is
profits and the environment. The goal of this article is then regenerated in the regenerator/still/stripper column by
to determine and focus the natural gas industrys decreasing the pressure and adding heat, which releases the
attention on the main threats to a facilities reliability. These H2S and CO2 from the amine solution so that it may be
threats were identified by analysing 300cases of amine system reused. The H2S and CO2 may be further processed, reinjected
failures investigated by AmineExperts over the last 18years for or incinerated.
the root causes of the corrosion, foaming, hydraulic Failure of an amine system to deliver its rated capacity of
restrictions and specification problems that have limited or on-specification product can have a devastating effect on
crippled gas processing facilities around the world. The most production and the environment. The authors have analysed
prevalent causes of failure in amine systems in gas processing several hundred cases from Amine Experts field
are determined, and strategies to prevent these are given. troubleshooting history, as well as cases from literature, to
Amine systems function by absorbing the hydrogen ascertain the most frequently occurring root causes of these
sulfide (H2S) and/or carbon dioxide (CO2) from hydrocarbon failures. The intention behind this article is to use historical
streams into the circulating liquid amine solvent. This is lessons from the industry to focus the attention of plant
carried out in a contactor/absorber column and allows for personnel on the best strategies to provide the most
the hydrocarbon product to be further processed, significant risk reductions to production reliability.

HYDROCARBON 39 December 2016


ENGINEERING
article. The cost in terms of lost production ranged from
US$250000 to US$250 million per case, with the lost production
from all the failures in this database representing several billion
dollars worth of production losses for the industry.
The types of production failures experienced fall broadly
into five categories: off-specification hydrocarbon product,
corrosion, foaming, flooding and excessive amine loss (excluding
foaming losses). The relative frequency of their occurrence
specific to natural gas treatment (148cases) is shown in Figure 1.
From the figure, it is clear that the most frequent failure areas
facing the gas processing industry are foaming, product quality
and corrosion.
Figure 1. Number of cases of critical failure in natural
gas plants.
Foaming
Foaming occurs when gas is mechanically incorporated into the
amine liquid phase, resulting in a froth in which gas bubbles are
surrounded by a liquid film. The formation and stability of the
foam tends to be more strongly dependent on surface
characteristics of the liquid phase than physical conditions such
as temperature and pressure.1 A foaming amine plant is
characterised by high and erratic differential pressure
measurements in the absorber and/or regenerator columns.2 It
may also exhibit fluctuating level measurements and erratic flow
valve positions and, generally, results in reduced treating
efficiency, amine carryover to downstream systems and loss of
production capacity.
Root causes of amine plant foaming have been divided into
Figure 2. Root causes of foaming in natural gas 12 categories (Figure 2). 36 of the 46 recorded cases of amine
treating systems. system foaming in natural gas treating plants were found to have
foam promoting contaminants entering the plant with the feed.
From this finding it becomes evident that the proper treatment
Table 1. Inlet contaminants of the feed gas is key to lowering the foaming risk in gas plants.
Solid Liquid There are numerous potential feed gas contaminants
(Table1) that can promote or stabilise foaming. In order to
Scale Compressor lube oils
remove these before they enter the amine system and
Desiccant fines Hydrocarbon condensates
accumulate, a combination of three phase separators, knock out
Corrosion products Amines drums, particle filters and coalescing filters are typically used. For
Dirt (silica, sand, etc.) Glycols certain feed streams with unconventional contaminants, water
Iron sulfides Pipeline chemicals washes and silica gel beds may also be necessary.
It is critical that inlet separation equipment is attentively
Iron oxides Completion fluids
monitored and well maintained. A good review of these systems
Adamantane/diamantane Condensed water and how to operate them correctly is given in the paper by
Well brines Sheilan and Engel.3 Specific areas to be cognisant of include:
Organic acids nn Differential pressure over a filter should rise gradually with
time. Zero differential pressure for long periods of time is
To the authors knowledge, this is the first time that such not indicative of healthy filter operation and should be
a database has been compiled and published, specifically investigated.
focused on amine systems in natural gas plants. While the nn Differential pressure instruments should be in good working
root causes of these failures are not revelations to the order and operating limits not exceeded to prevent particle
filter and coalescing cartridge blow out.
industry, the frequency and likelihood of specific root causes
nn Cartridges that are present in particle filters and coalescers
occurring, relative to other common root causes, has not
should be installed correctly and securely to prevent
previously been qualified to this level of detail.
bypassing; filter cartridge elements are only as good as the
sealing surface between the element and the vessel, so care
Failure types must be taken during the cleaning and installation stages to
Of the 300 cases compiled in the study, 243 come from Amine ensure very close seals.
Experts field troubleshooting reports, with an additional nn Level control instruments and valves should be maintained
57being sourced from literature or other industry experts. In in good working order for equipment to function.
consideration of these cases, situations where production was
heavily impacted and an in-depth onsite analysis was carried out In gas plant service, the majority of foaming incidents
were looked at by an AmineExperts consultant or author of the occurred in the absorber or throughout the whole system. There

December 2016 40 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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reasons for gas to be off-specification are high lean loading or
improper amine temperature (Figure 3).
The idea behind the counter-current flow between gas
and amine in an absorber tower is that the last thing the gas
comes into contact with is the cleanest possible amine
(i.e.,with the lowest amount of acid species). The reason this is
important is because the H2S in the gas phase will be in
equilibrium with the H2S in the liquid amine solution. This
means the more H2S in the lean amine entering the top of the
tower, by default, the more H2S will remain in the treated gas.
This effect is more pronounced the lower the overall pressure
of the absorber.
Having high lean loading as the root of a production failure
Figure 3. Root causes of product going
offspecification in natural gas treating systems.
may be a result of insufficient heat being supplied in the
reboiler, insufficient contact with steam in the regenerator
column or the contamination of the amine with a strong base.
Strong base contamination is often the result of an over
vigorous addition of sodium or potassium ions, in order to
neutralise acidic components that build up in the system over
time.
Furthermore, there were 18 cases of insufficient exchanger
duty in the database, with duty limitations in the reboiler being
at the root of more than half of these cases. A reboiler duty
limitation in turn results in a high lean loading and puts the
product off-specification. Thus, high lean loadings are a
dominant precursor to off-specification production and should
be monitored frequently.
Depending on the desired specification for H2S and CO2,
Figure 4. Root causes of corrosion in natural gas the lean amine temperature can play a large role in treated gas
treating systems. composition. Lower lean amine temperatures will result in lower
H2S and high CO2 values in the treated gas. For this reason, the
industry standard is to maintain lean amine temperatures at
50C (122F) or lower (although there are plenty of exceptions).
Higher pressure absorbers and better regenerated amines
are more resistant to temperature effects. A good tactic for a
plant struggling to meet specification as a result of amine
cooling limitations is to lower the lean loading by increasing the
stripping of the amine solution.

Corrosion
Corrosion is described in many ways, but primarily it is the
destruction of a metal by the electrical or electrochemical
reaction with its environment. In the case of amine units, the
Figure 5. Corrosion locations in natural gas treating environment includes a number of serious corrosion promoters,
systems. such as acid gases (H2S and CO2), heat stable salts and their acid
precursors, chelants (that can remove any protective films that
may be formed), velocity and high temperature.
were very few cases of regenerator only foaming recorded in Historically, hydrogen embrittlement or hydrogeninduced
the natural gas industry. This is a result of the large role that inlet cracking (HIC) has been a frequent cause of corrosion in the
contamination plays in foaming incidents, as the first area to amine industry. However, most facilities built post-1990 use HIC
come into contact with surfactants in an inlet contamination resistant steels and, with the widespread adoption of post-weld
incident is the amine absorber. Once the amine has been heat treating, this form of corrosion is no longer the scourge to
contaminated, foaming will continue until the contaminant has the industry that it was before the 1990s.
been removed or diluted. In these cases, antifoam injection, Figure 4 provides a summary of the probable conditions
flash tank skimming, reflux purges and proper operation or that led to the corrosion failures. Figure 5 provides a summary of
maintenance of the particle filter and carbon bed are critical. the corrosion locations where localised failures have occurred.
Almost 75% of the locations are related to zones in the plant
Off-specification product where temperatures are higher, with almost 50% of corrosion
Gas leaving an amine absorber must meet certain H2S and CO2 incidents occurring in the reboiler and bottom section of the
specifications. It was determined that the most common amine regenerator column, which is connected to the reboiler.

December 2016 42 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Shoulder
to
shoulder.

Offering a full array


of C6 Foam Agents
system with the feedstock. The resulting acid-amine salt that
forms is not readily regenerable at amine system stripping
conditions, and is hence called heat stable.
HSAS build up to levels greater than 3 wt% significantly
increases the corrosive potential in the system. This is a
standard industry guideline that is generally consistent with
the information in the database; however, there were some
cases where corrosion was observed at lower levels. Heat
stable salts can be removed from an amine system by several
methods:
nn Amine replacement.
nn Ion-exchange.
nn Electrodialysis.
nn Vacuum distillation.
Figure 6. Reboiler housing corroded by excessive nn Thermal reclamation with base addition.
acid gas breakout. nn Neutralisation to HSS (limited due to precipitation and
corrosive potential).

With the exception of ionisation, corrosion in amine units is Degradation products


always highly localised (uncontaminated amine is in fact a Degradation products will build up within the amine system
corrosion inhibitor). The key to troubleshooting corrosion over time as a result of thermal exposure and the reaction of
incidences is to determine the local mechanism, and then amine with CO2 or O2. Some degradation products are
determine why that particular part of the plant failed to be corrosive and levels should be regularly monitored and kept
protected from corrosion. In natural gas plants, the majority of within vendor recommended limits. Limiting reboiler tube
corrosion is related to acid gas breakout and the subsequent temperatures to less than 165C (330F) will largely eliminate
attack of the metal surface, usually at areas of elevated thermal degradation in an amine system. Degradation
temperature. Since corrosion is a chemical reaction, high products are normally removed via installed thermal
temperatures will always accelerate corrosion activity because reclaiming or vacuum distillation, depending on the amine
reactions occur faster and more aggressively at higher type.
temperatures.
Under-stripping is a situation where a large amount of the Amino acids
acid gases in the rich amine are stripped in the reboiler (Figure 6) Amino acids develop in amine systems as a result of the
rather than in the regenerator column, making it the easiest ingress of oxidising components, e.g., O2, SO2 and SX, into an
form of corrosion to prevent. Excessive amine stripping in the amine system causing oxidative degradation of the amine
reboiler will often result in pitting type corrosion in the reboiler followed by subsequent reaction to amino acids. Bicine is one
and lower regenerator. This is avoided by maintaining adequate of several amino acids found in amine systems and has been
heat medium flow to the reboiler. Industry guidelines vary linked to corrosion.6, 7, 8 Bicine functions as a chelant,
between advising that 95- 99% of the acid gases present in the increasing the solubility of iron in amine by a factor of just
rich amine are stripped in the regenerator rather than the under 500.8 While several industry limits have been proposed
reboiler. for bicine, a review of the data does not reveal any
Good amine system hygiene is vital in preventing corrosion consistency in the level at which bicine will corrode a system.
and requires limitation of the potentially corrosive This may be due to the presence of other amino acids9
contaminants that may buildup in the system. These (e.g.,HES) that have historically not been analysed in amine
contaminants include: solids, degradation products, heat stable systems. Amino acids can be partially removed by ion
amine salts and amino acids. exchange and electrodialysis techniques or completely
removed by vacuum distillation.
Solids in the amine system
Solids in the amine system contribute to corrosion via the Conclusion
erosion of the metal or the passivation layers protecting it. Total Foaming, off-specification product and corrosion are the three
suspended solids should ideally be kept below 10ppmw based biggest challenges in reliably operating amine units and have
on a 0.45 m absolute filter test of the solution. Real solids cost the industry billions of dollars over the last 30 years.
levels in the system will differ as a result of increased solubility Foaming problems in gas plants have been found to be due,
of many solid precipitates with pH, agitation and temperature. predominantly (75%), to inlet contamination of the feed with
Adequate mechanical filtration and maintenance of the filters is, impurities that have surface tension affecting properties.
thus, indispensable.3 Under deposit corrosion is also a very real Adequate inlet separation equipment and proper maintenance
possibility if solids are allowed to settle anywhere in the unit. of existing equipment is critical.
Product not meeting its H2S specification is most commonly
Heat stable amine salts caused by high lean amine loadings and incorrect amine
Heat stable amine salts (HSAS) form via a reaction of the temperatures. Corrosion is the most complex operational issue
amine with a contaminant acid that typically enters the to troubleshoot, as well as the biggest health, safety and

December 2016 44 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
survey', Oiland Gas J., 5June 1989, pp. 45 - 52.
environment (HSE) risk. In a well designed system, that does not
5. SHEILAN, M., VAN HOORNE, E. and SPOONER, B., 'Iron Sulphide: Friend or
have a significant prior history of corrosion, the biggest risk Foe', 57th Annual Laurance Reid Gas Conditioning Conference, 2007.
factors are the amine solution quality and excessive reduction 6. CRITCHFIELD, J. E. and JENKINS, J. L., 'Evidence of MDEA degradation in
tail gas treating plants', Petroleum Technology Quarterly, Spring 1999,
of the heat medium to the reboiler. pp. 87 - 95.
Review of the catastrophic failures of 148 gas plants 7. BOSEN, S. F and BEDELL, S. A., 'The Relevance of Bicine in the
showed that approximately 50% of the failures could Corrosion of Amine Gas Treating Plants', NACE Paper No. 04481,
NACECorrosion 2004.
havebeen eliminated if the following had been in 8. CUMMINGS, A. L., WAITE, S. W. and NELSEN, D. K., 'Corrosion and
place/performed: Corrosion Enhancers in Amine Systems', Brimstone Conference,
Alberta, April 2005.
nn Adequate and well maintained inlet separation equipment. 9. CLOSMANN, F., THOMPSEN, J. and SCHUETTE, G., 'Advances in the
nn Proper regeneration of the solvent, such that lean amine Identification of Amino Acids and other products in degraded amine',
loading is low and the bulk of the regeneration occurs in 63rd Annual Laurance Reid Gas Conditioning Conference, 2013.
the regenerator.
nn Regular solvent quality
monitoring and having a
strategy to maintain HSAS,
degradation products,
amino acids and solids
within acceptable limits.

Based on these findings it is


advised that plant operators
recite the following motto on a
daily basis: separators on, heat YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE IN
in, salts out.

