Examples of EPS consultancy activities completed in 2018 (updated 9th December 2018)

Process Safety courses

In January 2018 a Process Safety course has been given by two EPS specialist consultants for a  refinery customer in the EU. There were 25 participants from two refineries. The course content consisted of generic section as well as section adapted for the local rules and regulations. 

In November 2017 and April 2018  Process Safety courses have been given for another customer in the EU. In total there were 25 participants from the company two refinery locations. Again this course was adapted to implement the local rules and regulations and the company RAM matrix. Examples of local plant changes and incident reports were used. At the customer request these two courses were concluded by a formal examination of all participants, and course certificate for those who passed the exam. 

Catalyst performance problems in a Fixed Bed Platformer unit

In 2015 a new Platformer catalyst was loaded in the customer Fixed bed Platformer unit. Its first cycle lasted two years, and the performance was significantly worse as compared to the previous 20-years old catalyst. This was disappointing and not meeting the customer expectations. The explanation for the poor performance by the catalyst manufacturer was overchlorination caused by over-injection and/or by the presence of chlorides in the naphtha feed. EPS was asked for a second opinion, and identified another, more probable cause.

Design of an on-line wash system for a recyclegas compressor of a CCR Platformer

A customer refinery is suffering from severe fouling of the recyclegas compressor in their CCR Platformer unit by ammonium-chloride. Whereas the refinery is addressing the root cause of this fouling, an interim solution was the installation of online wash system of that recyclegas compressor. EPS specialist have designed this system, and identified the optimum installation details requiring the least modifications to existing equipment and piping. 

LP model back casting consultancy program

For an EU refining company operating two refineries, EPS has provided support with the development of a fit-for-purpose LP model back casting consultancy program. The first phase of this consultancy program  was benchmarking of the LP model back casting methodologies currently used in the refining industry. The second phase consisted of the development of a customer specific process, methodology, tools, reporting and implementation plan of the LP model back casting process.

Improvement of Operational Availability of an African refinery

EPS has supported a customer in Africa with the improvement of the Operational Availability of their refinery. Two EPS expert consultants were on-site and identified several common causes of actual and potential non-availability. An improvement plan was developed with the aim to address these causes, covering both hardware and organisational aspects. The focus was on improvements which are easy to implement and provide sustainable performance improvement. 

RCA of a failed superheater of a HGU.

An EPS expert consultant has participated in an on-site Root Cause Analysis on an unexpected failure of a superheater of the HGU for a customer refinery in the Middle East. The root causes were identified and well described together with the recommended corrective actions.

Review of furnace instrumentation and safeguarding systems

EPS has supported a customer with a review of the instrumentation and safeguarding system of some of their furnaces in their Middle East refinery. An EPS expert consultant was on-site for review of their installation and discussions with the refinery staff. Clear guidelines were given on the required improvements to bring their systems up-to-date.

Support with the execution of a QRA

EPS has supported a customer refinery with the execution of a Quantitative Risk Assessment. This QRA was required by the authorities in view of a new development next to the customer  LPG spheres. An EPS expert consultant supported the customer with defining the objective and boundary conditions of the QRA. The QRA itself was carried out by a local certified firm, but EPS supported the customer with the interpretation of the results.

Root Cause Analysis – Visbreaker tube failure

In an EU customer refinery, a tube rupture occurred in a Visbreaker furnace. The refinery staff had carried out a RCA (Root Cause Analysis) but management was of the opinion that the true root cause had not been identified. Two EPS consultants then supported the refinery team, one Visbreaker process specialist and one furnace/combustion specialist. Together this team carried out a RCA and identified the root cause which was accepted by the refinery management team. Corrective actions have been implemented.

Operational Review of residue FCC

EPS has carried out an Operational Review of a FCC unit processing atmospheric residue in a customer refinery in Australia. The EPS consultant was on-site for two weeks, and the operation was critically reviewed and compared with industry best practices. Several significant opportunities for improvement have been identified and will be implemented. Following this review, the EPS consultant will start remote monitoring of this FCC unit in a similar way as done by EPS for the CCR Platformer and HF Alkylation unit in this refinery.

