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HydrocarbonProcessing.com | JANUARY 2014

Increase equipment reliability
with better lubrication
systems and fluids
Rethink design margins in
major equipment specifications
Improve temperature
and viscosity control
for unit operations
Natural Gas
Select 60 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
Cover Image: Qatargas LNG loading at Ras Laffan Industrial City. In Qatar, where Total has had operations since 1936, the company holds equity stakes in the
Al Khalij field, the NFB Block in the North field and the Qatargas 1 liquefaction plant. Total also owns 16.7% of Qatargas 2 Train 5, which started production in 2009.
Photo Courtesy of Total/Thierry Gonzalez.
JANUARY 2014|Volume 93 Number 1
37 Consider new designs for offshore LNG regasification terminals
A. Bulte
45 Choose the best refrigeration technology
for small-scale LNG production
T. Kohler, M. Bruentrup, R. D. Key and T. Edvardsson
55 The ethane addiction: How long will the US advantage last?
J. Wanichko
57 From LNG imports to exports:
Process safety and regulatory challenges
J. Chosnek and V. H. Edwards
61 Update on lubrication systems
H. P. Bloch
65 Control moisture in wetted rotating equipment
M. Barnes and D. Morgan
67 Improve quality of lubricating fluids via filtration
K. G. Kroger
69 Wide design margins do not improve engineering
M. Toghraei
73 Decrease tube metal temperature in vacuum heaters
S. Roy, E. Bright and V. Ramaseshan
77 Optimize viscosity control in refining operations
L. Bellire, P. Burg, D. Chantereau and S. M. Stanton
79 Reliable gauges improve safety and reliability
J. Deane
81 HCN distribution in sour water systems
R. Weiland, N. Hatcher and C. E. Jones
P-87 Human-machine interfaces are the future of petrochemical refining
C. Foster
4 2014 Editorial Calendar
10 News
17 NewsTrevor Kletz Obituary
19 Innovations
93 People
94 Marketplace
97 Advertiser Index
9 Editorial Comment
Chemical-grade operations
or not?
23 Reliability
Was that a failure
or just a repair?
27 Automation Strategies
ISA108 Intelligent Device
Management focuses on
work processes
29 Boxscore Construction
Russian gas: The end
of a monopoly and the
beginning of a new era

Small-scale GTL to transform
gas processing at oil fields

Water Management
Best practices for RO operations
4JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
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*subject to change
Natural Gas
February Clean Fuels
The Green
New vs.
and Reliability
of the Future
Fluid Flow
and Rotating
Cyber Security
and Process
Plant Safety
and Environment
Plant Design,
and Construction
Top Projects
in the HPI
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 20149
Chemical-grade operationor not?
HPI loses a safety pioneer.
In late October 2013, the HPI
lost a giant in the field of process safety.
Dr. Trevor Kletz was small in stature,
but huge in his thinking and philosophy
on process safety and inherently safer
process design and operations. Trevor
was an experienced engineer and an
influential teacher in many nations.
Viewpoint: Small GTL
plants becoming a
reality. Iain Baxter, business developer
director for Compact GTL, shares his
views on specialized small-scale
gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology.
This processing method has made
tremendous gains. Market opportunities
are unfolding for this new approach to
monetize stranded natural gas supplies.
Natural Gas
The natural gas market is dominated
by upstream development in shale gas
production, particularly in North America,
and by midstream and downstream
progress in GTL and liquefied natural
gas (LNG) technologies and projects.
In the US and in natural gas-rich
countries, there is increased interest
in small-scale and mobile processing
technologies, especially for GTL and
LNG production. The January special
report features advances in technologies
and market developments for gas
processing and LNG.
Lubrication Practices.
Rotating equipment
experts investigate new developments
in lubricating systems for pumps.
Several case histories illustrate the
dos and donts for maintaining
rotating equipment under various
plant conditions. New best practices in
lubrication systems are reported.
The quality of transportation fuels has
evolved. Earlier, the fuel quality was based
on octane to power larger engines for
automobiles and cetane for commercial
trucks. As lead was phased out of gasoline,
new compounds, such as oxygenates, were
added to retain the power needed for gaso-
line engines.
More recently, transportation fuels
have undergone more changes to comply
with mandated environmentally based air
regulations. Among the targeted bad ac-
tors in gasoline and diesel is sulfur. Since
the 1990s, governments worldwide have
taken action to specify the composition
of transportation fuels, with particular fo-
cus on sulfur content. Believe it or not, just
20 years ago, gasoline sold in the EU had
a limit of 1,000 ppm (or 1 wt%) of sulfur,
and diesel sold in the EU contained 2,000
ppm of sulfur. Similar quality conditions
on transportation fuels existed in the US.
Much has changed in the last 15 years;
most developed nations have moved to a
much lower sulfur (< 50 ppm) content in
transportation fuels.
With such low sulfur levels in fuels,
the question arises: Are refiners produc-
ing chemical-grade transportation fuels?
What defines chemical-grade products?
In searching several resources, it is actu-
ally the purity level that defines product
grade. As there is no standard for the level
of impurities, technical-grade materials are
99.5% pure, which is a similar benchmark
for pharmaceutical materials.
Curiously, the quality ranges in the pet-
rochemical industry are wider. For exam-
ple, refinery-grade propylene materials are
50% to 70% propylene, with the remainder
as propane. The specifications become
tighter for processing applications requir-
ing chemical-grade propylene; the specifi-
cations tighten tremendously on propane,
to 5% to 10%. The highest purity level is
polymer-grade propylene, which is 99.5%
propylene and only 0.5% or less of propane.
Clean transportation fuels are not
chemical-grade products; they are poly-
mer-grade or pharmaceutical-grade prod-
ucts with regard to sulfur content.
The bright line. How much sulfur is too
much in transportation fuels? Western Eu-
rope, the US and Japan have enacted fuel
quality rules that have a bright line on sul-
fur content in gasoline and diesel. The rest
of the world is catching up. Developing na-
tions, such as China, India and Brazil, are
adopting Euro 3 and Euro 4 standards on
transportation fuels and initiating capital
projects to self-produce higher-quality fuels.
To meet the new standard for vehicle
emissions on carbon monoxide, hydrocar-
bons, nitrogen oxides and particulate mat-
ter for diesel, more advanced fuels will be
necessary. In the US, discussion on Tier
3 continues; this rule requires gasoline to
have a 10-ppm sulfur maximum limit. Since
2009, the EU market has required 10-ppm
sulfur content in gasoline and diesel. At
such levels, the sulfur content is 0.01 wt%.
Today, we casually use the term clean
fuels for transportation and marine fuels.
The thinking about transportation fuels
has changed. In 20 years, the refining in-
dustry has moved from traditional fuels to
exceptionally sophisticated fuels.
The cost to get to much lower sulfur
levels will be substantially higher than the
move from 1 wt% to 500 ppm of sulfur.