Acknowledgement PROCESS HEAT TRANSFER TECHNOLOGY


The authors would like to
acknowledge the
AmineExperts consultants
whose fieldwork and Do you need accurate heat exchanger technology for
experience provided the cases
for this database. They would real-world situations? Software and technical services to help
also like to thank the authors you design equipment that performs under the broadest range
ofthe external cases who have of operating conditions? IF SO, YOU CAN RELY ON US.
published their experiences
with sufficient care and detail
that others might learn from
them. HTRI is a leading provider of products
and services that help engineers
Note RESEARCH
around the world rate, simulate,
This article is based on a paper
design, and enhance the performance
first presented at the
GPAEurope Annual Conference
of heat exchangers. Our extensive TECHNICAL
on 21-23September 2016 in expertise is the result of more than SERVICES
Athens, Greece. 50 years of applied research
conducted in our industrially relevant
References testing facilities. We deliver research, TRAINING
1. SHEILAN, M. H., SPOONER, B.H.
and VAN HOORN, E., 'Amine technical services, training, support,
Treating and Sour Water
Stripping, 10th Ed.', Amine and software, including our acclaimed
Experts 10thEd., 2015. Xchanger Suite, to assure our SOFTWARE
2. KPHL, A. L. and RIESENFELD,F.C.,
'Gas Purification', 3rd Edition, customers the highest operating
GulfPublishing Company, 1979.
confidence in equipment designed
3. SHEILAN, M. H. and ENGEL,D., TECHNICAL
'The Seven Deadly Sins of using our technology.
Filtration & Separation Systems SUPPORT
in Gas Processing Operations',
GasProcessors Association
Annual European Chapter
Conference, 2015.
4. RICHERT, J. P., BAGDASARIAN,A.J.
and SHARGAY, C. A., 'Extent
of stress corrosion cracking Visit www.htri.net
in amine plants revealed by
to learn more.
COVER
FEATURE

Brad Cook,
SabinMetalsCorporation,
USA, discusses how
petroleum and petrochemical
refiners can enhance bottom
line profits by adjusting their
precious metal management
programmes.

December 2016 46 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
I
n lean times, cost effective internal policies ensure a company's survival.
Oil refining production revenues in the billions often appear to dwarf the
millions spent on precious metal catalysts, but mismanagement of these
high value materials can hit a company directly in the bottom line.
In many ways, the management of precious metal commodities is
counterintuitive, and therefore this article will present a look inside the world
of precious metals in order to demonstrate why and how a precious metals
management programme should be open to adaptation.

Platinum group metals


Platinum group metals (PGMs) are used in the production of a wide range of
everyday products, such as contact lenses, razors, mobile phones, fibreglass,
ibuprofen, pacemakers, fertilizer, cars, planes and boats, as well as in
applications such as eye surgery. These are but a few of the ways that this
group of elements (platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and
osmium) have changed, and continue to change, the quality of human life
around the world.
The grand total of all PGMs ever mined is estimated to be approximately
20 000 t. Three quarters of that was in the last 30 years, and 60% was in the
last 20 years. To put that in perspective, the global production of iron is
around 100 million t/month.1
Precious metals are likely to be among the most recycled substances on
the planet, as their value makes it worth the time and effort to retrieve it
from whichever form it is in. This article will start by looking at supply and
demand, and the technology behind them.

The market: historically and today


Figures 1 and 22 show platinum and palladium demand by application over the
last 10 decades; as one would imagine, demand for PGMs is growing steadily.
The demand picture over the last six years is quite interesting (Figure 3).
PGM as investment exchange traded funds (ETFs) is down almost 40% year on
year, jewellery use has fallen everywhere except Japan, and chemical and
industrial purchase has also slipped.3 The increasing demand for these metals
is almost entirely driven by automobile market expansion in the emerging
world. Automobile sales in emerging markets are predicted to double by
2030, but recent Chinese GDP figures might lower that estimate somewhat.4

HYDROCARBON 47 December 2016


ENGINEERING
Supply is slightly more complicated.2 South Africa produces
over 70% of platinum and almost 40% of palladium annually, and
these are some old mines. They are getting deeper and deeper
every year, and the ore quality continues to deteriorate. Mine
production has obviously recovered from the strikes, and they
continue to move stocks from inventory to maintain cash flow.3
Russia accounts for around 14% of platinum production and
over 40% of palladium production annually. While there is not
enough time to analyse Putin and the Russian government, it is
suffice to say that in the West there is little reason to hold great
confidence in the market stability in either of these regions, and
they hold roughly 80% of the worlds platinum and palladium
Figure 1. Platinum 1920 - 2015. underground reserves.
The recycling picture is deceptive (Figure 5). The industry has
recaptured 20- 25% of the demand over the last 10 years, but
recycling has fallen almost 20% from 2014- 2015. Analysts agree
that this is being caused by hoarding: the auto catalyst recyclers
are simply amassing stockpiles and waiting for the PGM prices to
rebound.2 The hidden concern is that more PGMs now end up in
the hands of consumers and small collectors than in the hands
of industry, and the difference in recovery from these two
groups is substantial.
When demand, supply and recycling figures are overlaid,
Figure 6 is produced. Total platinum supply is short of demand
by 750000troy ounces, and palladium is short by nearly
500000.2
On the mining side, developing new technologies is the only
Figure 2. Palladium 1920 - 2015. way to reduce costs while keeping workers safe in more harsh
conditions and working with lower ore quality. Clearly, however,
the industry needs to improve its recycling efforts.
The old paradigm in precious metals recycling was fairly
controlled; the industry returned over 90% of the PGM to the
refiners, and refiners knew what to expect as far as the elemental
matrix received. Refining systems were, therefore, built to handle
large streams of the same product and the clients were
corporations. This system began to radically change in the 1980s
when electronics and automotive catalysts became the new
main sources of recycled precious metals.
Auto catalyst, electronics, mobile phones, tablets and home
computers have created two major changes: one, many of the
obsolete items never make it back to the recycling process due
to improper disposal (somewhere between 20 and 40% of the
PGM is lost, according to some estimates); and two, the PGMs
Figure 3. PGM demand 2009 - 2015. within these devices have been combined with dozens of other
elements, making recovery complex and costly.
For example, Encyclopedia Britannica notes that there are
44elements in the average mobile phone.5 So, even when the
consumer does put his or her obsolete device into the recycling
chain, it must first go to the collectors, dismantlers and other
middle men, necessarily adding costs. Combine that with more
strict environmental controls, international shipping challenges
and five and 10year lows in PGM prices, and the growing
problem is observable; profit margins are shrinking, while
concurrently the consumer recycling model is dispersing smaller
profits over an increasingly long chain of secondaries. In short, it
is getting more expensive to recycle though environmentally
responsible behaviour and more cost effective recycling is what
the world needs.
Figure 4. PGM mined supply 2009 - 2015. So what can the users of precious metals begin doing
differently?

December 2016 48 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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tens of thousands, or, in some cases, hundreds of thousands
of dollars at risk. The traditional lowest price for services
strategy is counterproductive in the precious metals (PM)
industry because it gives no thought to the real money: the
hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in
precious metals value.
Most companies believe that the value of their assets
are known, so sell their catalyst by the kilogram to a broker
to save money. This is the biggest risk of all as there is no
way to determine precious metal content or values without
weighing, processing or sampling the entirety of the spent
catalyst, and then running a complete laboratory analysis.
This is what a responsible and effective PM refinery is
Figure 5. PGM demand 2009 - 2015. designed to accomplish. Therefore, the only way to obtain
maximum value return is to understand and actively control
this process:
nn A full understanding of the contract terms and
conditions should be ensured.
nn The proposed processing and sampling methods should
be reviewed with the PM refiner.
nn The PM refinery should be visited and its procedures
audited.
nn A reputable third party witnessing firm (or what is
known as an umpire company) can be hired to verify
the custody control, weights, etc. The best of these will
have accredited laboratories and can run assays on
behalf of a business.
The precious metals refining customer must also change
Figure 6. PGM stock movement 2009 - 2015. its understanding of the differences between precious
metals refining companies. All precious metals refiners are
not the same, technically or ethically. One major technical
What must change? example of the differences between refiners is how the
First, a company needs to forget about the conventional wisdom in metals are refined: pyro-metallurgical, that is, melting; or
purchasing and procurement that looks for the lowest price, because it hydro-metallurgical, where catalysts are dissolved in acids or
is a red herring. In PGM refining, the lowest price is often determined by strong caustics. Dissolving can be problematic due to the
a US$0.05 - US$0.10/lb difference in processing fees. The important part many factors that can create insolubility (a high temperature
of this equation is not the processing fee per pound, but the proper event in the reactor, large amounts of powders or fines,
weighing and sampling and accurate analysis, for without these PGM excessive carbon or other elements content, etc).6
values cannot be correctly determined. It takes trained personnel, Finally, there is another unfortunate difference between
calibrated equipment, time and experience to accomplish this. Degrees precious metals reclaimers to bring up: ethical compliance.
of accuracy are in direct correlation to the investment made in creating Extremely low terms can be given by the company that
them. distorts the PGM content by the tiniest fraction of a
There are companies that make taking the lowest bidder their percent.
corporate policy. Granted, these companies are trying to save on costs,
but is it considered wise to purchase the cheapest solution available? Conclusion
True wisdom would seek to create a balance between performance It may have been said before, but there is no place where
and quality and the fairness of price. As clients seek deeper and deeper this is more relevant than in the precious metals industry: it
discounts, the vendor does everything to reduce costs of labour and does not matter what a company knows until it knows what
raw materials, etc. Costs can be cut, production speed can be increased, matters. A company should know what its true monetary
but only to a point. Those who cross the line will suffer the priorities are and educate its employees. It should know the
consequences in some way, usually because they receive a poor quality details on how materials will be sampled and treated and
of product. In the precious metals business, the consequences would be have them verified, and, most of all, know exactly with
improper sampling, improper disposal of wastes, or other improper whom the company is dealing.
behaviour.
To illustrate the false economy: platinum is currently selling for References
1. USGS, 2016.
US$1000/ounce, and ABC Petroleum is set to reclaim 10 000 kg of spent
2. Johnson Matthey website, Market Research (May 2016).
catalyst. It can save US$0.10/kg over the nearest competitor by recycling 3. GFMS Annual Survey, Thompson Reuters website (September 2
016).
with Brand X. So the company saves 10 000 x 0.10, or US$1000, the same 4. SC-Abeam Automotive Consulting (2014).
5. Encyclopedia Britannica (2014).
as one ounce of platinum. Meanwhile, the improper or erroneous 6. JACOBSEN, R. T., 'Rhenium: A Hidden Asset,'
processing, sampling and/or laboratory work at Brand X can easily put HydrocarbonEngineering, June 2013.

December 2016 50 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
SEARCH
AND
IDENTIFY
Graham Shelver, 908 Devices, Inc.,
USA, discusses the use of ballistic gas
chromatography and high pressure
mass spectrometry to rapidly identify
hydrocarbons in complex matrices.

R
ecent technological advances have enabled many laboratory-based gas chromatography (GC) instruments for
laboratory-based testing analysers, such as Raman, this purpose for decades and, today, a wide range of GC
fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and analysers are used to monitor petrochemical production
X-ray fluorescence (XRF), to be re-engineered into processes using time-based compound detection. These
smaller form factors weighing just a few pounds. These analysers often require multiple valve/column combinations,
analysers are robust, reliable, rugged and capable of have poor size, weight and power (SWaP) signatures, and can
performing complex analysis by non-technical users in the lack the selectivity required to rapidly and positively identify
field. While there will always be a need for laboratory analysis, specific compounds within complex hydrocarbon mixtures
the availability of new fieldable technologies provide produced by catalytic reforming and steam cracking.
capabilities that facilitate immediate actionable answers at the
point of need. However, when it comes to the petrochemical Mass spectrometry
industry, such advances need to be balanced against a history While GC will no doubt continue to be used as the primary
of slow adoption of new technology. indicator of overall process performance, ensuring consistent
For the crude refining industrys roughly 650 primary product quality requires more definitive analyses to be
production facilities, which process upwards of 88millionbpd conducted using alternative analytical techniques. Mass
of crude, ensuring process stability and consequent product spectrometry (MS) is a well established analytical
purity of petrochemicals such as benzene, toluene and the methodology for measuring the mass of charged molecules.
xylenes remains paramount. Refineries have been deploying Since the mass/charge ratios (m/z) of molecules and their

HYDROCARBON 51 December 2016


ENGINEERING
footprint, system complexity, an absolute requirement for
continuous high vacuum (0.0001 Torr) and the specialised
maintenance needed to keep these systems operating
continuously are just a few of the reasons why the systems
have seen limited deployment.

GC high pressure mass spectrometry


Recently, a new generation of devices that represents the
combination of two enabling analytical technologies the
separating power of ballistic GC and the compound
identifying capability of a microscale, 3D Ion Trap High
Pressure Mass SpectrometerTM (HPMS) has been shown to
Figure 1. Total ion current (TIC) and extracted
selected-ion monitoring (SIM) traces of a reformate have several advantages over conventional GC-MS offerings.
sample showing selectivity and increased sensitivity The key differentiator is HPMS, which is quite literally the act
of SIM over TIC. of performing mass spectrometry at much higher pressures. A
high pressure mass spectrometer typically operates at
pressures of 1 - 4 Torr, which is up to 10 000 times less vacuum
than that required by conventional mass spectrometers. HPMS
enables several key components of the mass spectrometer to
be miniaturised, and the three elements that make up the
HPMS, namely the glow discharge ioniser, microscale ion trap
and faraday plate detector, are packaged in a 1 in.3 compact
core that can be easily removed and replaced by operators. As
a result, the need for large, continuously operating roughing
and turbo molecular vacuum pumps, which limit deployment
of conventional mass spectrometry within production
environments, is eliminated.
Figure 2. At the heart of GC-HPMS analysers are Unlike conventional GC analysers, which rely on inefficient
molecular traps a thousand times smaller than those air ovens for column heating, lightweight, portable GC-HPMS
in conventional mass spectrometers. devices instead use highly efficient resistive heating by
applying an electrical current across the metal capillary GC
column itself. These columns are capable of ramping at
5C/sec., which is 10 times faster than the heating rate of
conventional GCs and the low thermal mass of the thin walled
capillary column allows almost equally rapid cooling, as only
the column itself gets heated. The resultant analytical GC run
times, using GC-HPMS devices, are measured in seconds rather
than minutes and the combination of rapid heating rates with
short 4 - 8 m columns allows for ultra fast runs with
compound peak resolution being preserved.
The combination of the speed and efficiency of resistively
heated ballistic GC column modules, the reduced size and
vacuum requirements of the HPMS, and integrated, operator
centric software, enables the GC-HPMS devices to run
analyses with unprecedented levels of selectivity and
sensitivity in the low parts per billion range.
Figure 3. With GC-HPMS analysers, users can rapidly GC-HPMS offers analysts and plant operators a number of
perform testing in-line, at-line, in the laboratory and
unique benefits over conventional GC systems being used for
at remote field-based settings.
petrochemical analysis. Due to decreased cycle times,
improved selectivity and sensitivity, these systems can rapidly
fragments are unique, MS provides users with the ability to identify and quantify petrochemicals such as methanol,
distinguish between thousands of different molecules. As a ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene and xylene,
result, this technique is often referred to as the gold standard as well as low level impurities that include oxygenates and
of chemical analysis. sulfur species, within product reformate streams. Since
Traditional GC-MS instruments combine the compound GC-HPMS devices have been designed to have a favourable
separating power of GC with accurate MS-based identification SWaP signature and, unlike most current laboratory MS
and quantitation of molecules. However, despite having clear systems, are well suited for onsite use, these systems can be
advantages over regular GC detection, laboratory scale GC-MS easily deployed for routine online and at-line analysis.
systems have seen limited deployment at petrochemical Unlike conventional two dimensional, time versus response
production sites for various reasons. High initial cost, a large GC detectors such as a flame ionisation detector (FID) or

December 2016 52 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
thermal conductivity detector (TCD) HPMS
operates using an additional mass axis. This provides
users with the ability to positively identify and
quantify individual compounds in complex mixtures.
Figure 1 shows an example of the total ion
current(TIC) signal, the MS equivalent of an FID trace,
of a reformate sample. In order to confirm the
presence of benzene and toluene in this partially
unresolved mixture, two single ion mode (SIM)
extractions were analysed at 78m/z and 91 m/z,
respectively. The use of SIM also increases the signal
to noise ratio, which in turn significantly increases the
sensitivity of analysis, making it possible to quantify
these two compounds present in the reformate
without having to completely resolve these Figure 4. A critical component of GC-HPMS systems is the
components. Complete separation and resolution of JetStream system control and data analysis software. This
combines data from multiple detectors into a single stream of
each component would be a requirement for FID
quantitative results when needed.
analysis as this detector type is unable to discriminate
between hydrocarbon species if co-elute occurs,
which is common in complex mixtures. The use of are open to adopting new analytical technologies that ensure product
the new GC-HPMS significantly improves the ability quality and maximise the bottom line. However, for any new technology to
to accurately detect individual components and be successful, it is equally important for industry innovators to partner with
shortens analysis times from minutes to seconds, an forward leaning technology adopters to deliver unique solutions with real
important consideration within production value. These adopters must also be ready to rapidly scale the solution
environments. being offered. By leveraging purpose built and user-centric analytical tools,
such as GC-HPMS devices with their unique analytical capabilities, small
Conclusion size and low power consumption, there is enormous potential for
As petrochemical producers move forward, it is improved efficiencies that can result in time and cost savings for companies
important that decision makers within the industry involved with the production of petrochemicals.

