Photo courtesy of SARAS SpA, Sarroch Refinery, Italia

Examples of EPS Consultancy services delivered in 2017 (updated 24/11/2017)

Limited scope reactor inspection for a CCR Platformer

In a customer refinery the CCR Platformer unit is due for a planned maintenance shutdown by early 2018. Since the reactors do not need internal inspection for integrity reasons, the refinery considered to apply a methodology whereby the catalyst is not unloaded from the reactors, but the reactors are internally inspected for a number of process aspects under nitrogen atmosphere by an inert entry contractor. A prerequisite for such limited reactor inspection is that the reactors pass a health check, supporting the decision to operate for another 6 years without unloading the catalyst and cleaning reactor internals. In January 2017 EPS participated in a two-day on site workshop to review all these aspects of such limited scope reactor inspection.

Operational review of a Visbreaker unit

In February 2017 EPS has carried out an operational review of a Visbreaker unit of an EU refinery. EPS identified some flaws in the design of the unit which hamper current operation, but also identified substantial opportunities for improvement. In July 2017 a follow-up of this review has been carried out for further investigations of the issues found during the first visit.

CCR Platforming training course

EPS has delivered a training course for refinery engineers involved in the operation, technical support, inspection and maintenance of their CCR Platforming unit. This course has been developed specifically for this refinery, tailoring the slides to reflect the operating conditions and plant configuration of their unit. It also included a lecture describing the main problems of the last 25 years of operation. The course was very well received by 18 refinery staff from technology, operations, engineering and laboratory departments.

Remote monitoring of a CCR Platformer and HF Alkylation unit

EPS provides remote monitoring support to a CCR Platforming and a HF Alkylation unit of a customer refinery. Once per quarter a pre-defined set of operating and laboratory data will be provided, and a remote monitoring report will be made by EPS describing trends and observations.

Scouting study of Amine, SWS, SRU and TGT units for renewable gasoil project

A customer refinery operates two HDS units for the production of gasoil. This refinery wants to co-process an increasing percentage of non-mineral feedstocks (like e.g. palm oil, rapeseed oil) on these units, in order to increase the production of “green gasoil”. EPS was requested to study the impact on the Amine, SWS, SRU and Tail Gas Treating units. Since some of these feedstocks have a low sulphur content, but a high oxygen content, it means that the main task for the amine units is the removal of CO2 rather than H2S. It also implies a very low H2S and very high CO2 content in the feedgas to the SRU. The study involved optimisation of the amine solvent an operating conditions in 6 adsorbers and 1 LPG extractor.

Risk assessment of processing a new crude

A customer has identified CPC crude as a new and attractive new feedstock for their refinery. But in the past the refinery had experienced problems while processing CPC crude, and therefore there was reluctancy to process this crude again. Together with the refinery staff, a team of five EPS consultants carried out a risk assessment of (co)processing CPC crude in the refinery. The risks were classified as main and minor risks, and an action plan was formulated.

Temperature excursion in SRU

A customer refinery suffered from a temperature excursion in the main burner of their Sulphur Recovery Unit, causing an environmental incident. During a site visit the foaming in the amine adsorber located in the recycle gas of the HDS unit was identified as the problem area. The cause of the foaming is probably the presence of BTX in the recycle gas, surfactants in the amine or poor quality of the wash water of the HDS separator. Improved monitoring and wash water quality control, as well as anti-foam dosing were recommended.

Severe corrosion in overhead of CDU

Since 2016 the overhead aircoolers of the CDU in a customer refinery suffered from accelerated fouling and corrosion. Two EPS consultants were on-site to assist the refinery with finding the cause and to propose improvements. It was found that the operation of the desalter was poor, achieving a low removal efficiency of salts from the crude. The content of residual chlorides in the crude feed to the atmospheric column was much higher than normal. Also the CDU overhead neutralisation could be improved.

Crude pre-fractionation column

A customer refinery is planning to install a new crude prefractionation column. EPS has carried out an independent design review of this new pre-fractionation column.

Safeguarding memorandum

EPS has provided support to a customer refinery with the development of a template for a Safeguarding Memorandum. This template will be used for the development of Safeguarding Memorandums of the other refinery units.

Independent gasoline manufacturing expert

A refinery had a legal dispute with the harbor authorities on the import of gasoline and gasoil blending components. According to the harbor authorities the refinery would have to pay an import duty because these blending components were considered by them as additional refinery feedstocks. EPS, as independent company, provided a gasoline manufacturing expert. He demonstrated that imports of alkylate and LCCG are essential for the production of on-spec gasoline in the refinery, and therefore should be classified differently resulting in no import duties to be paid by the refinery. 

Bitumen study

A customer refinery had restarted the production of bitumen. The feedstock for the bitumen production was imported atmospheric residue and from a different origin as used in the past. This resulted in quality problems with the durability specification of the bitumen. EPS carried out an investigation and identified problems in operating conditions of the bitumen plant. The refinery is implementing the recommended improvements.

Review capacity of Aromatics fractionation complex

EPS has carried out a capacity study of the Aromatics fractionation complex of a customer refinery. The design of this unit is unusual as it does not include an aromatics extraction section (such as Sulfinol) but consists of fractionation columns only. For this study a process simulation model was built using the refinery’s ProII application. It was concluded that the current maximum capacity of various existing equipment is prohibiting achieving the target debottlenecking capacity.

Improve refinery crude approval process

One of our customer refineries identified CPC crude as an attractive new feedstock. But in the past this refinery had processed some CPC crude which caused problems, and therefore there was reluctance to process this crude again. An on-site workshop was held with five EPS consultants and refinery staff. Follow-up of several action items was carried out, including an update of the refinery crude acceptance matrix. The recommendation is that the refinery can processes CPC crude provided a number of focused and well defined measures are taken.

Prioritization of HSE recommendations

A customer refinery had accumulated a long list of HSE recommendations, gathered during the various types of safety studies during a period of several years. EPS supported the refinery with the prioritization of this long list of HSE recommendations. Some were closed out because they had already been implemented or were no longer relevant, and some remained on the TO DO list. They were reviewed again, and priorities for implementation were assigned. This updated list will provide the refinery with a clear focus on the process safety activities in the next few years.

Capacity creep Alkylation unit

EPS has supported a customer refinery with increasing the capacity of their Alkylation unit. The concept of capacity creep was applied, whereby the intake is increased in small steps during well-planned field trials. After each step the unit performance is assessed, and, when healthy, another step increase in feed rate is carried out. This approach has been very successful. A capacity increase of +13% has already been achieved, while the target is to increase another 7%.

Remote monitoring CCR Platformer and HF Alkylation unit

EPS is carrying out remote monitoring of a CCR Platformer and a HF Alkylation unit in a customer refinery. This remote monitoring has proven to be an efficient way for early detection of problems and implementation of improvements. The customer is very satisfied with the results, and has decided to continue the remote monitoring support in 2018.  

Operational review of a CDU

EPS has carried out an Operational Review of the 300,000 BPD Crude Distillation Unit in a customer refinery. The current operation was reviewed in detail and compared with the industry best practices and Q1 performance. Various valuable opportunities for improvement have been identified.

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