The first round of lower-sulfur-content fu-
els required the rationalization of refineries
in the EU and the US. Likewise, China is
shutting down many small teapot refiner-
ies to move forward with lower-sulfur fu-
els. Russia is also evaluating the number of
refineries to revamp for processing high-
quality diesel. This global shift to ultra-low-
sulfur fuels will impact the global merchant
market for transportation fuels. As fewer
nations will be able to accept higher-sulfur
content fuels, the players in the merchant
market will also shrink.
In a brief period, the global refining in-
dustry has progressed from a dirty busi-
ness to the same level of advanced engi-
neering as pharmaceutical companies.

US, Norway seek to improve CO
The US and Norway have announced their commitment to support the
global carbon capture and storage (CCS) test center network. In a joint
release, the two countries affirmed their continued commitment to
enhance the development of technologies that will merge the need for
reliable and cost efficient power production with sustainable deployment
on a large scale to meet the worlds growing demand for energy.
Under the agreement, US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and
Norwegian Minister for Petroleum and Energy Tord Lien will strengthen
cooperation between the test centers for carbon capture. The aim is to
accelerate the development of carbon capture technologies.
The eight founding members of the test center network are: CO

Technology Center Mongstad (Norway), National Carbon Capture Center
(Alabama, US), Southern Co.s CCS demonstration facility (Alabama, US),
J-Power (Japan), Enel Engineering and Research (Italy), E.ON (Germany),
Doosan Power Systems (UK) and SaskPower (Canada). Membership in
the network is open to any large-scale CCS test centers.
The CO
Technology Center in Mongstad, Norway.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201411
Atlantic Basin crude
production to impact
regional supply and
demand balances
PIRA Energy Group reports that the
growth in crude production in the Atlan-
tic Basin will have a profound impact on
regional crude supply and demand bal-
ances. Crude production growth is being
driven by the shale oil revolution in the
US and increased oil sands development
in Canada. The Atlantic Basin is broadly
defined as including the Americas, Eu-
rope, and Africa. According to PIRA,
refinery runs in these countries have de-
clined in recent years after peaking from
2005 to 2007, but they are expected to
slowly resume growth with increases in
the US and Latin America, more than
offsetting declines in Europe. However,
the projected growth in crude produc-
tion is much greater than the increase in
refinery runs. As a result, a sizeable crude
surplus will develop within the region,
and crude will be forced to seek markets
elsewhere, primarily in the rapidly grow-
ing countries in Asia.
These changes are already beginning,
with increasing volumes of African crudes
no longer imported by the US and instead
moving to Asia. Plus, the former Soviet
republics and Latin America are actively
seeking to expand sales to Asia, as are
Canadian producers, which are looking
to build pipelines to the Pacific Coast to
export their crude to Asia.
As the Atlantic Basin moves from
crude-short to increasing length, inter-
regional crude differentials will also shift
to allow greater movement of regional
crude to Asia and discourage imports of
Middle Eastern crude into the Atlantic
Basin. Consequently, crude prices will
be lower in the Atlantic Basin than in
Asia-Pacific for comparable grades. The
Brent-Dubai spread (a key measure of the
relative incentive to supply Asian refiner-
ies from the Atlantic Basin or from the
Middle East) will stay narrower than it
otherwise would have been.
PIRA models the theoretical Brent-
Dubai parity spread using a West African
swing grade, taking into account differ-
ences in refining values, freight costs, sul-
fur premium and market structure. The
historically observed spread was wider
than the theoretical parity spread by
$0.50/bbl on average from 1995 to 2010.
Then, in 2011, the observed spread grew
much wider than parity, mainly because
of the loss of Libyan light sweet crude
production. However, since 2012, the
spread has been narrower than the theo-
retical spread. PIRA believes that this nar-
rowing trend will continue.
Similarly, product prices will generally
be lower in the Atlantic Basin than in Asia-
Pacific. This will allow US refiners to cap-
ture export opportunities, as well as pro-
vide incentives for product exports from
newly built Middle Eastern refineries to
Asia-Pacific rather than the Atlantic Basin.
Future world energy
demand driven by trends
in developing countries
The US Energy Information Admin-
istrations (EIAs) International Energy
Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) projects that
growth in world energy use largely comes
from countries outside of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Develop-
ment (OECD). Energy use patterns for
countries inside the OECD are relatively
stable between 2010 and 2040 as primary
energy use is projected to grow by 0.5% per
year, roughly the same rate as population
growth in those countries. In non-OECD
countries, faster-growing economies and
changing habits in highly concentrated
populations drive significant increases
in energy use. Energy use in non-OECD
countries is projected to grow by 2.2% per
year, and the share of non-OECD energy
use is expected to rise from 54% of total
world energy use in 2010 to 65% in 2040.
Between 2010 and 2040, IEO2013
shows that primary energy use per capita
is expected to change little from its 2010
level of 196 million British thermal units
(MMBtu) in the OECD but grows from
50 MMBtu to 73 MMBtu per capita in
non-OECD countries (FIG. 1). In addi-
tion to already being home to most of
the worlds population in 2010, the non-
OECD countries are also expected to ex-
perience most of the worlds population
growth through 2040. Population growth
is most pronounced in African countries,
but energy use per capita is low across the
continent and is projected to stay almost
constant through 2040. India also ac-
counts for a large portion of world popu-
lation growthadding more than twice
as many people as expected to be added
in the entire group of OECD countries
between 2010 and 2040. Unlike African
countries, Indias energy use per capita is
expected to grow during the period.

2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040
Non-OECD countries
OECD countries
Source: US EIA
FIG. 1. Projected world primary energy consumption.
12JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
In 2040, the total gross domestic
product (GDP), measured in purchas-
ing power parity (PPP), of non-OECD
countries is projected to be much higher
than the GDP of OECD countries, but
the amount of energy used per unit of
GDP is virtually the same (FIG. 2). At
the same time, the ratio of GDP rela-
tive to population remains much higher
in OECD countries. This higher GDP-
to-population ratio allows citizens in
OECD countries to spend more re-
sources on energy-consuming services
that provide productivity, leisure and
comfort, and keeps energy consump-
tion on a per capita basis much higher
in the OECD. As the economies in the
non-OECD countries continue to expe-
rience relatively fast growth, those coun-
tries will also be able to spend more for
energy-consuming services.
US EPA proposes 2014
renewable fuel standards
The US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) has proposed a reduced
quota for the amount of renewable fuel
that refiners must blend next year, yield-
ing to industry arguments that current
legislatively mandated targets were too
high. In a draft rule, the EPA proposed
the 2014 blend levels for cellulosic bio-
fuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced
biofuels and renewable fuels (TABLE 1).
For the first time, EPA has acknowl-
edged that the blend wall is a dangerous
reality that must be addressed to avoid
serious impacts on Americas fuel sup-
ply and would be harmful for American
consumers, said American Petroleum
Institute (API) President and CEO Jack
Gerard. While the agency took a step in
the right direction, more must be done to
ensure Americans have the choice of eth-
anol-free gasoline for boats and small en-
gines, and to bring their mandates closer
to reality on cellulosic biofuels, which do
not exist in commercial quantities. Ulti-
mately, Congress must protect consum-
ers by repealing this outdated and un-
workable program once and for all.