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DISCOVERING
DIGITAL
I
Jaime Ruiz Cabrero and ndustry 4.0 and its impact on the petrochemical and chemical industry is not
only inevitable, but it is in many ways already here. Multiple petrochemical and
AsheeshSastry, The Boston chemical companies are already changing the way they operate their plants or
Consulting Group, Singapore, interact with clients, or are outright building new businesses through business
model innovation. All of this is enabled by the new digital capabilities and
examine the ongoing
opportunities available. To date, changes in most cases have been incremental, but
digital revolution within disruption will take place sooner rather than later.
SoutheastAsia's petrochemical The question is: how prepared is the industry to disrupt and not be disrupted? Is
disruption ready to be harnessed to get ahead of the curve and build a new
industry, examining how the competitive advantage?
region has transformed to reap Southeast Asia is one of the regions where strong chemicals demand growth is
still expected. For example, polyethylene demand is expected to increase at 4.5%
the rewards of tomorrow's over the next decade (Figure 1). However, Southeast Asian countries will not really
technology, today. enjoy a feedstock advantage as the US shale gas has changed the cost curve.
Moreover, any remaining feedstock advantage is going to decline in the near future
for the few companies that have this privilege currently (Figure 2). In the authors
view, fully embracing digital and riding the S-Curve will not only help contain the
threat from feedstock advantaged regions, but can also enable players and
companies in the region to develop a new competitive advantage. Building this
capability will be essential to regain the competitive advantage

Why now?
Not a single technological change on its own is really responsible for the digital
revolution, but rather a combination of building blocks of technology, including very
diverse elements such as cloud computing, big data, ubiquitous connectivity, sensors
or cognitive computing, that are enabling the revolution (Figure 3). Digitalisation of

HYDROCARBON 55 December 2016


ENGINEERING
Table 1. Digital opportunities in existence across the value chain
Feedstock sourcing Manufacturing Marketing Sales, distribution and logistics Application industries
Integrate with Predictive Direct channels E-commerce platforms. Compounding
the supplier maintenance. to access new Tracking customer placements Faster product development
procurement Profit maximisation customers. (trucks/shipments) and optimising enabled through 3D printing.
systems and reduce based on real time data Digital channel to logistics costs. Develop/test prototype of
inventory costs. for feedstock and end increase customer Sales force enablement. various industrial parts including
products. reach. aerospace, automotive, drones.
Link to key customer Product Automotive
data (grades, volumes) information and Develop tools that integrate
to adapt production ordering tools. automotive refinish value chain.
changes faster. Customer data Packaging
Automated analysis. Intelligent packaging that
manufacturing Online advertising. monitors product quality and
processes. informs consumer.
Impact: e.g., Impact: e.g., reduced Impact: e.g., Impact: e.g., reduction in supply Impact: e.g., ~2% increase in
reduction of maintenance expense GeoAnalytics chain costs by 2 - 5% of total revenue and >1% increase in
inventory costs by 15%; reduction in used to improve costs. profitability without additional
from 40% to 10%. unplanned maintenance pricing and margin Capex by improving converter
actions by 95%. improvement by 2%. performance.

and cognitive computing is enabling the development of new


Table 2. Chemical companies going digital
sources of insights across the value chain. These technologies
BASF Elementum solution for end to end visibility with have reached market maturity. That is, they deliver the expected
radio frequency identification (RFID) leveraged to track
performance reliably, are easy to use, flexible and cost effective.
valuable assets.
Who in each company is harnessing all of this data and
SOLVAY Created a 'digital office', which kickstarted innovations technological change to understand new opportunities be it
in supply chain collaboration and internal processes.
in manufacturing, supply chain optimisation, or customer
LANXESS Automated processes in logistics, barcoding and requirements and rapidly developing new
signalling for tracking and tracing of shipments.
products/solutions and deploying them in the field? Chances
Dow Uses spend analysis for raw materials spend; co-built are, no one is.
Chemical comprehensive exchange rate risk models.
Company
Why embrace digital?
Syngenta Uses an e2e network hub that automates business
Boston Consulting has noted a surge in interest and appetite for
transactions with downstream distributors.
digital in Southeast Asia, but also globally. Interest is picking up
P&G Pioneered control tower usage, handles 200terrabytes quickly and 'digital innovation' is now a key agenda on the
of data across 40 'Global Business Spheres.
C-Suite not just a problem for the chief information officer
3M Uses a big data program for low error forecasting from (CIO).
customers, sales, orders and suppliers data.
There are a huge variety of areas where petrochemical
companies can benefit from looking to a digital future, each of
them with a distinct value proposition: feedstock sourcing;
manufacturing; marketing; sales and distribution; and application
industries especially in all the cases with very clear impact
and/or value propositions (Table 1). Assuming a company
decides to immerse into digital, then the next question
becomes: where? Arguably the trouble begins here, as digital
can mean many different things, and its applications and new
possibilities can be applied in diverse steps of the value chain.
If one looks at what some leading chemicals companies are
doing in the digital arena, two areas stand out. On the one hand,
it is clear that chemical companies are jumping into digital and
the trend is just starting. On the other hand, each of them is
taking a completely distinct approach (Table 2).

How does a company go digital?


Going digital requires a carefully thought out strategy, a clear
Figure 1. PE demand in Southeast Asia. path forward and a programme mentality. It is not something
that can be improvised. Multiple companies have been assisted
business processes is occuring in every area, ranging from plant on their digital journeys and the following are some of the
operations, product movements, supply chain/logistics and lessons learned (Figure 4).
product pricing, all spewing rapid amounts of big data in real time. Similar to any other strategy, the first step is to define a
Cloud computing is establishing a 'single of truth' on the data cross-business unit (BU) digital vision and develop an initial
generated in a company enabling connectivity. Artificial intelligence portfolio of digital initiatives. If a real digital transformation is

December 2016 56 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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Furthermore, it is easy to establish quick wins and fund the digital
transformation ahead, both financially, but also to capture the
attention and buy-in of a company's employees.
As a second step, companies are advised to adopt the digital
commercial transformation. A company's digital journey now
becomes visible to external stakeholders, namely clients and
suppliers. At this stage, companies need to start digitally enabling
the organisation; employees need to feel that the digital
transformation is real. When internal stakeholders are affected, this
is when a company can reach the leading edge and start capturing a
competitive advantage from the digital transformation. While this is
applicable to more flexible and agile companies, it also includes
companies with higher and better client intimacy and engagement.
Reaching the bleeding edge, that is, fully embracing the
potential of digital, implies developing really disruptive business
model innovation. Re-thinking what to do and how this will be
Figure 2. Global ethylene cost curve. executed means developing new platforms for growth.

The bleeding edge requires innovative


organisations
Taking the digital transformation to its maximum opportunity, that
is to innovate new digitally enabled business models, requires an
overhaul of an organisation's culture, structure and capabilities if
the company is to be successful in the effort.
An organisation with a flat hierarchy and flexible roles and
responsibilities is ideal. Cross asset/functional collaboration
between units must be effortless and fluid, as traditional hierarchies
may stifle innovation.
The processes that govern an innovative digital company, or
business unit, need to encourage such collaboration and enable trial
and error cycles. In disruptive businesses it can be hard to get it right
Figure 3. Many former technology dreams are now a the first time. An environment that fosters experimentation, and
reality. avoids slow approval processes that could essentially choke the
organisation's innovations efforts, is beneficial to the process.
The physical environment and infrastructure has to be
conductive of the above. It requires the latest technology and must
allow for physical mobility, flexibility and temporariness, even
within the actual working space. It is critical to avoid lack of space
and a feeling of real state inflexibility. Being close to other
innovation centres is also important to facilitate cross-pollination.
As stated above, a key element of success is to truly embrace an
innovation culture, one driven by passion and motivation for
technology, ready to allow for fast failures that are seen as a way to
experiment and learn until a successful innovation can be launched.
Of course, the cornerstone is having the right people. Digital
natives are essential to any such team, these being individuals well
Figure 4. A digital transformation, typically structured connected in the startup scene. This does not necessitate a huge
in four phases. amount of people, but rather a few digital leaders. The challenge, of
course, is to find and attract those individuals to a company. Getting
desired, a significant change in management efforts is needed. It the rest of the elements right will help to attract such individuals.
is critical to instill a digital mindset across an organisation and
re-think the setup required to support a truly transformative Conclusion
digital vision. Really successful plans tend to include a classic The industry is at the cusp of witnessing disruptive models in the
100 day plan it is important to signal to the organisation that chemicals space albeit in niche areas across the value chain to
the change is real, and not just a new logo and website. start with, which can and will quickly spread across. Getting ahead
Digital transformations, structured in three distinct waves, in this game requires companies to start now, develop a digital
should be examined. Firstly, companies need to capture the strategy and understand how unique assets can be leveraged to
obvious and immediate operations improvements derived from build a competitive advantage. Established players with strong
new technology opportunities. The sooner the table stakes are assets are best positioned to lead this disruption. But they need to
embraced, the earlier efficiency benefits can be captured. be prepared for the journey.

December 2016 58 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
AN ACTIVE 3D
ENTERPRISE
PLATFORM
John Bell,
INOVX Solutions,
USA, explains how
active 3D model
platforms can assist
downstream operators
in improving
asset productivity
and reducing
maintenancecosts.

O
ne of the biggest challenges faced by companies realtime data, along with data from systems of record, from all
operating in hazardous environments such as refining, enterprise assets
oil and gas, and other industrial settings, is the
administration of ageing assets and related Active 3D models
infrastructure. Moreover, the lack of awareness among The majority of 3D tools currently available have been created
organisations about the status, deployment and utilisation of for the exclusive domain of design and build engineers and, as
assets can be detrimental to the operational effectiveness of a such, were designed to be passive in their nature and for end
facility. Effective asset management and asset integrity user viewing only. This can be problematic due to the fact
management systems will help augment the value of assets, that within the first few days after a plant handover, or as the
improve reliability, and decrease wrench time and downtime. plant goes live, any changes made to the plant could render a
The challenge is to be able to leverage vast amounts of asset passive 3D model immediately out of date, and could quite
data into a user friendly coherent and reliable environment possibly become a danger to the inspection or maintenance
without a prohibitively costly data warehouse initiative and user. Therefore, the use of an active 3D model in the
multi-year data management initiative. Organisations must have operation of an industrial plant is essential for successful
effective business applications in place that interoperate with operations.
one another to optimise the operational management of both The ability to interoperate with all of the major business
inspection and maintenance processes. In order to accomplish applications is crucial to add value to the inspection and
this, there must be a platform in place that captures active maintenance execution. This is achieved through an active

HYDROCARBON 59 December 2016


ENGINEERING
and solutions for 3D asset integrity management to companies in
the process industry. INOVX integrates the operational
management of both inspection, maintenance and safety processes
with accurate and complete active 3D models of all enterprise
assets, specifically designed for the end user operator.
The web-based solution is designed in such a way that it is
interoperable, customisable and extensible. The intuitive
3Dinterface allows end users to access plant information for
decision support, work planning, execution and analysis, reliably
and efficiently. In addition, the interface provides the tools for the
operator to reflect change requests within the model itself and
allow an integrated workflow to route any change request for
approval. Changes within an active 3D model can take minutes,
Figure 1. Users can have immediate access to plant without users being forced to go offline while changes are made.
data from any mobile device. Finally, using the engineer's mobile device of choice, maintenance
routines can be optimised to continually survey asset points close
to the point of operation. The end result delivers a 24/7 active
model, always current, and interoperating in real time with all
associated data sources.
Mobile device access is leading the next wave of carrying out
business and allowing end users immediate access to data. Rather
than print out an inspection routine with 2D isometrics, asset
history, shutdown procedures, etc., onto hundreds of pages of
paper, users can utilise the information that has been created for
online access via a browser, mobile devices, or packaged onto a
portable file to a mobile device for offline navigation, with or
without network connectivity.
All too often, plant engineers are uninformed because data is
Figure 2. Mobile access that provides 3D asset
either unavailable or not interoperable. This is due to the lack of
integrity management.
available platforms containing information that leverage enterprise
data, which can ultimately result in productivity gains in the
3Doperational model of the entire plant. The active 3D model workflows of both inspection and maintenance. In response to this,
answers the fundamental questions: what is the asset? Where INOVX has launched a new software platform, V-Suite. The
is the asset? How is the asset performing? What are its 3Dasset integrity management platform integrates operational
operating procedures? When is its next inspection due? Are management of both inspection and maintenance processes with
there any permits open or overdue? A myriad of questions, accurate and complete active 3D models of enterprise assets. The
where an immediate, up to date visualisation is the best way search engine allows users to navigate to, and view in detail, any
to represent the current status, and to answer: what needs to asset and automatically associate data that can provide intelligence
be carried out to maintain optimum performance? In addition, with regard to asset performance, location and access points,
the end users should be able to engage with assets in the interconnected dependencies, real time isometric preparation,
manner they choose, whether at their desk in the engineering integrated piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs), shutdown
office, as a field inspector utilising a notebook or tablet, or as and startup procedures, asset performance history, etc.
a maintenance engineer using a combination of media, from V-Suites web-based and mobile device deployment can add
paper to android, or a mobile device of their choice. Remote significant additional value by presenting asset information and
workers may also be required, and so the presentation of a specific end user applications in support of organisational needs in
3Denterprise model through a web browser can extend the ways not otherwise possible. This is further enhanced by
use still further. integration with existing enterprise asset management (EAM)
systems already in place within an enterprise. In preparation of
Management of change inspection routines alone, companies measured 40% productivity
Fundamental to a 3D enterprise model adoption is its ability to gains, greater accuracy of observation uploads, and seamless data
effectively represent the current ('as is') status of the plant. A uploads and interoperativity.
3Dmodel becomes redundant if it is full of inaccuracies, or is
out of date. Therefore, the importance of having a sophisticated Case study
but simple to use 'model management of change' becomes INOVX has experience in the management of plant industries,
essential to the 3D platform adoption and continual use. heavily focused on deployable, functional operational business
applications based around an active 3D model. Recently, a
Mobile and web-based solutions company development team was commissioned by a large
INOVX Solutions has been a primary player in the evolution of industrial complex in the MiddleEast to place thickness
technology in support of operational inspection and measurement locations (TMLs) across the sites entire pipeline
maintenance in industrial facilities. The companys 'asset network. The extensive engineering design would have required
virtualisation and deployment anywhere' concept has focused over 3000 TML placements, requiring a great amount of time and
on advanced solutions in support of operational engineers and resources. By applying a sophisticated placement algorithm
maintenance engineering uses. As such, it provides a platform designed by the development team, the number of TMLs required