Optimisation of cycle length in a fixed bed Reformer

A fixed bed reformer in an EU customer refinery traditionally made operating cycles in between catalyst regenerations of one year. After catalyst replacement by a modern bi-metallic catalyst there was an opportunity to extend the cycle length from one year to 18 months. But at this extended cycle length the target Reformer intake and product RON should still be achieved. As this Reformer had been debottlenecked, the recyclegas ratio was relatively low and there was a concern whether the operating targets cold be achieved. So the refinery asked EPS to provide close monitoring of the actual rate of catalyst deactivation during the 18 months cycle. EPS carried out three intermediate assessments of the catalyst performance with guidance for the optimum operating conditions for the remaining of the cycle. This went very well, and in September 2018 the cycle ended as planned. The catalyst was then regenerated and a new cycle of 18 month started. 

Hydrocarbon accounting and loss review

EPS supported an EU customer refinery with a hydrocarbon accounting and loss review. With regards to oil accounting, this refinery had two special aspects. The first is the use of rock caverns for storage of crude oil, whereby a clearly defined relationship between oil level in the cavern and oil volume does not exist. The second is the extensive processing of sustainable feedstocks for the production of green diesel, which results in a significant chemical loss. Despite these two challenges the review was carried out successfully, with clearly defined opportunities to reduce the unaccounted losses.

Processing cold naphtha

An EU customer refinery asked support with the possible import of naphtha cargo’s at sub-zero temperature. Such cold naphtha cargo’s are a challenge for the piping and storage tanks from a metallurgy and freezing point of view. To discuss the various aspects of this challenge, a workshop was held with representatives from the refinery and three EPS specialist covering the areas of metallurgy/asset integrity, refinery operations and logistics. EPS suggested an operating procedure whereby cold naphtha can be imported with the existing facilities. i.e. without making hardware modifications, whihc was a positive surprise for the refinery.

Due Diligence support for the purchase of a refinery

An EPS customer was considering the purchase of an existing refinery in Africa, but required urgent support with a Due Diligence of this asset. EPS was asked to provide an expert with broad knowledge of refineries, speaking French and being available at very short notice. EPS responded to this request, and the EPS consultant made an assessment of the state of the refinery, costs and time to restart the refinery and an estimate of the amount of feedstock to be provided by the new owner for a restart. The results were meeting the customer requirements and enabled a proper evaluation of the asset.

Gasturbine support for a Caribbean refinery

An EPS customer refinery is operating a gasturbine for own electricity generation. This gasturbine has required extensive maintenance support from the original manufacturer. EPS was asked to support the refinery with visits to the manufacturer site in Italy for witness testing of a refurbished rotor, visit an alternative supplier for spare parts and on-site support for recommissioning of the gasturbine after an overhaul. An Italian speaking EPS consultant provided this support in an efficient manner to satisfaction of the customer.

Fourth process safe course in 12 months

In November 2018 EPS has provided the fourth Process safety course to a customer refinery within the last 12 months. Two experienced EPS lecturers provided the course at the customer locations for 22 participants. Although there are various companies offering process safety training courses, refineries see the benefit of EPS lecturers who are true and experienced experts in process safety.

Support to an EU lawfirm

An EU lawfirm is supporting an EU refinery with a legal dispute. This lawfirm was looking for an independent refinery expert in the production of gasoline and diesel. EPS responded to this request, and an EPS consultant is now supporting the lawfirm with the preparation of a court trial.

Emergency support for a HF Alkylation unit

A customer refinery in Africa suffered a serious and emergent problem with their HF Alkylation unit. After various upsets the unit had been stopped and restarted a few times within a short period. The refinery management then decided to stop the HF Alkylation unit and form an incident investigation team. It was realised that an external expert was required. An EPS consultant with extensive experience in HF Alkylation visited the refinery for a week. The investigation team revealed the root causes of the problems, and proposed corrective actions allowing a restart of the unit. Some modifications will need to be implemented during the next turnaround.

Audit of inspection department

A few years ago an EU customer refinery had suffered a few asset integrity issues, and responded with a reinforcement of the inspection department. Several new staff were recruited and a new and stronger inspection department was set-up. Then the refinery identified the need to carry out an external audit of the inspection department, their ways of working and their assurance of the refinery equipment integrity. They did not want an API audit whereby a number of boxes are ticked, but an audit by an experienced refinery inspector having experience with leading an inspection department and implementation of improvement programs. An EPS consultant visited the refinery for such audit. The results were very good and well received.

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