The American Fuel & Petrochemical
Manufacturers (AFPM) also responded
to the EPAs revised numbers by noting
that the agencys recognition of the blend
wall and the potential adverse effects on
consumers is a welcome step; however,
greater reductions in the biofuel mandate
are necessary if consumers are to avoid
all the detrimental impacts of the statute.
Additionally, the EPAs actions can only
be short-term in nature and point to the
need for Congress to work quickly in ad-
dressing the severely flawed and totally
outdated renewable fuel standard (RFS).
The fact that the EPA must issue a
waiverand will need to continue waiv-
ing the ethanol mandate under the RFS
in future yearsis strong evidence that
the program is broken, said AFPM Presi-
dent Charles T. Drevna. While we still
believe that even further reductions are
necessary and warranted, the EPAs pro-
posal acknowledges the adverse consum-
er impacts associated with the RFS. The
basic fact remains that the agencys ac-
tion is little more than triage applied to a
program that requires legislative surgery.
An OPEC history lesson
Organization of the Petroleum Ex-
porting Countries (OPEC) cartel mem-
bers meet twice year. These meetings
generate much fanfare and press cover-
age, as OPEC decisions affect the global
petroleum market. What is often over-
looked in modern media reports is the
history and structure of the organization.
The information that follows should pro-
vide context and perhaps help readers
win a trivia contest.
OPEC was founded in Baghdad, Iraq,
in September 1960 by five countries:
Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Ven-
ezuela. These founding members were
later joined by Qatar (1961), Indonesia
(1962), Libya (1962), the United Arab
Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria
(1971), Ecuador (1973), Gabon (1975)
and Angola (2007).
As with any cartel worth its salt,
OPEC has not avoided inter-organiza-
tion conflict. From December 1992 until
October 2007, Ecuador suspended its
membership. Gabon terminated its mem-
bership in 1995. Meanwhile, Indone-
sia suspended its membership effective
January 2009. That leaves OPEC with 12
member countries in 2014.
German chemical
companies yearn
for US presence
Germany is becoming less attractive as
a hub for chemical activity, with many of
the nations companies targeting the US
for new investment, according to a new
report released by the German chemical
industry trade group VCI.
German companies invested 3.2 B
in new chemical plants or expansions in
the US a year ago, up 54% from the prior
year. The US now accounts for 41% of



2005 2015 2025
Non-OECD average
Non-OECD average
OECD average
OECD average
World average
World average


2005 2015 2025 2035
Source: US EIA
FIG. 2. Delivered energy use per unit GDP (left) and GDP per capita (right) from a global, OECD
and non-OECD perspective.
TABLE 1. Proposed volume and range in 2014 for cellulosic biofuel,
biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuels and renewable fuels
Category Proposed volume* Range
Cellulosic biofuel 17 MM gal 8 MM gal30 MM gal
Biomass-based diesel 1.28 B gal 1.28 B gal
Advanced biofuel 2.2 B gal 2 B gal2.51 B gal
Renewable fuel 15.21 B gal 15 B gal15.52 B gal
*All volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel which is actual
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14JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
the German industrys foreign invest-
ments, up from 28% in 2005.
Overall, the year 2012 marked the first
time since 2001 that foreign investments
from German companies exceeded do-
mestic investments.
Our chemical companies are facing
significant pressure in Germany, because
of the increases in energy costs, said VCI
general manager Utz Tillmann. Abroad,
and particularly in the US, the firms obvi-
ously find better conditions for their pro-
duction, helping them to preserve their
VCI said that Germanys electric-
ity costs are 2.5 times as high as the US,
while natural gas prices are about three
times as high.
If Germany wants to increase its do-
mestic investment, the country needs
to ensure that its plan to exit nuclear
power and build up its renewables sec-
tor remains affordable for producers, Mr.
Tillman said. Otherwise, the develop-
ment could turn into a trend, he warned.
On the whole, foreign investments from
Germanys chemical industry rose 25%
to 7.7 B in 2012, while domestic invest-
ment stagnated at 6.3 B.
Rising product demand
to lift Chinese imports
Petroleum product demand growth in
China will exceed increases in crude oil
throughput in 2014, according to a new
report from ESAI Energy. Chinese im-
ports of oil products are set to rise as a
result. The composition of Chinas prod-
uct demand growth continues to evolve.
Since 2012, diesel demand growth has
fallen, while gasoline has become the
cornerstone of increases in Chinese de-
mand. Refineries met expanding gasoline
consumption by adjusting refinery yields
and their crude slate. This should con-
tinue as gasoline demand rises by some
130,000 bpd next year.
Yet, in 2014, liquefied petroleum gas
(LPG) and naphtha demand will also
increase by a combined 180,000 bpd,
accounting for some 38% of demand
growth vs. just 16% in 2011. Products
such as LPG are more easily sourced
abroad, said Megan Wu of ESAI Energy.
The majority of additional demand will
be met by supplies from export countries
such as those in the Middle East.
Refineries in China are feeling less
pressure than before to increase crude
throughput to meet domestic demand.
Therefore, in 2014, crude oil throughput
will rise just 250,000 bpd to 9.9 million
bpd, while Chinas total oil demand will
grow by 425,000 bpd to 10.6 million bpd.
Rising demand for lubricants, asphalt
and petroleum coke will also result in in-
creased imports.
Dow Chemical carves out
commodity chemicals
for future transactions
Dow Chemical plans to separate a
significant portion of its chlorine value
chain. These assets are being carved out
for future transactions, and represent up
to $5 B of total annual revenue, inclusive
of sales on the merchant market and sales
to support Dows downstream, value-
added products. The scope includes ap-
proximately 40 manufacturing facilities
at 11 sites, and nearly 2,000 employees.
Dows CEO said the decision represents
a continuation of the shift of our com-
pany toward downstream high-margin
products and technologies.
Assets included in this carve-out are:
Dows US Gulf Coast chlor-al-
kali and chlor-vinyl facilities in
Plaquemine, Louisiana, and Free-
port, Texas, including Dows inter-
est in the Dow Mitsui chlor-alkali
joint venture in Freeport, Texas
Dows global chlorinated organics
production facilities in Freeport,
Texas; Plaquemine, Louisiana; and
Stade, Germany
Dows global epoxy business, in-
cluding assets in Freeport, Texas;
Roberta, Georgia; Rheinmuenster,
Germany; Pisticci, Italy; Baltringen,
Germany; Stade, Germany; Gumi,
South Korea; Zhangjiagang, China;
and Guaruja, Brazil
Dows brine and select assets sup-
porting operations in Freeport,
Texas and Plaquemine, Louisi-
ana; and its energy operations in
Plaquemine, Louisiana.