December 2016 60 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
was reduced by half, thus shortening the data gathering and
analysis by half, without any compromise of the pipeline
network. This resulted in a saving of thousands of hours and
hundreds of thousands of dollars for the complex.
The use of 3D interoperability with the sites inspection
application allowed the company to automate the creation of
intelligent workpackages (KnowledgebooksTM), which included
full isometric 3D images to locate and identify TMLs scheduled
for review and any associated dependancies and equipment
requirements (lifts, scaffolding, etc.) within minutes. Whereas
previously the workflow could take days of data gathering and
print outs, it is now completely automated and free of paper.
Of further value was to link the risk-based inspection (RBI)
programme, which, although rich in function, without the
interoperability of the 3D enterprise platform, had no ability to Figure 3. An active 3D enterprise model in the
create the visualisation necessary to immediately identify hot operation of an industrial plant is essential for
spots and the location of high risk assets. The result was instant successful operations.
identification of assets with associated data for shutdown and
startup procedures, and engineering drawings from the
organisations content management system, all prepared in a applying the technology into plant operations, 3D has largely
Knowledgebook within seconds of triggering the RBI query. been passive and design engineer focused. Effective active 3D
The INOVX 3D platform, initially installed to provide greater model platforms are based on relational database technology
insight for the inspection team, is now providing huge value designed specifically for plant operation management, rich in
across a number of areas, inlcuding maintenance, operations, end user functionality. The addition of full mobility provides a
health and safety, and hazard and operability (HAZOP) studies, deployable active 3D solution for plant operations. The end
and will continue to be the sites enterprise plant result includes higher asset productivity, reduced maintenance
3Dvisualisation and interoperabilty platform for years to come. costs and increased visibility of the operations and asset
performance all of which lead to enhanced situational
Conclusion awareness and certainty regarding information about assets. This
3D has been the domain of the design engineer for over provides operators with greater safe uptime and predictive asset
20years. Despite operational management seeing use in performance, thus optimising overall plant infrastructure.
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Marc Laing, NEL, UK, explores the use of computational fluid dynamics for flow
modelling in oil and gas applications.

A MODEL
SOLUTION
M
ost engineers are used to working with what is CFD uses complex differential equations to analyse fluid
known as analytical modelling, a mainstay of flows affected by influences such as heat transfer, chemical
engineering design and analysis where derived reactions, phase changes or pipework configurations. The first
equations are used to evaluate an exact solution to academic developments in CFD were made in the 1960s and
a given problem. However, the problem with analytical 1970s, but it was not used extensively in the commercial world
modelling is that, as companies attempt to model ever more until the 1980s, first by the aerospace industry and later by the
complex phenomena, the underlying equations also increase in automotive industry.
complexity. This ultimately becomes a barrier when the CFD is now extensively used by the oil and gas industry
equations become too complex to be solved using analytical because it allows engineers to quickly tackle complex problems
mathematics. and optimise designs on a timescale that would have been
Used to predict and simulate the detailed three unthinkable only a few years ago.
dimensional behaviour of complex, multi-component fluid The recent advancement of computer technology,
flows, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling is a combined with high performance computing (HPC) and cloud
powerful technique used in a wide range of industrial computing solutions, have dramatically increased the detail that
applications. can be included in modern models.

HYDROCARBON 63 December 2016


ENGINEERING
Maldistribution of flow can result in catalyst exhaustion, which is
costly to recover. Separation is also a critical process and this can be
optimised with the use of CFD. This can provide an operating
window where it is known that good separation will be achieved.
Thermal fatigue of mixing tees is also a common issue, which
again can be resolved with CFD. CFD can be used to determine the
temperature distribution across the mixing tee, and the results from
this can be coupled to a finite element analysis (FEA) tool, which can
predict the lifetime of the tee under the conditions modelled. This
can be factored into the maintenance schedules and changed before
failure occurs. Operating a successful plant requires each component
of the process to operate at a high efficiency.
Figure 1. CFD model of a mixer. As the proposed number of floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG)
projects grows, due to the requirement to produce stranded gas
reserves in very remote offshore locations such as Africa and
Southeast Asia, it is necessary to comprehensively consider the
safety aspects of this type of operation.
CFD is being used to model the layout and spacing of
equipment/vessels to minimise the risk of explosions, overpressure
and fire exposure damage. CFD is also used in these types of
situations to predict the performance of their proposed designs to
internal and external fluid flow.
CFD can also be used to improve flare metering accuracy on
both floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels and
refineries. In general, flare metering systems use single path ultrasonic
flow meters. Single path ultrasonic meters are very sensitive to
disturbances in the flow profile, and this can often result in large
metering errors. Owing to the physical constraints of a plant, it can
be difficult to position the flow meter in an ideal location, therefore
metering errors are inevitable.
CFD is used to compare the flow profile of the 'as installed' case
Figure 2. CFD model showing gas volumes through to that of the ideal installation and, thus, produce a correction factor
pipe. that can be applied to the meter. This allows the meter to be used in
the non-ideal location with the effect of the metering error negated.
This can be carried out easily for flare gas systems, but could not
CFD applications be applied as readily to custody transfer meters given the degree of
Unlike physical testing, there are no size or weight limits when it uncertainty required.
comes to CFD modelling, and, for complex models, users are
only limited by the computational power available. One area Complex process
where it can prove invaluable is in the development of While CFD offers a simple solution, it actually involves a complex
equipment for use in the field. Using CFD to undertake process to achieve reliable predictions. As the capabilities of
computer simulation before physical testing means that a computers have increased, this has allowed ever more sophisticated
model can be tested using multiple variables, with conjugate simulations, which enable engineers to take into account a
comparatively little cost compared to physical testing, and can wider range of physical phenomena within a single simulation, in
highlight any potential issues early in a project lifecycle. order to better replicate field conditions.
CFD also has advantages over physical testing physical This demonstrates a real step forward in capability compared to
testing can often be very complex, and expensive to measure even five years ago. Computational meshes are now typically in the
and control all of the required parameters, such as fluid film order of tens of millions, compared with 10 years ago when models
thickness, droplet size and sand particle concentration. With would have less than 1million cells in total.
CFD it is possible to measure as many parameters as required, While this step forward in computing and engineering capability
thus the data produced from CFD analysis is likely to be far has enabled the industry to address problems that were previously
more comprehensive than could reasonably be achieved unthinkable, with it they bring the risk that engineers are losing touch
through physical testing. with their inherent understanding of the numerical methods they are
When operating a refinery, it is important to maximise using and why they need to be applied to particular problems.
uptime to achieve the maximum profit possible. Any undesired The increased usability of modern software interfaces means
downtime can have a huge effect on the operating margins and, that the industry is starting to rely too heavily on computers, and
therefore, should be eliminated or kept to a minimum by losing touch with the ability to make engineering judgements
comprehensive analysis of the plant. This can be carried out beyond what the technology informs the user a solution should be.
using CFD to predict the performance of different components, While it is possible to start running simulations immediately, with
as well as helping to predict equipment lifetime. little formal training, the danger is that it disguises the underlying

December 2016 64 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
complexity of the problem and allows engineers to attempt to and, therefore, more robust. Alternatively, the final CFD model
tackle problems without a full understanding of the issues can be cross-checked by using multiple software solutions or
involved. different modelling approaches. If the various results concur, then
One of the issues here is that, as numerical modelling the CFD model can be relied on.
becomes more complex, it is increasingly difficult to keep a There is, of course, also the priceless approach of the
handle on the sensitivity of the solution to given modelling engineers skill and knowledge, using engineering judgement and
choices, such as the numerical methods, boundary conditions, experience, which can be used to examine the CFD output to
solution controls, etc. This makes engineering experience critical determine whether the solution is at least logical and roughly
if one is to be confident of obtaining a good solution. correct.
In essence, it is critical that CFD modellers fundamentally
understand the physics being solved by the software in order to Conclusion
obtain accurate predictions. If this is the case, modelling errors CFD is therefore a complex but, at the same time, flexible tool
can be significantly reduced by ensuring that models are not used that can be used in a vast range of applications. The hope is that,
outside of operational range. The use of physical test data for as accuracy increases, the amount companies spend on testing
validation purposes also adds further confidence to predicted may reduce, since a test matrix may be conducted numerically
results from CFD. with only the need for a validation test, which would streamline
To reduce levels of error and increase confidence in a result, the testing phase. Although this is still some time off, the synergy
model validation is, therefore, vital. This is because, before a between numerical modelling and physical testing is clear.
company can consider using a modelling approach for a real However, despite its wide reach across industry, it is
world application, it must first be confident that the method important to remember that CFD is still just a prediction method.
selected to solve a problem is correct. If the inputs, in the form of Without clear and traceable model validation, there is no
the model chosen, are incorrect, then the resulting solution to definitive means of assessing just how accurate a solution might
the problem will be inaccurate. By validating the correct model, be. Numerical modelling should, therefore, always be
one can be assured that the degree of error characterised allows accompanied by some form of validation. This might take the
for acceptable safety margins to be applied when using modelling form of engineering experience gained over years of CFD
when designing pipeline systems. modelling, comparison with simple analytical modelling,
There are a number of ways a CFD model can be validated. It engineering judgement or ideally experimental testing, or real
can be compared against analytical calculations that are simple world data.
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Paul Hill, Hill Consultants Ltd,
UK, debates whether performance
standards can be applied in
onshore hazardous facilities.

ONSHORE
SAFETY
STANDARDS

December 2016 66 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
P
erformance standards have been used in the offshore oil normally be modified following construction and first operation.
and gas industry for many years and have successfully Fast acting instrumentation and the replacement/re-tuning of
guided the design, selection and measurement of the shutdown valves can result in the unit or facility seeing higher
effectiveness of safety critical equipment. By providing a upstream overpressures, causing other instruments to initiate other
group of performance standards for an installation, all interested controls and/or safeguards. These may cause hydraulic shocks in
parties can determine if the current status of the safety critical the system, that did not previously experience them, can lead to
equipment allows for the production of the hydrocarbons and the mechanical protective devices being initiated, e.g.,pressure relief
associated transportation to onshore facilities. valves popping, if they are present, and can react fast enough to the
These performance standards can be categorised into the major pressure transient. Obviously, if there is no control of these
accident hazards associated with an offshore installation. Examples overpressures, there is a potential for a loss of containment, with its
of these could include loss of containment, helicopter failure, ship consequences of chemical release, possible explosion and fire, etc.,
collision and diving incidents. All of these high level risks have safety and resultant harm.
critical equipment to minimise or control the risks. These barriers Improving safety in a facility can increase reliability and unit
need to be integrated into the facility, and must be available and availability, with the potential of increased production. However,
meet some minimum criteria to allow a safer production facility to this must be balanced by an increased requirement for maintenance
function. activities of the safety and environmentally critical equipment and
An onshore facility, such as a refinery, can be spread over many systems. Having an understanding of the safety systems installed,
square kilometres. A failure in one part can impact multiple streams, and their importance in protection, allows the operations teams, in
units and zones. If the process design and instrumented systems consultation with the technical safety engineers, to determine
have taken into account the loss of a stream, or multiple streams, when and if production must be stopped, or, if operations can
then safeguards within the units will prevent, or minimise, the continue with the addition of temporary safeguards, following
hazardous event occurring. How often are these safeguards function failure of a safety critical equipment item. To help in the decision
tested for correct performance in the event of an emergency making processes, the performance standards, where these are
condition? The difficulty with this question is 'how safe is safe', and available, can be reviewed along with the process safety and
how does an older refinery or petrochemical complex achieve this? process and instrument drawings. Reviewing the latest and most
Where an older facility requires upgrading, the process and recent risk assessments for the units, such as the hazard and
safety design is normally revisited and appropriate safety operability (HAZOP) study, the layer of protection analysis (LOPA) or
equipment added. There is a high risk when introducing fast acting regulatory criteria and licence to operate conditions, will be of great
instrumented safeguarding systems that it will introduce response help. Reviewing all the relevant sections for these data sources is
times that the processing unit has not been designed for. This can time consuming and not always straightforward. Therefore, the use
lead to perturbations in the process resulting in an overall loss of of performance standards can significantly speed up the review and
process control, as the safeguarding dominates the system and decision making. Links to the relevant documents and operating
prevents successful operation for extended periods. Design manuals can be included. These can be used to check that there
pressures and temperatures of the equipment and piping cannot have been no changes in the process or safety design intent.

HYDROCARBON 67 December 2016


ENGINEERING
What is required in a performance associated safeguards, along with additional links to
standard? maintenance procedures and the facilities' responsibility matrix,
Performance standards are specific to a particular type of can allow rapid resolution of non-compliance conditions.
safeguard, including, for example, flammable gas detection, fire Use of modern techniques, such as BowTie assessments, can
and smoke detection, overpressure protection, or to enable provide visual pictures of the various risk levels in different parts
evacuation and escape, such as access and evacuation routes, of the refinery or petrochemical complex for major accident
escape lighting, temporary refuges, etc. Within each category the hazards. Linking BowTie diagrams to audit questions generated
scope is defined, along with the goal to be achieved and the by the safety specialist using the diagrams, and responded to by
main functions that need to be performed in an emergency. In the operators, can be entered back into the BowTies. Using the
addition to these, the requirements for the availability and performance standards and other criteria, such as layer of
reliability for the category needs to be addressed and recorded. protection analysis (LOPA), the responses can be assessed, and
The various elements that fall under the particular performance the health status of each of the safeguards within each unit
standard can then be listed. In this way, a single performance determined.
standard might apply to many pieces of equipment. For example,
a performance standard for safety valve(s) may have only one Improving the process
valve detailed, or it could apply to 20 or more. It is important to ensure that the performance standards are
How a performance standard requirement is written is also regularly reviewed and all associated documents updated, if
very important. The requirement described in the performance relevant systems are changed due to a process, instrument or
standard should be, wherever possible, written in a way that can operation modification(s). The requirements for each
be easily measured and recorded. An example would be the level performance standard should be the lowest acceptable criteria
of lighting required to escape from an area. The performance that allows the systems it is associated with to be safely
standard could be written to say: shutdown. However, the functional criteria actually achieved by
nn Lighting to a certain lux level is required at floor level at the safety critical item can, and should be, significantly better.
night time. This would require using a light meter to This can increase the time between complete maintenance tasks
measure and record this. (this may need a plant section to be shut down and positively
nn Alternatively, the lighting along the escape route is sufficient isolated for testing) and enable partial testing of the safety
so a person is able to see obstacles along their route. critical item's functionality requirements.
Protecting the equipment and support systems that have
The second of these is simpler to determine, to test and safety critical equipment items and performance standards must
does not require additional equipment. Auditing of compliance be the first priority of all personnel on site. In the end, multiple
should be easily demonstrated, or not, and, if required, high layers of protection are typically required to eliminate or reduce
priority maintenance undertaken to rectify the situation. The the severity and the probability of the hazardous event(s)
relationship of a performance standard may be influenced by occurring. Organisations that have invested sufficient time and
other performance standard(s), and so reference to associated effort into maintaining the functional criteria of their safety
performance standards should be provided on each as required. critical elements tend to have a culture that prioritises safety and
environmental compliance. In turn, the safety and environmental
Getting priorities right compliance leads to less surprises, with any event managed and
An increased use of performance standards could improve controlled. The introduction of Safety Integrity Level (SIL)
standardisation in a process design and allow for the assessments in the form of IEC61511 Functional safety safety
simplification of maintenance activities. These are then instrumented systems for the process industry sector and the
undertaken on the highest priority requests first (based on safety equivalent ANSI/ISA 84.00.01-2004 in the US, has re-emphasised
or environmental risk ranking), as well as the routine daily task engineering companies, designers and technical safety engineers
order sequence. into understanding where and when instrumented barriers need
Some companies use at least three levels of prioritisation: to be applied. The best safeguard is to implement the principles
nn Immediate (within a shift to a few days). of inherent safety from the start. For example, using vessels and
nn Medium (within one week to a few months). piping design pressures above that which can be achieved by the
nn Low (non-critical after a six month, or longer, timeframe). process can significantly reduce the number of safety critical
equipment items required. This, in turn, can reduce the number
Using this type of approach allows critical equipment to be of instrument tappings needed and their potential leak points.
repaired quickly and then routine maintenance and medium Older facilities that need upgrading are not always able to
priority equipment repairs are completed, before any of the low benefit from this approach and engineers use the application of
priority requests. Low priority maintenance activities can move safety critical equipment and barriers in an attempt to prevent
up the list from low to medium if they start to impact on the the high/low pressure and high/low temperature interfaces
safety or environmental compliance. from damaging the weaker system(s). This increase in the safety
Maintaining the status of the items covered by the equipment count will require more maintenance, with associated
performance standards allows an operating company to staffing and contractor support on site. This increase in the
manage its production profile. Some units may be able to number of people on site can elevate the risk level, due to the
produce at full capacity, while others are at reduced capacity, additional personnel exposure.
but at all times the level of risk exposure is known. The
performance standards are only part of the understanding of Conclusion
risk on the hazardous facility and they are significant in the Where safeguards are required, and maintained to a specified
technical safety management of the complex. Due to the size standard and functionality, when an uncontrolled event occurs
of refineries or petrochemical complexes, with many tens of there should be a reduced likelihood of further failures in the
units, the management of all this information can become a unit or refinery. For these reasons, understanding the safety and
complex and daunting task. Documenting the risks and environmentally critical equipment should be a high priority.