In addition to these separation ac-
tions, the company will also shut down
approximately 800,000 tons of chlorine
and caustic equivalent capacity in Free-
port, Texas. The capacity being shut
down will be replaced with supply from
new facilities that will come online with
the startup of the Dow Mitsui joint ven-
ture in early 2014.
Dow has retained financial advisors
to explore all separation alternatives for
these businesses, including potential
ownership structures and partnerships
such as joint ventures, spin-offs and di-
vestitures, and expects to execute trans-
action activities related to these business-
es within the next 12 to 24 months.
BASF and the Petroleum
Institute cooperate on
gas treatment research
BASF and the Petroleum Institute
(PI) of Abu Dhabi, UAE, intend to de-
velop new processes for removing aggres-
sive sulfur compounds from acid gases
in a research collaboration. Under the
recently signed agreement (FIG. 3), BASF
and PI will focus on methods that show
a favorable energy balance. One example
is the use of membranes, which are be-
ing utilized today to remove hydrogen
sulfide (H
S) and carbon dioxide (CO
from acid gases. Another research target
will be exploring the use of adsorbents to
develop methods with low energy con-
sumption. Adsorbents are usually porous
substances that are insoluble in water.
Their large surface area enables them
to bond with other molecules through
physical forces.
Both BASF and PI complement each
others capabilities in developing efficient
and economical gas treatment processes,
said Dr. Vikas Mittal, an associate profes-
sor at PIs chemical engineering depart-
ment, who manages the development of
membranes for gas separation.
The PI was established in Abu Dhabi
in 2001 with the patronage of the Abu
Dhabi National Oil Co.
FIG. 3. German deputy ambassador to
Abu Dhabi Ralf Schrer joined BASF and
PI executives to celebrate the signing
of a research collaboration agreement.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201417
Granherne, Surrey, UK
Process safety pioneer
passes away
One of the founders and leaders of
process safety in thought and practice,
Professor Trevor Kletz, died on October
31, 2013. He had been ill for some time
with vascular dementia and was living
with his son, Nigel, and his family in Barnt
Green, Birmingham, UK.
Trevor Asher Kletz was born in 1922 in
Darlington, UK, of Jewish parents, from a
Russian immigrant background. His fa-
ther, a shopkeeper, insisted that Trevor
should better himself, and so he attended
The Kings School, Chester and then Liv-
erpool University. When he was 11 years
old, an uncle gave him a chemistry set as
a present, which influenced his decision to
study chemistry. He graduated in 1944 and
joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI),
where he spent eight years in research, 16
in production management and the last 14
as a safety advisor to the petrochemicals di-
vision. In 1978, he was appointed an indus-
trial professor in the chemical engineering
department at Loughborough University.
Upon retiring from ICI in 1982, he joined
the department fulltime; in 1986, he be-
came a visiting fellow and later a visiting
professor at Loughborough and an adjunct
professor at Texas A&M University in Col-
lege Station, Texas.
He was appointed an OBE in 1997 and
was a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engi-
neering, the Institution of Chemical Engi-
neers, the Royal Society of Chemistry and
the American Institute of Chemical Engi-
neers. He was also an honorary fellow of the
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
and the Safety and Reliability Society. He is
one of the most famous chemical engineers
who was not a chemical engineer!
In 1959, Trevor married Denise (who
died in 1980) and they had two boys, Tony
and Nigel, who survive him. He also leaves
behind a magnificent canon of published
work, including 11 books and well over
100 reviewed papers on loss prevention
and process safety, which will serve long
into the future to guide safety professionals
in their work in our industry and beyond.
He finally retired last year at the age of 90.
Up until then, he was still making forth-
right and insightful statements about safe-
ty in the process industries, saying in 2011
that the industrys macho culture was
one of the main causes of recent accidents.
Jill Wilday, of the Health and Safety
Laboratory, who knew him at ICI, said
of Trevor: When I joined ICI in the late
1970s, he was the safety advisor for the
petrochemicals division and his safety
newsletter was circulated throughout ICI
and was as popular as New Scientist among
young engineers.
I have received many communica-
tions extolling Trevors many virtues and
achievements, but it is his generosity that
shines through. Whether it was the help
and encouragement he gave to colleagues
and, in particular younger people, or his
willingness to travel to wherever there
was an audience or a committee meeting,
Trevor was a kind man. In all the time I
worked with him at Loughborough, mon-
ey or any other reward was never men-
tioned. Many people have told me that
Trevor inspired them to work in safety,
including Professor Jai Gupta, director of
the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum
Technology, who said that he was truly a
gentleman and a scholar.
I recommend that you read his books,
and, if you only read one, choose Process
Plants: A Handbook for Inherently Safer
Design, now in its second edition and co-
authored by Professor Paul Amyotte of
Dalhousie University. The inherently safer
approach aims to eliminate or reduce haz-
ards or exposure to them or the chance of
occurrence by design. Most people will
say that it is common sense, and it is, but
it took Trevor to cast this common sense
into a practical philosophy.
This is not the only area where his clear
thinking has changed the way we think and
act. His writings on human error and acci-
dent investigation refocused the emphasis
away from individual lapses to systems
failures and safer design. These concepts
fostered a revolution in modern safety
management thinking. In a video that he
made for the US Chemical Safety Board,
Trevor said, For a long time, people were
saying that most accidents were due to hu-
man error and this is true in a sense but its
not very helpful. Its a bit like saying that
falls are due to gravity.
A theme that runs through Trevors
work is drawing lessons from accidents.
My favorite quote from him is, Theres an
old saying that if you think safety is expen-
sive, try an accident. Accidents cost a lot
of moneyand not only in damage to the
plant and in claims for injury, but also in
the loss of the companys reputation.
Professor Sam Mannan, of the Mary
Kay OConnor Process Safety Center at
Texas A&M University, summed up Trev-
ors life and work well when he said, Some
have characterized Trevor as a scholar,
some have called him an astute practitio-
ner, and some hold him in high regard for
his unique ability to transform complex
issues into simple messages that he com-
municated in his unique way. Above all,
Trevor was a visionary and a trailblazer,
the likes of whom come in our midst only
every few centuries.
DAVID W. EDWARDS is a senior safety consultant for
Granherne. This article was reprinted with permission
from IChemE.
TREVOR KLETZ was a giant in the field of
process safety.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201419
Standardization aids
gas compression
Midstream companies tradition-
ally build a few compressor stations in
a year, with periodic upgrades to imple-
ment new instrumentation technology,
increase compression horsepower or im-
prove control systems. With the boom in
the natural gas industry, however, compa-
nies now need multiple compressor sta-
tions to match increased gas supply.
With growing demand for new com-
pressor stations, it is no longer economi-
cally feasible to provide an individual
design for each new station. Schedules
are shorter, and consistent quality some-
times has been sacrificed due to a lack of
qualified construction crews.
As construction schedules are extend-
ed, and as experienced and qualified con-
tractors become busier, the development
of complete, high-quality compressor
station design packages that are critical
for consistent quality compressor station
installations have become more difficult
to achieve.