December 2016 68 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
The third eye

in the field
Benedikt Eckert, Bartec GmbH, Germany, discusses how a base oil producer used
explosion proof mobility solutions to effectively protect personnel, equipment
and the environment in hazardous areas during a routine inspection.

I
n order to improve marketing for its high quality base At the threshold
oils and achieve a more economical production process, What still sounds futuristic today could soon be standard
while effectively protecting people, the environment equipment in the process industry at least in the
and equipment in hazardous areas, Puralube Germany speciality chemicals or petroleum industries, with their
relies on explosion-proof enterprise mobility solutions high technology products. Puralube produces high quality
supplied by Bartec. and sustainable base oil specialities, which are made from
The view through the fence of the company premises is used oil from the Zeitz industrial park, according to the
reminiscent of science fiction; the man in blue overalls UOP HyLubeTM process. Market requirements are becoming
looks at a flat screen on his arm, he has a camera on his even higher, as the specifications are becoming increasingly
helmet. With the following head movement, a red point of more stringent. Low viscosity oils for cars are getting
light travels through the complex system of pipes and thinner, but under no circumstances may they lose the
valves to a certain destination in the system. Using his lubricating function that is vital for the operation of the
bluetooth headset, the mobile worker communicates with engine. In order to honour promises such as this to the end
a colleague. He presses a button on the helmet camera, customer, not only must the production processes be
looks down at the screen on his arm and continues on to documented completely, but they must also be monitored
the next inspection point. more carefully.

HYDROCARBON 69 December 2016


ENGINEERING
becoming a mobile enterprise, as part of its ongoing
repositioning as a high tech company. The right partner for this
evolution has already been found, and the choice was Bartec.
The companys explosion protected portfolio of solutions
ranges from smartphones and tablet personal computer (PC)
systems to Wi-Fi helmet cameras and cross device mobile
devices management (MDM) with corresponding cloud services.

Intrinsically safe smartphones


All partial solutions of the mobile strategy were developed
directly from practice. For example, the ATEX and IECEx
certified (Zone 1), high end smartphone, Impact X, arose from a
close collaboration with Shell. For use in the petroleum
industry, the device has a touch display protected by 2 mm of
Figure 1. In the speciality chemical and oil industries, Gorilla Glass, which can be reliably operated both in heavy
enterprise mobility solutions in hazardous areas are rain, as well as in direct sunlight, and even when wearing thick
insisted upon. safety gloves. Moreover, the Impact X also has three cameras
and a battery capacity that lasts twice as long compared to
consumer devices.

A mobile office
If technicians and engineers want to safely bring their office into
potentially explosive areas, this is possible either via Wi-Fi or
mobile data radio with the ATEXZone2 and
ULClass1Div2certified tablet PC system, Agile X. The high
resolution 10.1 in. LED display is also well suited for visualising
plant layouts. AgileX is equipped with an integrated barcode
scanner for mobile data collection. Optionally, there are other
sensors to choose from, for example, a radio frequency
identification (RFID) reader, which is connected through a rear
port. Puralube Germany intends to ensure that every stage, even
the last document process at the refinery namely the
incoming and outgoing goods will be mapped digitally.

A third eye
The Zone 1 by CSA, IECEx and ATEX certified Wi-Fi helmet
Figure 2. Special tablet PCs bring the office into camera, Orbit X, aims for more flexible and efficient operation, a
hazardous areas. Integrated barcode scanners and better workflow and fast, accurate onsite decisions. As a result
optional sensors are available for mobile data
of two integrated LED lights, a built in laser pointer and optional
acquisition.
accessories, such as headsets, wall mounts and telescopic rods,
Puralube Germany also developed, with Shell, more high tech
Full process control solutions designed for dark and difficult to access areas. The
As a result of this development, the testing and inspection clear, colour intensive, 8 megapixel (MP) photos and 1080 p
intervals are shortening. At the end of the development, there is videos can be stored either locally on the device, or wirelessly
a process capability index (CPI) value of nearly 100%. However, streamed at a high quality. Therefore, the included Androidapp,
this is only realistic if the employees are always connected SIPIDO Mobile Telepresence, supports not only all session
online with the processes onsite at all times, and can initiation protocol (SIP) enabled video conferencing systems and
immediately recognise deviations. Starting from an extremely applications, but also the browser-based real time
high level of automation, Puralube Germany also wanted to communication via web real time communication (WebRTC).
close the last gap in the direction of real time access to the
process data. In the future, if an operator at the refinery wants Mobile device management
to query the current situation in a particular bubble tray, he or For rapid deployment and management, Bartec has developed a
she does not have to make a decision first, but rather can do scalable mobile device management solution, Collaboration X.
this directly from the relevant column. A glance at the display is With this, Puralube Germany can roll out and remotely
sufficient. If the light is green, everything is fine. administer all mobile devices from Bartec uniformly including
video conferencing and camera settings. Due to the additional
Strategically motivated solutions cloud storage service, online photo and video storage can also
To make process information available to operators while be managed. In addition, the Bartec portfolio includes wireless
mobile and, thus, further sustainably increase the company's equipment for a mobile enterprise strategy, in particular
profitability, Puralube Germany is consistently moving towards ex-protected access points and antennas.

December 2016 70 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
THIOPAQ O&G
stable by nature
The proven gas
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maintenance and repair work, or training, become safer and more
efficient. In the second stage, explosion proof smartphones, or
tablet PCs, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software,
MicrosoftOffice, or visualisation applications in hazardous areas,
are used to improve mobile workflow and communication.
Finally, the third stage allows real time collaboration; for example,
via video conference, the control centre, or external experts can
call in and decide on which action to take quickly and accurately.

Long term objective


As Puralube Germanys long term objective is to be certified
according to the current standard ISO/TS 16949 within three
years, the company thus far has decided to avoid time wastage
through implementing its system. In order to meet the most
Figure 3. The Puralube facility in Saxony-Anhalt, stringent quality requirements of the automotive industry, the
Germany.
comprehensive monitoring of the company's production
processes is essential, and, in preparation for the concerned
Bartec acted as a driving force that informed Puralube about audits, the mobile enterprise solution from Bartec will be in
new potential; however, the desired continuous process operation.
monitoring could not be realised overnight, which is why gradual
introduction is recommended by the project partners in their Conclusion
advisory capacity. With the help of Bartec's enterprise mobility solutions, Puralube
Germany was able to move significantly closer to its goal of full
Three stage implementation process control. Maintenance and service processes were
For the first optimisation wave, the use of helmet cameras that optimised, the monitoring was improved and an effective
capture images and video from hazardous areas in HD quality cooperation was established across the boundaries of hazardous
becomes possible either online via the network or offline via areas. Last but not least, Bartec's complementary cloud services
the local device memory. Typical operations in potentially and the integrated mobile device management provides the
explosive environments, such as routine and ad hoc inspections, necessary cost efficiency for the strategic innovation.

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Tim Hill and Ron Kessler, QuestIntegrity,
USA, examine how the varied inspection
methods of fired heaters can provide the
most comprehensive asset
integrity solution.

T
he reliable operation of fired
heaters is vital to the successful
longterm performance of any
petroleum refinery. Current industry
demands require equipment to operate at peak levels,
pushing assets to run longer and harder than ever before.
As a result of operating under extreme conditions, furnace
tubes are often affected by damage mechanisms, including
creep, corrosion, erosion, pitting and oxidation, which can
significantly limit operational performance. Fortunately, there are a
number of inspection and assessment methodologies that, when
used together, aid operators in developing effective and
comprehensive optimisation plans, allowing facilities to reach their
full asset and operating potential.
This article will illustrate the benefits of utilising a
multidisciplinary approach to fired heater asset management.
Bycombining repeatable and preventative infrared (IR) tube
temperature asset monitoring with ultrasonic smart pig inspection
technologies, remote digital video inspection and advanced

HYDROCARBON 73 December 2016


ENGINEERING
engineering assessments, operators can be confident in their
complete asset condition over the course of an assets
lifetime. The benefit of such a system is reflected both short
and long term, ultimately resulting in cost reduction and
decreased risk of unplanned asset failures.

Preventative health monitoring


The first step of an effective health monitoring programme
defines what is happening inside the process heater while in
operation. IR thermometry has been used for over 30years to
monitor tube metal temperatures in refining and chemical
furnaces. When utilised on fired heaters, IR thermometry is an
exemplary diagnostic tool for detecting tube hot spots from
internal fouling and heat distribution anomalies. The hot spots
detected using this inspection method indicate areas of
Figure 1. Infrared imaging indicating localised hot potential damage including creep, corrosion, short term
spots in horizontal tube. overheating, bulging, ovality, oxidation and more. For example,
elevated tube metal temperatures detected by IR
thermometry from internal fouling can move the fired heater
tube operating conditions into the creep regime, which can
significantly affect the reliability of the heater over time. This
preventative inspection monitoring provides
non-destructive, non-intrusive, non-contact mapping of thermal
patterns on the tubes surface, as well as the other internal
firebox components, allowing for asset optimisation while
in-service. By employing an effective IR monitoring programme,
operators are able to detect early indications of these potential
damage mechanisms, long before a failure occurs.
Once the IR thermometry data has been collected, custom
software is used to automate correction calculations in order
to remove common errors from IR thermometry tube
temperature measurements. This allows the operator to
collect repeatable and accurate tube metal temperature
measurements that indicate where damage may be occurring
Figure 2. Fired heater configuration illustrating within a unit (Figure 1). All infrared measurements, whether
radiant and convection sections. made by an imaging camera or pyrometer, are subject to
measurement factors. The fired heaters environmental
measurement factors are the target tubes emissivity, target
reflectance and the flue gas effect on the measured
temperature. The instrument factors affecting the temperature
measurement are the instrument infrared wavelength,
calibration, size of source effect (SSE), vignetting and the
emissivity setting. Each of these factors must be understood
to achieve an effective infrared inspection programme.
Without this understanding, measurement errors as much as
180F can occur, which also affects the repeatability of the
measurements.
Figure 3. Smart pig navigating return bends. Fortunately, a comprehensive and effective infrared
inspection programme designed for fired heaters (or
reformers) can account for these measurement factors. By
following simple field data collection practices and then
applying rigorous correction calculations, the tubes surface
temperature can be accurately measured. This process will
allow any operator using either IR instrument to collect
repeatable tube temperature measurements. The correction
calculations employ algorithms based on well established
physical principles of blackbody infrared radiation and
Figure 4. Visual data reveals extensive damage within radiation exchange, including a specific geometrical model of
convection section of a fired heater. the subject fired heater and characteristics of the
measurement instruments.

December 2016 74 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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Certain ultrasonic smart pigging tools are highly adaptable
and can inspect heater coils of any length, including those
with unlimited short radius, 1.0D return bends. The latest tool
designs can also negotiate mule-ear or plug headers. These
tools travel and function bi-directionally, allowing the tool to
be launched and received at the same location.
When preventative infrared (IR) thermometry is used in
conjunction with ultrasonic smart pig inspection technologies,
operators receive accurate and verifiable data during two
imperative unit phases when the unit is operating, and when
the unit is taken offline during scheduled maintenance
intervals. For example, in a heater experiencing previously
undetected fouling, IR thermometry conducted during plant
operation can identify the early stages of damage due to
elevated tube metal temperature. During the next scheduled
plant turnaround, an ultrasonic smart pigging inspection then
identifies the extent and type of damage previously detected
during the routine IR thermometry inspection. By utilising a
Figure 5. Ultrasonic inspection data indicating areas combined online and offline inspection programme, operators
of severe wall thinning. maintain a comprehensive understanding of tube condition
during all stages of asset life, essentially eradicating the risk of
unplanned facility outages.
An effective infrared inspection programme is vital to
monitor the integrity of in-service fired heater tubes, as Multi-disciplinary inspection case
well as provide a wealth of quantitative data that may be study
used to further evaluate the performance and integrity of An example of this type of collaborative inspection plan
fired heater components that are susceptible to failure. was seen during a 2015 inspection conducted by
QuestIntegrity. The inspected fired heater asset was next
Ultrasonic smart pig inspection scheduled for routine maintenance and shutdown in 2018.
technology In order to ensure the assets long term reliability, the
After assessing the online factors affecting the performance operator requested that Quest Integrity perform both
and reliability of fired heater assets, the next step is offline IRthermometry and an ultrasonic smart pigging inspection
health monitoring. The most effective offline tube on the fired heater, as well as complete a comprehensive
inspection method is ultrasonic (UT) smart pigging engineering assessment.
technology, which provides inspection coverage of the The data from both inspections and assessment
radiant and convection sections of fired heaters. concluded that no current damage mechanisms were
Section573.9.6 of the API code recognises the use of affecting the heater. It was also determined that the radiant
intelligent [smart] pigs/in-line inspection devices that utilise and convection coils were fit for continued service until
immersion-based ultrasonics to accurately measure inside the next scheduled shutdown in 2018, providing the peak
tube diameter and wall thicknesses. Based on service tube metal temperatures detected during the
providers and tool specifications, several thousand to several IRthermometry inspection were not exceeded. By utilising
million unique diameter and wall thickness readings can be two powerful inspection methods, the operator was able
obtained for an inspection and used in a reliability to confidently determine not only the current condition of
management plan. By conducting a UT smart pig inspection the asset, but also plan for future maintenance intervals
when an asset is offline, the operator is able to quickly assess with a high degree of confidence.
the tubes condition for repair or replacement.
Unlike most non-destructive testing (NDT) inspection Remote visual inspection and
methods, UT smart pigging tools can travel untethered verification of significant damage
through the entirety of the heater, detecting and measuring The damage mechanisms detected by routine infrared and
existing damage mechanisms, including internal or external ultrasonic in-line inspections may be further evaluated
corrosion, erosion and pitting, along with deformation such visually by employing remote digital visual inspection (RDVI).
as bulging, swelling, ovality and fouling in serpentine or arbor RDVI and careful evaluation of surface characteristics may
coils. The use of custom ultrasonic sensor technologies, contribute to a better understanding of cleaning
combined with powerful graphical data displays, results in effectiveness and surface condition, internally and externally.
high resolution, digital and quantitative inspection data and RDVI utilises sophisticated and ruggedised remote
visualisation for the entire piping coil. This efficient and inspection instruments, deployment tools and operational
non-intrusive inspection method allows the unit to return to expertise to deliver clear and concise visual data. In
service quickly, ultimately minimising cost and plant instances where severe fired heater damage is detected by
downtime, while improving heater reliability and IR thermometry and UT inspections, RDVI is an excellent
maintenance schedule accuracy. method to further verify damage mechanisms by safely

December 2016 76 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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deploying high resolution inspection cameras into of the local metal loss rules of API 579-1 Standard may now
inaccessible areas. This minimally invasive inspection be completed. This allows for better defining the operating
technique is particularly effective in areas of damage that risk and expected life of the tube. In many cases, an asset is
cannot be visually inspected or accessed by other NDT able to continue operation for a fixed amount of time
methods. By incorporating a remote visual inspection (RVI) before replacement is necessary.
service into a fired heater optimisation program, operators
are able to attain tangible imaging depicting the effects of Failure assessment
damage mechanisms within a fired heater unit. When a premature asset failure occurs, or severe damage is
The benefit of utilising a multi-disciplinary inspection detected that causes an asset to be permanently retired, a
program that includes the use of RDVI is not only financially high level failure analysis and root cause assessment is used
significant but also allows asset operators to respond to determine the contributing causes to the failure.
proactively to asset health, avoiding untimely failures and Materials engineering and metallurgical laboratory support
unanticipated downtime. can also be used in the assessment to aid in the root cause
determination. By performing failure analyses, asset
Engineering assessment solutions managers are able to identify corrective actions to prevent
Once the various inspections have been conducted, the data the re-occurrence of such damage in the future.
from both the IR thermometry inspection and UT smart
pigging inspection can be assessed in one software platform, Optimisation plan
providing the operator with the highest degree of accuracy After accomplishing inspection and assessment, the
when determining fitness for service (FFS) and remaining life operating risk can be defined. Industry risk assessment
in accordance with the current API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 industry methodologies may be followed to obtain a more detailed
standard. These speciality software tools perform knowledge of how a component is likely to fail, and what
comprehensive calculations of current and future operating shortfalls currently exist that can lead to an unexpected
risk for each inspected furnace tube, and provide data online failure event. An optimisation action plan that is
imaging indicating the varying degrees of change due to the customised to each fired heater, based upon the assessed
damage mechanisms (Figure5). Post inspection assessments operating risks, is prepared. The inspection data and
provide accurate metal loss and creep analysis, as well as engineering assessment results enable the operator to
analysis of dents, gouges and crack-like flaws, ultimately determine where the management shortfalls lie with each
decreasing the risk of failure and helping operators achieve fired heater, and what corrective actions must be taken. A
extended run times. reliability strategy is developed that addresses the major
For assets that require additional assessment and concerns and potential risks identified in the assessment.
analysis, a number of high level post inspection engineering The optimisation plan for each fired heater will include
assessments are available to determine future operability, policy and procedure changes, capital improvements,
acceptable level of risk and aid in tube removal and future inspection and test plans, performance monitoring and
turnaround planning. maintenance plans and tube replacement plans. As the
optimisation plan is executed, the strategy should be
FFS and remaining life assessment updated and plans adjusted as necessary to manage the
FFS assessments are a multi-disciplinary engineering analysis balance between reliability and performance demand.
to determine whether equipment is structurally fit for
continued operation, typically until the next scheduled Conclusion
facility shutdown. In the case of fired heater optimisation, Maintaining sustained performance and asset optimisation
assets may contain flaws, not meet current design can be difficult, especially since ageing assets require
standards, or be subjected to more severe operating frequent and varying maintenance over the course of their
conditions than current design allows. The product of an lifetime. Problematic unplanned repairs or plant shutdowns
FFS assessment is a decision to run as is, alter, repair, can be avoided by employing a preventative and long term
monitor, or replace fired heater components, as well as strategy for asset maintenance and inspection. These
determine an appropriate future inspection interval. For essential maintenance methodologies provide refinery
plant operators, assessing the FFS of operating equipment operators with the necessary knowledge to achieve the
provides confidence in long term turnaround planning, optimum balance between a fired heaters reliability and long
without the risk of premature failure. term performance.
When a damaged mechanism is detected within a fired By combining preventative IR thermometry asset
heater, assessment engineers are able to utilise the data monitoring with ultrasonic smart pig inspection technologies,
collected from an inspection to determine the remaining digital video inspection and advanced engineering
life of the affected asset. The life of fired heater tubes is assessments, operators can be confident in their complete
determined primarily by corrosion and creep damage asset condition. While the individual methodologies outlined
mechanisms. To assess the remaining life of the tubes, the in this article are accurate and effective when used alone,
damage rate from these mechanisms must be accurately they are powerfully conclusive when used together,
measured during the inspection opportunities. Because the providing the preventative measures necessary to ensure
data coverage is so extensive for todays inspection peak reliability and performance optimisation of fired heater
technology, remaining life assessments that take advantage assets throughout their lifetime.

December 2016 78 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Alexander Stotz, Kelvion,
Germany, describes
the efficiency and easy
cleaning characteristics
of fully welded plate
heat exchangers, based
on a reboiler application
in monoethylene glycol
regeneration systems.

I
n the hydrocarbon processing industry, including on n Long service life.
offshore platforms for oil and gas exploration, plate heat n Low maintenance effort.
exchangers (PHE) have become established as a reliable n Good self-cleaning effect.
alternative over the last 30 years. Plate heat exchangers n Easy cleaning.
offer several advantages, primarily: n Easy repair in case of leaks.
n Good heat transfer.
n Correspondingly low resource usage. These factors are essential for trouble free operation of
n Compact dimensions. the heat exchanger, which in turn is a prerequisite for
n Low weight. avoiding shutdown of the entire extraction or preparation
n Low cost. process in many applications. Ideally, the heat exchanger
only needs inspection, maintenance or mechanical cleaning
Other plate heat exchanger features are also crucial for when the entire plant is shut down for an overhaul or
deployment in the oil and gas sector, including: turnaround.

HYDROCARBON 79 December 2016


ENGINEERING
Table 1. Heat transfer coefficient and surface as sulfates (BaSO4, CaSO4, CaSO42H2O, SrSO4), carbonates
margin with and without heat exchanger fouling (CaCO3, FeCO3) and other substances, including salt, sodium,
Non-fouling Fouling iron sulfide and mercury sulfide, are filtered out of the rich
MEG. The water content of the rich MEG must also be
MEG flow 4.0 4.0
rate (m3/hr)
reduced. This is carried out in a specific thermal process. After
regeneration, the glycol has only a small residual water
Hot oil flow 9.5 9.5
content (lean MEG) and can be used again as an inhibitor.
rate (m3/hr)
In MEG regeneration, plate heat exchangers are already
OHTC 246 234 proven technology utilised as condensers after the distillation
(W/m2C)
stage. Currently, shell, tube or spiral heat exchangers are
Surface 26.7 5.1 generally used as reboilers. However, plate heat exchangers
margin (%) also offer advantages for use as reboilers. Their major benefits
compared to shell and tube heat exchangers are a smaller
footprint and much higher shear stress. This higher shear stress
makes plate heat exchangers significantly less susceptible to
deposit formation, thus increasing service life and reliability. As
faultless operation of the reboiler in the regeneration process
is essential for the entire gas production chain (reliable natural
gas transport is not possible without active MEG
regeneration), using plate heat exchangers as reboilers can
enhance the overall availability of exploration and processing.

Testing plate heat exchangers


The suitability of plate heat exchangers for use as reboilers in
MEG regeneration can be illustrated using a Kelvion KBloc as
Figure 1. The side panels of the KBloc heat an example. It is a fully welded plate heat exchanger with the
exchanger are easily removed for cleaning or repairs, plate pack supported by a frame with four columns. The
while all welds and plate gaps are fully accessible for enclosure consists of top and bottom panels and four side
cleaning, maintenance and repair.
panels, which can be unscrewed for maintenance and servicing
(Figure 1). The heat exchanger plates are welded alternately.
With a broad variety of plate materials and gasket materials,
the heat exchanger can be adapted to specific media and even
severe process conditions. That way an elevated corrosion risk,
which is present with, for example, sour hydrocarbons or high
chloride contents, can be dealt with.
The heat exchanger was tested for suitability in a pilot plant,
with the main focus of the study on its fouling characteristics,
susceptibility to deposits and ease of cleaning. The key factors
for the reliability and service life of a reboiler are how quickly
deposits form and how thick they are, how they affect
Figure 2. Heat exchanger plates with double dimple performance, and how easily the heat exchanger can be cleaned
corrugation are well suited to viscous or contaminated under operating conditions. The nature, duration and
media. effectiveness of cleaning are major considerations for
downtime. Particular attention must be given to unplanned
operating conditions because there is a risk of fast and severe
Advantages for monoethylene glycol scaling if a high level of solids reaches the downstream
regeneration regeneration process due to irregular treatment of the glycol. It
Due to their specific features, in particular compact size, plate goes without saying that effective heat transfer is a basic
heat exchangers are also used now in offshore monoethylene requirement for cost effective operation.
glycol regeneration. Monoethylene glycol commonly called
glycol or MEG is used as an inhibitor to prevent hydrate Countercurrent flow for high efficiency
formation during natural gas transport from the bore hole to To promote good heat transfer, the two media (in this case
downstream processing plants. Hydrate formation bears a high thermal oil as a heating medium and MEG) are operated in the
risk of blocking the borehole or pipelines to the processing plate heat exchanger in countercurrent flow. To minimise the
plants, stopping exploration. To reduce MEG consumption and pressure drop, the glycol flows from top to bottom through the
make the process more cost effective, the glycol inhibitor is plate pack. Thanks to good heat transfer, considerably less heat
extracted from the natural gas after transport and regenerated exchanger area is necessary. Another advantage is that the heat
in a multi-stage process. exchanger surfaces form a compact pack, so the plate heat
During regeneration the MEG must be purified to remove exchanger is about 70% lighter than a comparable tube heat
the solids absorbed from the natural gas. Contaminants such exchanger, and has a footprint approximately five times smaller.

December 2016 80 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
The compact and easily accessible construction is also
advantageous for cleaning and maintenance little space is
necessary for removing the panels. After the plates have been
removed, mechanical cleaning (for example, with a high
pressure cleaner or hot water and chemical cleaning agents) is
simple. The small footprint and minimal service space
requirement of plate heat exchangers are very beneficial.

Longer service life


The KBloc heat exchanger plates have corrugations, with a
choice of chevron pattern for maximum energy efficiency or
the double dimple version designed for high viscosity media
or media with particulate contamination. A KBloc with
double dimple corrugation was chosen for the glycol
regeneration test because heavy fouling or deposits are
possible due to the process conditions (Figure 2).
The plate corrugation creates high turbulence in the gap
between the plates, which minimises the tendency for fouling.
With regard to the glycol media (rich glycol), with the same
mass flow rate the plate heat exchanger has a self-cleaning
Figure 3. The KBloc plate heat exchanger in a pilot
effect about three times greater (wall shear stress three times plant for MEG regeneration.
higher) than a shell and tube heat exchanger.

Fouling test results addition of salts, causing scaling of the heat exchanger by the
In the test system implemented with the KBloc, the focus was calcium carbonate present in the solution.
on efficiency, susceptibility to fouling and ease of cleaning. With a pressure of 0.95 bara on the evaporation side, a
The first test in the pilot plant (Figure 3) was run with 90% heat transfer oil inlet temperature of 155C and an oxygen free
glycol by weight. The test was carried out with pure glycol process, the calcium carbonate concentration was constantly
(non-fouling conditions) and with contaminated transport increased over the course of five days. This did not result in
media (fouling conditions). Fouling was induced by the deposits leading to a significant decrease in heat exchanger

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performance or higher pressure drop. Consequently, a second Test under aggravated conditions
stage of the test was initiated in order to create an artificial In the second fouling test, the heat exchanger was constantly
fouling layer on the heat exchanger surfaces. exposed to a water-salt solution (CaCl2 2H2O and Na2CO3) at
low supersaturation ratios, instead of glycol, for four weeks.
The temperature was raised stepwise from 40 - 90C. In the
end, a calcium carbonate scale layer with a thickness of
0.5mm formed on the plates. This scale provided a good
adhesion surface for contaminants entering the system in the
glycol. In operation with glycol (25%), the degree of fouling
rose with increasing wall temperature on the glycol side. In
order to reach the highest wall temperature that would be
achieved in normal operation, the oil volumetric flow rate was
raised to 9.5m/hr and the glycol mass flow rate was lowered
to 4m/hr. Under these conditions, deposits formed in
slightly less than eight hours of operation (Figure 4). These
deposits were subjected to analysis followed by chemical
cleaning (CIP).
The fouling of the heat exchanger plates in the second
Figure 4. In the second test run, scaling was first test phase led to a decrease in the heat transfer coefficient of
induced over a period of four weeks before MEG less than 10%, from 246 W/m2C to 234 W/m2C. At the same
regeneration simulation was started. time, the pressure drop on the glycol side rose from 3mbar to
6 mbar (Table 1).
Subsequent chemical cleaning with an acid, specifically
chosen for the fouling, resulted in a surface virtually free of
residues, allowing restoration of the original design duty.
Visual inspection of individual plates did not reveal any
residual deposits that would impair operation (Figures 5 and 6).

Conclusion
In a pilot plant for MEG regeneration, the suitability of a
KBloc welded plate heat exchanger with double dimple
corrugated plates for use as a reboiler in both onshore and
offshore operation was demonstrated, along with its
remarkable efficiency and resistance to fouling. In the first test
under practical conditions, there was no significant formation
of fouling or deposits. Fouling levels that could be used for
cleaning tests in operation with rich MEG could only be
Figure 5. CIP with a mild acid was sufficient to induced by exposing the reboiler to a saturated salt solution
remove all deposits from the media contacted parts for four weeks. The deposits were easily removed from the
inside the heat exchanger. heat exchanger using CIP cleaning, after which its original
performance was restored. In light of the typical advantages of
welded plate heat exchangers low weight, compact
dimensions, low procurement cost and easy repair the
KBloc is suitable for use both onshore and offshore as a
reboiler in MEG regeneration systems.