As a result of these constraints, stan-
dardization is becoming the new norm
in the midstream industry, and for a good
reason: It adds value. Specifically, it cre-
ates value in three ways:
Capital expense reduction, mainly
due to repeat engineering, volume
contracts with preferred suppliers,
discounts for material, and services
and integration efficiency
Standardization enables project
engineers to use proven designs,
resulting in reduced front-end engi-
neering design effort requirements,
fewer mistakes and increased pro-
ductivity; this, in turn, results in
reduced cycle time, helping accel-
erate cashflow from operations
Value is created through reduced
operating expenses for subsequent
projects, mainly due to increased
startup efficiency, improved up-
time, and commonality of equip-
ment and training (FIG. 1).
Engineers at CDI Corp. have devel-
oped a comprehensive standardization
package for Access Midstream Partners
for natural gas compressor stations in
Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylva-
nia, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The package is designed to minimize the
engineering required for each compressor
facility, shorten construction time, ensure
consistent project quality and safety, re-
duce materials costs and improve inven-
tory processes.
As with any standardization project, a
few key goals were established at the outset:
Quick preparation of construction
bid packages. Process and instru-
mentation drawings, piping stan-
dards, equipment packages, layout
drawings, foundation details, con-
trol panel hookups, automation and
electrical loops, and bill of materials
should be prepared and preapproved,
resulting in a minimum of prepara-
tion time from the initial bid package
to the commissioning of the system.
Timely proposal responses from
qualified construction companies.
Layout and construction schedules


Standardized compressor stations
One-of compressor stations
FIG. 1. Standardization adds value to gas compression operations.
Patent registered for metal-seated ball valve
Extreme operating conditions with temperatures up
to 450C and pressures up to 420 bar require special
sealing technology in ball valves. Standard soft-seated
ball valves are not optimal to meet these requirements;
their plastic seals would fail. Metal-seated ball valves
overcome this problem.
AS-Schneider has entered the metal seated ball
valve arena with its new KM Series. The ball valve fea-
tures zero leakage, even under extreme operating con-
ditions, with respect to working pressure and tempera-
ture, and a smooth operation is provided.
These features are possible due to the Dissolution
ball valve design registered for patent protection. The
design offers an optimized distribution of forces and
loads, so they are only present where absolutely needed.
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20JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
should be reviewed, prechecked and
approved by qualified construction
personnel to take into account the
scope of work, schedule, construc-
tion sequencing and layout.
Consistent construction and in-
stallation quality. Standardized
materials, complete bill of materials,
standardized prepurchase of materi-
als and consistent material stocking
by the client will allow the contrac-
tor to build a station quickly, with a
minimum supply of material.
Optimized site layout. This enables
ease of accessibility for construction,
maintenance and service.
Standardization of components
throughout the midstream sys-
tem. This allows the client to du-
plicate systems, thereby minimizing
spare parts inventory.
Total yearly component counts.
These are provided to optimize
component bid package prepara-
tion inquiries and purchases for
quantity discounts.
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Software enhances
project delivery
Intergraphs expanded Global Profes-
sional Services Consultancy and Delivery
Organization has launched the improved
Global Professional Services Methodol-
ogy (GPSM) to provide consistent and
predictable delivery results for projects
worldwide. By establishing best practices
and processes into a single methodology,
GPSM will provide a structured approach
for standard reporting and enhanced proj-
ect execution on a global basis.
GPSM is scalable based on delivery
complexity, and is also oriented to custom-
er alignment based on schedule and cost
control. There are six phases in GPSM,
with decision gates and clear deliverables
for better project governance. Quality con-
trol is a continuous process throughout
GPSM, ensuring accuracy of project docu-
mentation and high-quality deliverables.
The formal GPSM framework helps
streamline project execution and iden-
tifies potential risks early, reducing the
need for rework and delays. It also pro-
vides tools and capabilities for efficient
project delivery.
Select 2 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
EPA confirms crude
vapor pressure test
A new method for measuring the
true vapor pressure (TVP) of crude oil
is spreading quickly in the oil and gas in-
dustry. At the request of the American Pe-
troleum Institute (API), the US Environ-
mental Protection Agency (EPA) recently
confirmed the use of the ASTM D6377-
10 standard as an alternative test method
for the determination of the TVP of high-
VP crude oils.
As defined by the International Mari-
time Organization, the TVP, or bubble-
point vapor pressure, is the equilibrium
vapor pressure of a mixture when the va-
por/liquid (V/L) ratio is zero. A V/L = 0
can be achieved if a container is filled to
the top with crude oil. This condition is
typical for floating roof tanks, where the
roof is floating directly on the crude oil.
As clear as this definition seems, a
correct interpretation of the TVP term
always depends on the specification for
which it is used. In refining, the term TVP
often is used to reflect the specific condi-
tions of storage or transport. For example,
if a truck or a ship is filled 95% with crude
oil, and only 5% vapor space remains, the
vapor pressure at a V/L = 0.053 may be
referred to as TVP. Within US EPA Title
40 regulations, the term TVP is used for
a TVP estimate calculated from a D323
Reid vapor pressure (RVP) measurement
and the crude oils tank stock temperature.
In a letter dated May 28, 2013 and
published on its website, the EPA ac-
knowledged the broad use of the ASTM
D6377-10 standard for VP measure-
ment of crude oils. It confirmed the use
of D6377 as an alternative method for
TVP measurement of volatile crude oils,
as defined under Title 40 Code of Federal
Regulations, with the understanding that
crude oil samples are delivered pressur-
ized for measurement to prevent the evap-
oration of light ends, and that the TVP is
measured at a V/L = 4.
The ASTM D6377 method is versa-
tile. It allows measurement of the TVP at
various V/L ratios to reflect different tank
filling levels. Sandia National Laboratories
has used this bubble point/TVP extrapo-
lation method successfully. From three
D6377 measurements at different V/L
ratios, the TVP of crude oil at a V/L = 0
is extrapolated. The extrapolation func-
tion assumes that crude oil is composed of
three components: Very light gas compo-
nents (e.g., methane or nitrogen), interme-
diate volatility components (e.g., C
higher) and a non-volatile fraction.
Select 3 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
Partnership to make
synthetic rubber
from biomass
Axens, IFP Energies nouvelles (IF-
PEN) and Michelin have announced the
launch of a plant chemistry research part-
nership to develop and bring to market a
process for producing bio-sourced buta-
diene, or bio-butadiene.
In response to the need to find sustain-
able alternative sourcing channels for elas-
tomers, the BioButterfly process (FIG. 2)
will make it possible to produce more en-
vironmentally friendly synthetic rubber.
In addition to developing an innovative
bio-butadiene production process, the
three partners are committed to laying the
groundwork for a future bio-sourced syn-
thetic rubber industry in France.
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FIG. 2. The BioButterfly process to produce bio-butadiene.
Expanded versions of these items
can be found online at
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We create
that makes natural gas
love solutions.