References
1. BANI KANANEH, A., STOTZ, A. and DESHMUKH, S., Effect of fouling
and cleaning on the thermal performance of welded plate heat
exchangers in an offshore reboiler application, Proc. International
Conference on Heat Exchanger Fouling and Cleaning 2015, Enfield
(Dublin), Ireland, 7 - 12 June 2015.
2. BANI KANANEH, A. and PESCHEL, J., Fouling in Plate Heat Exchangers:
Some Practical Experience, in Heat Exchangers Basics Design
Applications, ed. MITROVIC, J., InTech, Rijeka, Croatia, 2012,
pp.533-550.
3. HAQUE, M. E., Ethylene Glycol Regeneration Plan: A Systematic
Approach to Troubleshoot the Common Problems, Journal of
Chemical Engineering, IEB, Vol. ChE. 27, No. 1, 2012, pp. 21 - 26.
4. NAZZER, C. A., Advances in Glycol Reclamation Technology, Proc.
Offshore Technology Conference, 2006, Houston, Texas, USA.
Figure 6. After chemical cleaning, all media-wetted 5. NESTA, J. and BENNETT, A. A., Fouling Mitigation by Design, Proc. 6th
surfaces were free from scale and unimpaired Int. Conference on Heat Exchanger Fouling and Cleaning Challenges
operation was again possible. and Opportunities 2005, Kloster Irsee, Germany, 5 - 10 June 2005,
pp.342 - 347.

December 2016 82 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Peter Klotzsche,
MAN Diesel & Turbo,
Germany, discusses the
challenging market conditions
facing refiners and EPC
contractors, and explains how
OEM technology systems can
help improve and streamline
downstream processes.

INDIVIDUAL
STANDARDS
T
he current market for refinery products is are forced to buy crude oil from several sources with
challenging, for both refiners and engineering, differing properties, in terms of heaviness and sourness.
procurement and construction (EPC) contractors. Mixing different crudes in order to achieve the required
Although growth in demand has been stable over quality can create a lot of additional work for operators
the past few years, averaging at 1 or 2% annually, spot using existing plant equipment. Technologies such as
market prices for both crude oil and related products are fracking and mining that extract oil from rocks and sand are
volatile. Due to differing seasonal demand, rising changing the landscape of crude trading streams. Former
competition in an over-saturated market and political importers of oil and gas, such as the US, are becoming
circumstances that disrupt the supply of crude oil, exporters themselves, and are being challenged by the
e.g.,embargoes, war, unrest and natural disasters, refiners specifications and regulations of importing countries.

HYDROCARBON 83 December 2016


ENGINEERING
and particulates. These are subject to increasingly strict
limits worldwide.
In the US, for example, the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) imposed the use of ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD)
with a maximum sulfur content of 15 ppm. Since 2014, all
highway diesel vehicles as well as non-road, locomotive and
marine (NRLM) vehicles and equipment must use ULSD. Similar
sulfur limits are mandatory in Europe, ranging from
10-50ppm. The high expense catalysts used in various refinery
processes, such as catalytic reforming or catalytic cracking, are
sensitive to contaminants as they impair and clog the catalyst,
thus reducing the lifetime, quality and product yields.
Figure 1. The hydrocracking process.
Strong competition amongst EPC
contractors
The majority of oil refineries and processing plants are built
by EPC contractors on the basis of a lump sum turnkey
contract (LSTK), which can expose them to scheduling and
budget risks. Due to low oil prices and decelerating growth in
Asia, the EPCs are faced with strong competition when
bidding for the limited number of projects with a good
chance of realisation. As investors are aiming for the shortest
possible ROI, there is consequent strong pressure to accept
unfavourable conditions in terms of delivery time, costs and
even financing and warranties, while also complying with
specifications and requirements. Additionally, EPC
contractors are focused on risk minimisation measures and
are looking for safe, reliable solutions with attractive Capex
and short engineering and delivery times.
Figure 2. Refinery trains standardisation does not
have to interfere with individual requirements. Hydrotreating and hydrocracking as key
factors
Summing this up, refiners today have to monitor and optimise
their costs and need to be flexible in processing different
crudes with different product outputs, while complying with
environmental constraints. Consequently, major oil companies
emphasise the importance of hydrotreating a refinery
process intended to reduce sulfur, nitrogen and aromatics
while enhancing cetane number, density and smoke point.
Hydrocrackers are a key element to achieving greater refinery
agility that will comply with market fluctuations, while
maximising refinery margins. In these applications, hydrogen
management is essential in order to optimise the processes.
Hydrogen needs to be continuously recycled through the
catalyst to avoid clogging from particles, such as sulfur,
nitrogen and the build up of coke.
Figure 3. As a singlelift unit, the ReTPac serves the
needs of refiners and EPCs.
Altered technology requirements
The aforementioned changes in market and process
Focus on ROI and environmental conditions for refiners also have effects on companies, such
constraints as MAN Diesel & Turbo, that supply refinery equipment. In
The factors described above, and the fact that investors are view of the tough market situation, turbomachinery original
demanding short return on investment (ROI), have forced equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that deliver key
refiners to plan investments for high operational flexibility. components for refineries are being forced to drastically
Another issue facing refiners is the environmental reduce prices, which means cutting costs. The standardisation
constraints imposed by legislation or agreements. and modularisation of components, machines and complete
In addition to implementing measures in energy trains are a viable answer to this challenge. While
management systems, to optimise energy consumption and standardisation is nothing new in the business, the current
the yield of refinery products, there is also a strong focus market situation is placing stronger emphasis on it.
on the contaminants in the fuels, such as sulfur, nitrogen Manufacturing turbomachinery will always be a type of

December 2016 84 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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(200 m3/hr) for the smallest barrel RB28 in its low flow casing,
to 16 500 ft3/min. (28 000 m3/hr) for the RB45 in the high flow
casing configuration. The pressures range from a minimum of
57 psig (4 bara) at suction to a maximum of 3700psig (256 bara)
at discharge. The speed range is 8000-16500 rpm for the
RB28 and 8000 - 12 500 rpm for the RB45.
Four API 612-compliant MAN steam turbine drivers, with
power ratings between 0.5 and 10 MW, were selected to drive
the three different sizes of compressor in line with speed and
power requirements. The absence of a gearbox allows for a
reduction in footprint, Capex and maintenance operations.
These steam turbines can operate between 70and 105% of the
rated speed, ensuring maximum flexibility for the whole system.
The API 671 coupling can be the flexible element disk or
Figure 4. Opex driven maintenance. diaphragm type, and, if so desired, a squirrel cage induction
motor can replace the steam turbine driver.
project-oriented engineering, particularly because refiners The package will be monitored and controlled by a
tend to provide very individual specifications. The challenge SIMATIC S7-400FH that will check for anti-surge, as well as
of standardisation and modularisation, therefore, is to performance and auxiliary controls with a redundant central
comprehensively meet one customers requirements, while processing unit (CPU) and power supply. There is also a Braun
limiting the amount of variations. or Woodward governor for overspeed protection and a
Still, there is widespread belief that standardisation will Bentley Nevada 3500 system for vibration and temperature
result in less high value equipment since standards might monitoring. The size of the ReTPac main skid depends on the
limit customised requirements. However, choosing the right size of the compressor train and may vary in length from
extent of modularisation, while keeping options open for 9-11 m with a weight from 40 - 65 t.
uniquely customised solutions, does not mean it will conflict Thanks to modularisation and scalability these trains are
with objectives. Rather it improves the reliability and upgrade friendly, in terms of power, volume flow and
security of the procurement and manufacturing chain, and, pressure. In addition, pre-designed documents enable final
thus, the final product. drawings to be submitted for site preparation within four
weeks of order placement.
Refinery train packages
In response to the altered needs of refiners and EPC Opex driven maintenance
contractors, MAN Diesel and Turbo has engineered a line of While standardisation of machinery is heading for a fast ROI in
standardised steam turbine-driven compressor packages, terms of reduced Capex, comprehensive maintenance and
named Refinery Train Packages (ReTPac), which focalise on servicing means an emphasis on total product lifecycle costs,
hydrotreating and hydrocracking applications. The modular and therefore optimised Opex. Hydrotreating units are only
configuration of these compressor packages ranges from one albeit a crucial component of modern refineries, but
preengineered train components, including centrifugal they provide a good example here. Turbomachinery Opex
barrel-type compressors, coupling, mechanical drive steam depends not only on a high level of efficiency and consistent
turbine and baseplate, through to system components such integration into and alignment with refinery processes, but
as lube and control oil systems, dry gas seal conditioning also relies on regular maintenance carried out by skilled
systems and unit control panels. The API regulations form personnel. This maintenance can be performed by the
the clear basis for the design. However, pre-engineered companys own personnel trained by the OEM, or by the
options for the modules allow for the adaptation of almost OEMs service personnel itself. For example, MAN Diesel &
every specification for individual customers. This concept Turbos service provider, MAN PrimeServ, offers both options
ensures maximum flexibility when selecting compressor train for ReTPac and other rotating refinery equipment. While
components, without compromising on efficiency and Capex are the first figures to look at, this helps achieve
reliability. minimum Opex as well as maximum added value long term.

Modular packages cover a wide range of Conclusion


requirements After evaluating current trends in the refinery business and for
The quality of the modular packages is secured by an related equipment, ReTPac turbomachinery trains provide a
optimised supply chain (framework agreements with good example of meeting them. The altered requirements of
suppliers), with benefits for the customer in terms of refiners and EPCs led to a stronger modularisation of system
attractive Capex and short delivery times (11 - 12 months) for components and pre-designed solutions, aiming for: a stable
complete, fully tested units. ReTPac packages are available in supply chain, the ability to breeze with engineered options,
three sizes to cover a wide range of applications. optimised efficiency, API compliance, upgrade friendliness and
API617-compliant MAN barrel compressors (RB) are used to the rapid delivery of the product itself and its included
perform process gas recycling, following the size of the documents. With the ReTPac concept, the company has now
refinery process plant. Their capacity ranges from 118 ft3/min. confirmed its 20th train order within three years.

December 2016 86 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
SMART
DESIGN
T
he design of an inlet filter house is vital to protecting
gas turbine machinery and maintaining its performance
to optimise process efficiency and profitability.
Selecting the best solution is dependent on numerous
Stephen Hiner, CLARCOR Industrial Air, considerations, including the installation environment, process
UK, evaluates an effective solution for and operational strategy of a facility. The efficiency rating of a
the prevention of fouling in gas turbines. filter is one selection criteria an operator needs to consider, but
by no means the only one, or the most important.
Weatherhoods are used to manage higher levels of
precipitation, and pulse systems where there are greater
volumes of dust. These are areas that can help manage some
environmental aspects, however the selection of the type of
filter media itself is a vital consideration. It may be simple for
operators to think that by selecting a higher efficiency filter
they are increasing the level of protection of their turbine;
however, the problem is that standard efficiency ratings do not
give the whole picture about how a filter will perform in a real
world environment. Take a high efficiency particulate
arrestance (HEPA) filter as an example its high efficiency
means that it will capture small particles of dust and other
contaminants, but what happens when it gets wet? Will
moisture cause it to block quickly and give rise to sudden
pressure spikes? Is its construction robust enough for some of
the harsh environments where gas turbines are found? Any
damage to the sealing or casing within the filter will mean that
contaminants can bypass the filter media altogether, making
any efficiency rating irrelevant to real world performance.
Alongside efficiency ratings, there are many areas that
operators need to consider to help them make the best
selection for their particular installation.

HYDROCARBON 87 December 2016


ENGINEERING
of salt may dry out relatively quickly, but will leave behind salt
crystals that are small enough to remain suspended in the
atmosphere for prolonged periods of time. Onshore
installations must also consider these effects, as the wind can
carry the airborne salt particles for miles.
Of course, dry salt can be dealt with using traditional
particulate removal filters. As RH rises above 75%, however, it
becomes a liquid, which can pass straight through many similar
filters. As it begins to change from its liquid form with a falling
RH, it takes on a sticky, semi-solid form that is particularly
challenging for filtration systems.
Salt is particularly challenging for gas turbine systems
because of its presence in various phases, but also because of
the severe damage it can cause if allowed to reach the turbine.
Sodium in salt will combine with sulfur in the fuel within the
Figure 1. Environmental conditions can greatly affect hot section of the turbine, which will produce Type I and Type II
gas turbine performance. Sites often have to deal with accelerated corrosion. The chemical reaction between the
multiple challenges all at the same time, including sodium sulfate and turbine metal, at the high temperatures
dust, mist and hydrocarbons. within the turbine, attacks the base metal of the turbine blades
and can cause catastrophic failure. The chloride in the salt is
also a pitting corrosion initiator, which can start off pits
throughout the machine, where accelerated corrosion can then
take hold quickly.

Mist: the wet equivalent of a


sandstorm
The moisture in the air is another threat in itself to the
performance of a filter. As well as carrying contaminants, such
as salt, through to the turbine in liquid form, moisture can also
combine with sand and dust to form mud. As opposed to rain
or snow, moisture in the form of mist has tiny water droplets
that can become trapped in the matrix of the filter media and
cause blockages. Mist can act like a liquid sandstorm formed
of a massive concentration of very fine droplets. As a high
efficiency filter uses fine media to capture small contaminants,
rapid plugging and high pressure losses can occur unless the
Figure 2. Salt is one of the toughest issues facing filter is either designed to handle this phenomena or a
turbine operators, as it can be found in wet and dry
strategy is used to turn the fine drops into larger ones, so they
form, and causes corrosion to turbine blades.
can be handled in a different way. The inherent way some
media types work mean they are more or less prone to this
Environmental challenges to filtration type of blockage. ePTFE filters, for example, use a thin, two
technology dimensional layer of high efficiency media, which is ideal for
The environment a gas turbine is installed in has a huge impact capturing fine dust particles, but makes them prone to
on both how quickly the turbines performance will be affected blockage by moisture droplets. Glass fibre media, on the other
by local contaminants and how effective a filtration system will hand, is around 10 times thicker, which provides a greater
be in protecting it. One of the stickiest issues (quite literally) is filtration surface area that makes it less sensitive to moisture.
salt. If a turbine is situated in an offshore or coastal site, salt Hydrophobic coatings are also sometimes used to stop
needs to be high on the list of considerations. liquids or moisture passing through the filter. Care needs to be
The problem with salt is that it is highly hygroscopic in taken, however, that these will continue to perform as expected
nature, absorbing water from its surrounding environment. throughout the filters lifetime.
Even the relative humidity (RH) at a site can quickly change the Hydrocarbon mists are always present to a greater or
form in which salt is present. If a filtration solution does not lesser extent around gas turbine installations. In addition to
handle this moisture well, the salt may simply pass through causing some filters to block, they can also make dry
the filter media and have a severe effect on downstream particulates sticky, enabling them to adhere more easily to
machinery. In offshore environments, salty aerosols are turbine internals and cause fouling. Performance can be
produced from the mechanical disruption of wave crests restored with regular offline washes, but this adds to
waves churn the surface of the seas causing air to become maintenance overhead and reduces productivity.
trapped in the water. This rises to the surface as bubbles, Hydrocarbons can also be more challenging for some filter
which explode into the atmosphere expelling small sea water media types, so ePTFE, which has a particular affinity for oils,
droplets that form salt aerosols carried by the wind. Aerosols can rapidly become blocked by the hydrocarbon droplets.