BASF offers a broad range of technical solutions based on the appropriate
absorbent (solvent), adsorbent, and catalyst. Moreover, BASF supports its
customers in the design and operation of gas treatment plants by providing
process design and engineering support and a range of technical services
such as debottlenecking and process optimization, troubleshooting and
revamps, analytics, and training.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201423
Was that a failure or just a repair?
Purists among reliability professionals are sometimes con-
cerned about the accuracy of the measurement of the mean-
time-between-failure (MTBF) of an asset. There are many ways
to conduct this failure frequency rate assessment. FIG. 1 represents
a multi-site major refining company. This figure demonstrates
that the corporate reliability engineers are making reasonably
accurate affiliate-to-affiliate comparisons. However, some pet-
rochemical and refining companies make a distinction between
repairs and failures. As one engineer wrote, I have a philosophi-
cal question around the classification of repairs vs. failures when
tracking rotating equipment reliability. As I see it, there are basi-
cally two structures or philosophies: asset or component.
In the world of asset philosophy, one views the equipment
train as a singularity, and this is how it is being done here, where
I work. A motor and pump combination is a single asset. We
observe if the asset as a whole continues to perform its in-
tended duty, i.e., pumping product. As long as the asset moves
fluid, the asset has not failed. If a particular component fails and
needs to be replaced, the asset has not failed. For example, a
seal leaks; the action to correct the leaking seal is logged in as
a repair. After all, the asset continues to perform its intended
function. In this view, all seal leaks are considered repairs. Only
if the seal leak causes the asset to shut down (e.g., the seal blows
out), then it is classified as an asset failure.
In the sphere of component philosophy, an asset is seen as a
composite unit consisting of multiple and various components,
i.e., motor shaft, motor bearings, pump shaft, pump bearings,
impeller, wear rings, coupling, throttle bushing, seal, seal pot,
etc., and each has its own failure mode. While it is true that a
particular component may cease to perform its intended func-
tion and not prevent the whole from functioning, i.e., a small
seal leaking does not stop the pump from pumping, the asset
must still be taken offline to repair the defective component.
There will be an asset repair due to a component failure.
I believe the component philosophy is the superior form
of equipment classification as it pertains to rotating equipment
reliability. It gives my plant the ability to classify both asset and
components in their respective statistics or catalogs. Moreover,
it provides the benefit of seeing issues down to the component
level. The component strategy is helpful in identifying what
particular item(s) are causing all the problems.
Picking winning situations. This is an interesting view of
failure; however, it also shows how we can manipulate appar-
ently valid statistics. It is not possible to compare statistics
based on narrow definitions against those based on much
broader definitions. Sensible MTBF statistics aim for simplic-
ity. Therefore, some reliability engineers or professionals see
merit in making comparisons as long as they do not involve the
judgmental ingredient of questioning if and how a particular
component defect could have caused the asset to shut down.
For years, whenever a component was replaced many or-
ganizations have labeled this as a failure event. When first col-
lecting relevant statistics, these companies decided that only
two preventive/predictive action stepsdata taking and/
or performing scheduled oil changeswould escape being
called an equipment failure event. The main aim of the reli-
ability professionals in those organizations was to facilitate
comparisons based on facts, not on assumptions or projec-
tions. These best-practices organizations wanted to steer clear
of speculating if leaving a flawed component in place would
have led to an asset shutdown.
Counting maintenance interventions. A few years ago, a
major oil refinery on the east coast of England emphasized as-
set outage numbers. Individual process units competed with
each other to drive down their respective numbers. They did
so by performing lots of preventive actions, which primar-
ily included frequent oil changes. As a result, the refinerys
overall asset outage frequencies declined and bearing failures
declined. Some process units looked great, but only on paper.
The refinery soon realized that maintenance expenditures in
the good units were higher than in the bad units.
From then on, the refinery made it a practice to count main-
tenance interventions. An oil change is a maintenance inter-
vention. Counting maintenance interventions shifted the goals
from aiming for favorable statistics to optimized operation. This
change in benchmarking shifted more authority and attention
to the facilitys key reliability professional, whose job was to
look at plantwide bottom-line performance and long-term prof-
itability. When the optimized work processes and procedures
0.0 0






2008 2009
Pump repairs per year Pump MTBR
60-month MTBR = 2,567 repairs/yr
2010 2011 Roll 2012
2,901 34.2
FIG. 1. Repair frequency and MTBF tracked by a major corporation
with over 15,000 process pumps.
24JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
to extend intervals between interventions were outlined by the
reliability engineer, the organization finally listened.
The authors former employer treated the task of replacing
a $3 O-ring the same as a $2,150 impeller replacement. Vari-
ous plants or process units may have looked for opportunistic
repair dates, but, years ago, this company resisted making the
repair vs. failure distinction. There would have been concern
that one persons seal blow-out was another persons minor
leak. So, the quest was to consistently use simple statistics for
comparison purposes. As to the original question raised by the
reader, what he called repairs was included in MTBF.
For some unspecified reasons, certain industry segments
keep track of mean-time-between-repairs (MTBRs), as shown
in FIG. 1. While this metric could make ones MTBF look good,
the organization may no longer have the ability to compare itself
to competitors who lump things together in calculating their
MTBFs. Perhaps it does not matter much which calculation
method is selected as long as apples are compared to apples.
Gaming the statistics. Are statistics just a game? Thirty-five
years ago, the affiliate of a multi-national oil company peti-
tioned its corporate head offices that tweaking pump parts was
not really a repair. The decision from upper management was to
count repairs as a work event requiring equipment to be taken
into the shop. Field work did not count as an equipment fail-
ure. Not long after this decision, work was being performed out-
side of the shop as field cases. The parts were literally spread
out on a pallet right outside the shop. That affiliates great low-
failure report to corporate remained unaffected; the machine
had never entered the shop. It took a while before more realistic
heads prevailed. From then on, the managers in charge at cor-
porate headquarters reverted to listing as failures all incidents
where components had been replaced.
Aiming for failure avoidance. Reliability engineers must
make fact-based contributions, which add to the safety, reliabil-
ity, profitability and future viability of the enterprise. At best-of-
class companies, reliability professionals and subject-matter ex-
perts must effectively convey to their managers the exact steps
needed to achieve these goals. In many instances, quantification
and cost justification are performed; applying and having access
to key performance indicators will help. In short, reading, ab-
sorbing relevant training and networking among colleagues are
needed to make meaningful comparisons.
HEINZ P. BLOCH resides in Westminster, Colorado. His
professional career commenced in 1962 and included
long-term assignments as Exxon Chemicals regional
machinery specialist for the US. He has authored over
550 publications, among them 18 comprehensive books
on practical machinery management, failure analysis,
failure avoidance, compressors, steam turbines, pumps,
oil-mist lubrication and practical lubrication for industry.