December 2016 88 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
VALUE CREATION

INTALOX ULTRA
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The efficiency, capacity, and pressure drop characteristics of INTALOX ULTRA random packing can help
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In a typical gas plant demethanizer (shown below), the increased capacity of INTALOX ULTRA random
packing compared to IMTP random packing allows a smaller diameter vessel at the same height. This is
important because the vessel thickness is a function of the diameter.

For the same application, the increased efficiency of INTALOX ULTRA random packing results in a reduced
vessel height at same diameter compared to IMTP random packing.
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For related trademark information, visit http://www.koch-glitsch.com/trademarks.


This technology is protected by one or more patents in the USA. Other foreign patents may be relevant.
shutdowns due to filter blockages. The actual cost of reduced
production efficiency will, of course, be dependent upon the
value of the process. If a turbine is in a remote location,
maintenance may in itself be very costly and the need to
regularly change filters becomes an ongoing problem.
With multiple environmental and operational considerations,
the selection of the best filtration solution is very much
dependent upon the individual installation. Filter efficiency
ratings are just one factor and may indeed mislead the buyer into
purchasing a system that will do more harm than good. The only
way to truly evaluate a filters performance is to base it on the
performance and output of the turbine it is protecting.
The best protection for machinery, the process and a plants
profitability comes from understanding all the contributing
factors that affect how a filter performs in the real world. When
it comes to the oil and gas industry, in particular, installations are
often in remote and harsh environments and any loss of system
availability can be very costly indeed. The ODSY vCell is
specifically designed with the environmental challenges of salt,
Figure 3. The altair ODSY vCell is designed to moisture, hydrocarbons and high volumes of dust in mind. The
withstand physically harsh environments that many filter has unique hydrophobic properties, which are combined
refineries and other oil and gas applications operate in. with high efficiency performance. It has an extended filtration
surface area that ensures low pressure loss and supports
Considering how a plant operates and extended filter life.
performs
Other areas to consider when selecting the optimum filter Filtration in harsh environments
solution include evaluating the frequency of maintenance and The ODSY vCell is designed to physically withstand harsh
the impact it has on operational efficiency. This includes environments. It is made using fully potted pleated panels to
frequency of offline washes to maintain turbine performance, provide a complete seal and is mounted within a rugged,
how regularly a filter needs to be changed, and selecting a impact resistant acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic
solution that will not produce unexpected and sudden frame that incorporates tough protective grids on the
downstream surface. These contribute to a high burst pressure
rating of 25 in. water gauge (WG) more than adequate for the
severe under-pressure conditions that can be experienced in
gas turbine applications. The ODSY vCell is sealed into its
housing by means of a one piece polyurethane foam gasket to
ensure leak free performance.
Extensive field trials of the ODSY vCell have shown that its
use results in significant improvements in gas turbine output
degradation between compressor washes, leading to increased
eltherm - LNG Tank Bottom Heating System overall generated output and extended periods between
eltherm is a leading manufacturer and global supplier of elec- washing with major financial benefits. Operation in high
trical heat tracing systems. With over 40 years of experience, moisture, high salt coastal sites also show negligible corrosion of
our team of specialists have been providing the industry with turbine blades after 20000fired hours a marked contrast with
heat tracing solutions to meet the most demanding require-
ments. With a continuous drive to provide the highest quality typical experience using conventional filters.
and most flexible and efficient design, we are your competent The ODSY filter offers significant improvements over a
partner for LNG tank bottom heating systems. traditional high velocity system, with wet and dry salt removal
efficiency typically up to 10 000 times greater. They are used in
Turnkey-Solution from engineering to commissioning installations around the world and have been shown to protect
2D and 3D Thermal Analysis turbines, output efficiency and significantly reduce the required
Efficient and reliable control and monitoring systems maintenance frequency of activities, such as offline turbine
Safe and durable systems washes.
High-quality heating cables, components and
accessories from own manufacturing site Conclusion
The eltherm engineers would like to face your challenge also. One filtration solution will never be able to meet the needs of
all installations. Each aspect of a filter house needs to be
eltherm GmbH
Ernst-Heinkel-Str. 6 -10, 57299 Burbach, Germany
assessed against individual conditions, costs and operational
Phone +49 (0) 27 36/44 13-0, E-Mail info@eltherm.com strategy. Having been designed for the oil and gas sector, the
ODSY vCell technology, however, has been proven to give a
good return on investment in many different applications.

www.eltherm.com
RETR FIT
F R
ENERGY
SAVINGS:
part TWO
Satyadileep Dara and Abdallah S. Berrouk, The Petroleum Institute, UAE, continue
their discussion of an amine sweetening unit retrofit with a split flow scheme.

A
process simulation model of split flow larger proportion of the total solvent has high acid gas
configuration retrofitted for the commercial loading, thereby providing lesser driving force for gas
amine sweetening unit is used to analyse the absorption. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the lean
effect of split fraction of the semi-lean amine on solvent from the stripper bottom is extremely lean to
the reboiler duty, condenser duty, total solvent cooling and provide the necessary driving force for absorbing the acid
pumping loads. Throughout the analysis, sweet gas H2S is gases to the given sweet gas H2S levels, which requires high
kept constant by manipulating the reboiler duty. Thus, net steam rates for thorough stripping. It can also be
changes in the energy consumption are compared summarised that, at constant reboiler duty, acid gas
quantitatively for given changes in the split fraction, while absorption is promoted as the split fraction increases until
maintaining constant sweet gas H2S specification. approximately 0.3, but follows a reversing trend thereafter.
Figure 1 represents the trend of the steam rate to the Figure 2 represents the total condenser duty required as
reboiler as a function of the split fraction configuration. As a function of the split fraction. As expected, condenser
the semi-lean amine is only partially stripped, it has a duty qualitatively follows the trend of reboiler duty.
higher residual acid gas loading but, as it comes into Indeed, reboiler and condenser duties achieve their
contact with the incoming sour gas, it can still absorb a respective minima at a split fraction of approximately 0.3.
significant portion of the acid gas in the lower section of As the total amount of pure amine solvent entering the
the absorber. On the other hand, the amine flow rate in the absorber column reduces, the CO2 absorption also reduces,
bottom of the stripper is much lower, and a lower rate of as shown in Figure 3. Sweet gas CO2 increases from 2.7 to
steam can strip the amine sufficiently to achieve the 3% as the split fraction increases to approximately 0.5. Such
desired sweet gas specification. This clearly explains the levels of sweet gas CO2 are acceptable for the commercial
decreasing steam rate with increasing split fraction. amine sweetening unit under study, but it is essential to
However, as the split fraction increases further, the flow verify its effect on the sweet gas heating value to make
rate of the semi-lean solvent increases, which means that a sure the change in sales gas revenue is not significant.

HYDROCARBON 91 December 2016


ENGINEERING
Figure 4 shows the reduced sweet gas heating value by
0.2%, which is negligible. As the solvent rate decreases, the
thickness of the gaseous and liquid phase boundary layer at
the gas-liquid interface increases, leading to higher
resistance of CO2 mass transfer.1
The total solvent cooling duty decreases marginally as
the split fraction increases to 0.5. Such a minor change in the
cooling duty is justified by two factors: the total solvent rate
is the same as that of the conventional unit and an
additional lean-rich heat exchanger is provided on the split
flow line by splitting the rich amine in the same proportions
Figure 1. Steam rate variation, as a function of as that of the lean amine, to conserve the heating/cooling
semilean amine split fraction.
energy. Similarly, the total pumping duty does not have any
major effect on split fraction as the total solvent rate and
net head are constant, as shown in Figure6.

Economic estimate
Overall, the proposed split flow scheme results in a
significant reduction in reboiler and condenser duties, up
to a split fraction of 0.3, and marginally affects the heating
value, cooling and pumping loads while maintaining the
same sweet gas H2S specification. However, it is essential to
evaluate the overall savings in the operating energies
(reboiler duty, condenser duty, cooling and pumping load)
as revenue to identify the optimum split fraction that
achieves the lowest energy consumption of the unit.
Figure 2. Condenser duty variation, as a function of
Quantification of the savings is performed based on the
semi-lean amine split fraction.
costs of steam and electricity produced in the commercial
amine sweetening unit under this study: steam and
electricity costs are US$3.77/t and US$0.03/kWh,
respectively. Net savings in the operating costs are
evaluated using the following expression.
nn Net savings in operating costs = ([savings in steam rate,
t/hr] x [cost of steam, US$/t]) + ([savings in cooling
energy load, MW] x [cost of electricity, US$/MW]) +
([savings in pumping energy load, MW] x [cost of
electricity, US$/MW]).
Figure 5 presents the trend of net annual savings in the
total operating costs as a function of the split fraction.
Clearly, a split fraction of 0.3 provides the optimum
Figure 3. Sweet gas CO2 content and high heating operational scenario for the split flow scheme, with annual
value (HHV), as a function of semi-lean amine split savings of US$320 000.
fraction. Indeed, it can be concluded that until a global
maximum is reached, a split flow scheme retrofitted on an
amine sweetening unit results in increased savings, as a
function of solvent split fraction, and follows an opposite
trend thereafter.
Furthermore, the capital cost of the retrofit is
estimated for analysing the payback potential of the
scheme. Therefore, a process simulation model is
developed for a split flow scheme using Aspen Economic
Evaluation V 8.4 for evaluating the cost of the retrofit
components: liquid-liquid heat exchanger, circulating pump
and air cooler. Figure 6 shows the Aspen Economic
Evaluation model of a split flow scheme with the same
stream and equipment tags as that of the simulation model.
Capital cost data revealed by this model and payback
Figure 4. Total solvent cooling and pumping duties, period analysis are provided in Table 1. Total equipment
as a function of semi-lean amine split fraction. costs for the retrofit scheme are estimated to be
US$527000.

December 2016 92 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
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A Lang factor (defined as the ratio of the total cost of
installing a process in a plant to the cost of its major
technical components) of 4.7 is considered, which
evaluates the total installation cost of the retrofit as
US$2.476million. Thus, economic analysis summarises that
the proposed scheme pays back its capital investment in
7.6 years. It is important to note that this economic study
assumes that the absorber and regenerator are already
provided with ports for solvent inlet and withdrawal,
respectively. In other cases, columns could require major
modifications for implementing this scheme, which may
Figure 5. Net annual savings as a function of make the proposed configuration uneconomical.
semilean amine split flow fraction.
Conclusion
The feasibility of using a split flow scheme to reduce the
duty requirements of a Middle East-based amine
sweetening unit was investigated. The modelling results
indicated that the implementation of the proposed split
flow scheme to the existing design can significantly reduce
the total operating cost of the unit. The proposed method
proved to be a means of enhancing the system efficiency,
Figure 6. Aspen Economic Evaluation model of while complying with the product specifications. It was
splitflow scheme. also concluded that the optimum operational scenario
would be achieved at a split fraction of 0.3. Ultimately, a
detailed economic study was performed to conclude that
Table 1. Summary of economic analysis of the an annual saving of US$330 000 was achievable, and the
retrofit scheme retrofit scheme would pay back in less than eight years.
Heat exchanger (XCHG-100) Therefore, the authors concluded that retrofitting the split
Area, m2 407 flow scheme is highly recommended for any commercial
amine unit having suitable solvent inlet/withdrawal
Cost, US$ 89 000
provisions on the columns.
Air cooler (XCHG-101)
Duty, MW 10 Note
Cost, US$ 180 000 Part one of this article was published in the August 2016
Booster pump (pump 1) issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.
Duty, MW 0.15
Acknowledgement
Cost, US$ 63 000 This study was financially supported by The Petroleum
Circulation pump (pump 2) Institute Gas Research Centre (GRC).
Duty, MW 0.53
Cost, US$ 195 000
References
1. YUEXIA, L., XINHAI, Y., SHAN-TUNG, T., JINYUE, Y. and DAHLQUIST,E.,
Total equipment cost, US$ 527 000 Experimental Investigation on CO2 absorption using absorbent in
hollow fiber membrane contactor, Research report funded by Swedish
Total installation cost, US$ 2.476 million Research Links Programme and the China Natural Science Foundation
(20606011).
Total annual savings, US$ 325 000 2. Aspen Technology, Inc., 'Optimizing Process Manufacturing, (Economic
Evaluation)' https://www.aspentech.com/products/aspen-economic-
Payback period, years 7.6
eval.aspx (26 Nov 2015).

December 2016 94 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING
Ad Index

Page Number | Advertiser


IFC | BASF
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09 | Chart Lifecycle, Inc. 54 | MERTC Conference 2017
IBC | Cryostar 65 | ME-TECH 2017
57 | Devco 77 | MHI Compressor International
35 | Ebara International Corporation 81 | Middle East Sulphur 2017
90 | eltherm GmbH 72 | NACE Corrosion Conference & Expo 2017
17 | Enersul 32 | NISTM
OBC | ExxonMobil 62, 85, 93 | Palladian Publications
61 | Hallwood Modular Buildings 71 | Paqell
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15 | Hydrocarbon Engineering OFC, 49 | Sabin Metal Corporation
15 | Intergraph CADWorx & Analysis Solutions 02 | Sandvik Process Systems
41 | Jonell Filtration Group 94 | Selective Adsorption Associates, Inc.
25 | Kobelco Compressors America, Inc. 53 | Siemens
89 | Koch Glitsch 19 | The Linde Group
31 | Koch Heat Transfer Company 43 | Tyco Fire Protection Products
29 | MAN Diesel & Turbo 75 | Yokogawa

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15 FACTS ON...
CHRISTMAS
Phillips Petroleum Companys The Germans made In the UK the
significant EKOFISK OILFIELD the FIRST ARTIFICIAL demand for
discovery is referred to as Norways CHRISTMAS TREES out electricity on
CHRISTMAS GIFT OF 1969 of dyed goose feathers a winters day
is, on average,
Following the 1973 oil crisis, US state 36% HIGHER
governments requested that citizens than on a
not put up Christmas lights, with summers day
US scientists Oregon banning Christmas as well
calculated that as commercial lighting altogether, to In petroleum
SantaClaus reduce energy consumption and natural gas
would have to visit extraction, a
822 HOMES The Brent crude oil CHRISTMAS TREE
is an assembly
EVERY SECOND price is forecast to
of valves, spools,
to deliver all the worlds average and fittings
presents on Christmas Eve
US$48/bbl used for wells,
A household with an this winter, including oil,
EIA expects gas and
extravagant Christmas US households US$9/bbl higher
injection wells
light display will spend heating primarily than last winter
enough money to heat with natural gas
and power an average to spend US$116 MORE The worlds LARGEST
house for SIX WEEKS, (22%) more this THAN Christmas stocking,
and produce 400 kg
of carbon dioxide
winter compared
with last winter

According to the Centre for Global


160
COUNTRIES
made by the Childrens
Society in London on
14 December 2007, was
OVER 106 FT LONG
Development, the amount of electricity used CELEBRATE
CHRISTMAS AND 49 FT WIDE
for decorative seasonal lights in the USis
MORE THAN THE NATIONAL ELECTRICITY
Commissioned by Sir Henry Cole,
CONSUMPTION OF MANY DEVELOPING
British illustrator John Callcott Horsley
COUNTRIES, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia,
DESIGNED THE FIRST
Tanzania, Nepal or Cambodia
CHRISTMAS CARD IN 1843

The most lights lit simultaneously on a


Christmas tree is 194 672, and was achieved in
Christmas trees usually grow Malmedy, Belgium, on 10 December 2010
for about 15 YEARS before
they are sold

December 2016 96 HYDROCARBON


ENGINEERING