He holds BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering,
is an ASME Life Fellow, and maintains registration as a
professional engineer in New Jersey and Texas.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201427
ISA108 Intelligent Device Management
focuses on work processes
Over the last decade, field instrumentation and analytical
chemistry device suppliers have made tremendous progress in-
corporating value-added functionality into intelligent devices.
This includes enhanced visualization and health monitoring
functionality to facilitate predictive maintenance (PdM). De-
spite these technological advancements, many companies are
not fully using digital device diagnostics to their best advantage.
Consequently, plant operational efficiency has not improved
significantly, nor have costs, due to device-related accidents.
To address this issue, the International Society of Automa-
tion (ISA) has recently formed a new standard committee,
ISA108, to characterize intelligent device management in the
process industries. The committee will define standard tem-
plates for best practices and work processes based on infor-
mation derived from intelligent field devices, including mod-
els and terminology, implementation guidelines and detailed
work processes.
Plant asset management system landscape. ARC defines
plant asset management (PAM) systems as hardware, software
and services that evaluate plant systems and equipment health
by monitoring the assets condition periodically or in real
time to identify potential problems before they can affect the
process or escalate to a catastrophic failure. Asset monitoring
is one set of applications falling under the asset performance
management (APM) umbrella; it also includes enterprise asset
management (EAM), mobility, reliability, enterprise resource
planning (ERP) systems and other information sources. These
include energy management system (EMS), sustainability, and
environmental, health and safety (EH&S) system.
APM systems provide a compelling case for reducing op-
erational costs while simultaneously improving operational
performance. APM leverages the power embedded in various
operations and maintenance applications to improve asset
availability and utilization within the collective operational
constraints of the enterprise. At present, the emphasis has been
on monitoring production assets. ARC research indicates that
approximately 75% of monitoring investments target produc-
tion assets. Most production assets involve moving parts that
are subject to wear and degradation. Vibration technology is
used extensively to monitor these assets.
The evidence indicates that automation assets are taking
a backseat when it comes to equipment health monitoring.
According to Ian Verhappen, co-chair of ISA108, More than
80% of smart instrument data is not being used or even con-
nected to an online data collection system. ARC believes that
this behavior is counter intuitive given that production asset
monitoring frequently requires additional external equipment,
while most automation assets already contain a high degree
of embedded intelligence. While the level of digital technol-
ogy implemented in field devices is evolving, particularly in
wireless transmitters, operational enhancements will not be
realized if organizations continue to underutilize the available
functionality or apply old work practices.
ISA108 Intelligence Device Management. Formed in
August 2012, the ISA108 committee is charged with defining
standard templates of best practices and work processes for the
design, development, installation and use of diagnostics and
other information provided by intelligent field devices in the
process industries. The belief is that, when intelligent devices
are properly applied and managed, maintenance personnel can
focus on the devices that actually require action when the data
indicate attention is necessary. Devices can provide detailed in-
formation on problems before a trip to the field is made. This
could result in significant reductions or elimination of periodic
testing and provide advanced warning of failures thus minimiz-
ing the effects on operations.
The scope of the committee will include recommended
work processes and implementation practices for systems that
utilize information from intelligent field devices and the peo-
ple who use them. Process templates by worker roles (such as
maintenance or operations) will be one area of research. The
committee will develop best practices for implementation and
models for the flow of information from devices through the
various systems that use this data.
Because no new technology is involved, the primary focus
will be on developing new work processes to match device ca-
pabilities. This will require a cultural change, which can be the
most tasking segment for implementation. The committee will
also target alarm management and rationalization for a risk-
based approach to alarms to alleviate fatigue. Intelligent device
data can make the distinction between operator or mainte-
nance alarms for action by these two groups as required.
PAULA HOLLYWOOD, senior analyst at ARC Advisory
Group, has been covering field instrumentation and
other automation technologies for over 30 years.
At present, she focuses on enabling technologies
and strategies for industrial asset performance
management. Prior to ARC, she held various technical
and marketing positions at The Foxboro Company,
Krohne America and Kentrol, Inc. Ms. Hollywood has a
BS degree from Northeastern University and an MS
degree from the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201429
Boxscore Construction
Russian gas: The end of a monopoly
and the beginning of a new era
December 1, 2013 marked the begin-
ning of a new era for Russian gas exports,
as it saw the repeal of a 2006 law establish-
ing Gazprom as the sole exporter of Rus-
sian gas. Amendments to the gas export
law and foreign trade law allow other com-
paniesprimarily Novatek and Russian
state-owned Rosneftthe ability to sell
liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export.
Gazproms monopoly on gas exports to
Europe via pipeline was not touched.
The amendments are part of Russias
plan to double LNG exports by 2020
and grab crucial LNG market share in
the Asia-Pacific region. Russias overall
goal is to produce at least 40 million tons
per year (MMtpy) of LNG by 2020. This
volume would raise Russias global LNG
market share from 5% to 11% in just six
years. However, Russia is not without
stiff competition.
Australia has invested over $160 billion
(B) on LNG export terminal construction.
Forecasts show Australia overtaking Qatar
(which holds 31% of the global LNG mar-
ket share) as the worlds leading exporter
of LNG within the next decade. However,
spiking labor costs and cost overruns have
threatened Australias position.
Meanwhile, the US is planning the
construction of over 210 MMtpy of
LNG export capacity. Five LNG export
terminals have been approved by the US
Department of Energy, as of the time of
publication. Almost all LNG exports are
targeted for the Asia-Pacific region. Can-
ada is also developing its LNG export
portfolio. Multiple LNG export termi-
nals are planned on Canadas west coast
in British Columbia. In the Eastern Medi-
terranean, Cyprus and Israel will also be-
come LNG exporters.
In Africa, major gas discoveries offshore
Mozambique have the potential to elevate
the country to the worlds third-largest ex-
porter of LNG. Plans are in place to build
one of the largest LNG export terminals in
the world. Exports are destined for Asia
primarily India, China and Japan.
With the changing dynamics of natu-
ral gas exports, Russia must construct
LNG export facilities to compete on a
global scale. Direct competition from the
Middle Eastprimarily Qatar, Australia,
Africa, Canada and the USare all vying
to satisfy Asias growing gas demand. Rus-
sias proximity to Asian markets and large
gas reserves can help the country gain a
foothold on global competition.
Russian gas. Russia holds the worlds
largest natural gas reserves. Equaling al-
most 1,700 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), Rus-
sias reserves account for nearly one-quar-
ter of the worlds proven reserves. The
majority of the gas reserves are located near
the Gulf of Ob in upper western Siberia.
Known as the Nadym-Pur-Taz region, this
area includes some of Russias most pro-
lific production areasthe Medvezhye,
Urengoy and Yamburg fields. Gazprom is
also investing in other regions, such as the
Yamal Peninsula, Eastern Siberia, Sakhalin
and Shtokman.
Russian gas exports head primarily to
the Commonwealth of Independent States
and the EU via pipeline. Gas is also exported
as LNG through Russias only LNG termi-
nal, Sakhalin, which is owned by Gazprom.
These cargos head mainly to customers in
Japan and Korea. Sakhalin contains two
LNG processing trains producing a total of
10 MMtpy of LNG. The addition of a third
5-MMtpy train has been proposed, but a fi-
nal decision has yet to be made.
Russias LNG export industry has
been largely undeveloped, but with the
emergence of global LNG trade, Russia is
keen to capitalize on its LNG export ca-
pacity. Four major LNG terminal projects
have been planned: Vladivostok, Yamal,
Pechora and Sakhalin. These major proj-
ects will help Russia compete for LNG
export market share.
Yamal LNG. The $20 B Yamal LNG
project is one of the largest industrial
ventures to ever take place in the Arctic.
The project consists of the development
of the South Tambey condensate gas field
and the construction of the Yamal LNG
export terminal. The project is being de-
veloped by Novatek (60%), Total (20%)
and China National Petroleum Corp.
(CNPC) (20%).
Novatek sold a 20% stake in the project
to CNPC in September 2013. Per the co-
operation agreement, Yamal LNG will pro-
vide at least 3 MMtpy of LNG to China,
and CNPC will provide active assistance
in attracting external funding for the proj-
ect from Chinese financial institutions.
The 16.5-MMtpy LNG terminal will
consist of three trains, each with a capac-
ity of 5.5 MMtpy. Construction will be
conducted in three phases. Train 1 will be
completed in 2016, Train 2 in 2017 and
Train 3 in 2018. Major contract awards
JGC and Technip: The consor-
tium was awarded the engineering,
procurement, construction (EPC),
supply and commissioning of the in-
tegrated liquefaction facility.
CB&I: Detailed concept design.
This includes concept development
of the LNG plant (i.e., LNG storage
and loading facilities, as well as Arctic
shipping and ice-management solu-
tions, a gas transmission pipeline, a
central production facility for gas and
condensate treatment, and the asso-
ciated well sites and gas gathering
system). The concept development
will address the technical, economic
and execution feasibility of the re-
mote Arctic project and will provide
a project schedule and cost estimate.
CB&I, Chiyoda and Saipem: The
companies will provide front-end
engineering design (FEED). FEED
will lay a basis for the detailed EPC
30JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Boxscore Construction Analysis
phase, along with the project sched-
ule and cost estimates to secure the
final investment decision. CB&I will
also be working with the Russian De-
sign Institute, NIPIgazpererabotka,
to address local design and authority
approval requirements.
BASF: Yamal LNG will utilize
BASFs Oase brand technology for
the removal of carbon dioxide from
natural gas.
GE Oil & Gas: The company will
provide $600 MM in crucial tur-
bomachinery equipment for all
three LNG production trains. This
equipment includes six Frame 7E
gas turbines, 18 centrifugal compres-
sors, six variable-speed drives and six
waste heat-recovery units.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine
Engineering: The company will
construct, launch, equip, complete
and deliver up to 16 ARC7 ice-class
LNG tankers. These vessels will be
used for shipping LNG from the Ya-
mal LNG terminal.
Pechora LNG. The Pechora LNG proj-
ect consists of the development of the
Kumzhinskoy and Korovinskoye fields,
the development of a gas transport in-
frastructure, and the construction of the
Pechora LNG terminal and a gas treat-
ment plant.
The LNG plant will be positioned on
220 hectares of land in a non-freezing part
of the Barents Sea coast, 230 km from the
town of Naryan-Mar. The terminal will
receive natural gas via 395 km of pipeline
from the Kumzhinskoy and Korovinskoye
gas fields. The $4 B first phase of the com-
plex will process 4 B cubic meters (Bcm) of
dry gas per year and produce 2.6 MMtpy
of LNG. The project has the capability to
be expanded to 8 Bcmy if needed. Total
cost could reach $12 B, and completion is
scheduled for 4Q 2018.
The use of a floating liquefied natural
gas (FLNG) vessel has also been consid-
ered for Pechora LNG. The FLNG vessel
would provide production, processing, liq-
uefaction, storage and shipment without
the heavy price tag of an onshore terminal.
Vladivostok LNG. The Vladivostok LNG
terminal (FIG. 1) is part of Gazproms East-
ern Gas Program. Eastern Siberia and the
Far East cover nearly 60% of the Russian
Federation. According to estimates, East-
ern Russia contains 52.4 trillion cubic me-
ters (Tcm) of gas onshore and 14.9 Tcm of
gas offshore. The Eastern Gas Programs
goal is to develop these fields to supply
natural gas domestically and to export
markets in Asia. The Vladivostok LNG ter-
minal is crucial to implementing this plan.
Vladivostok will be located in
Perevoznaya Bay on the Lomonosov Pen-
insula. This strategic location was selected
for its navigable pass that is ice-free during
the entire year. Also, the bay is protected
from northern and western winds, traffic
density is low, no areas are prohibited for
navigation, and the site has close proxim-
ity to gas transportation facilities.
Gazprom will work in cooperation
with the Agency for Natural Resources
and Energy under the Japanese Ministry
of Economy, Trade and Industry. Both
groups conducted a joint feasibility study
that was completed in 2011. WorleyPar-
sons was awarded the FEED contract in
November 2013.
The Vladivostok terminal will receive
gas from Russias Far East fields. This feed-
stock will be transported via pipeline to
the plant. Development of the new fields
and construction of the pipeline are ex-
pected to cost $40 B. The terminal will
contain three trains of 5 MMtpy each; the
first train is expected to come online in
2018. Total capital expenditure was raised
from $8 B to $13.5 B in November 2013.
The new figure reflects the additional cost
of infrastructure, such as a port, gas pipe-
line and power station, and higher costs
for the terminal itself.
Sakhalin LNG. ExxonMobil and Rosneft
have joined to construct a $15 B LNG
export terminal in the Sakhalin region of
Russia. The terminal will have an initial ca-
pacity of 5 MMtpy, but could be expanded
in the future. The plant will receive gas
feedstock from Rosnefts reserves in the
Far East and other Sakhalin gas resources.
The initial FEED contracts were award-
ed to CB&I UK and Foster Wheeler in
September 2013. The initial FEED phase
will finalize details for the LNG plant site,
gas liquefaction technology and construc-
tion process. Rosneft and ExxonMobil
plan to finalize the project design by the
end of 2014, including FEED for the LNG
plant, associated facilities and gas pipeline,
as well as engineering studies and an envi-
ronmental impact assessment.
Completion is scheduled for 2018, the
same year as the planned commission-
ing of Gazproms Vladivostok LNG. This
would put state agencies in direct compe-
tition for market share in China, Japan and
South Korea.
R u s s i a
Kazakhstan Mongolia
Aleutian Islands
Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa
Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
Barents Sea
Laptev Sea
East Siberian
Bering Sea
Sea of
Pacic Ocean
Aral Sea
Black Sea
Novosibirsk Omsk
St Petersburg
FIG. 1. Major LNG terminal project in Russia.
LEE NICHOLS is director
of Gulf Publishing
Companys Data Division.
He has five years of
experience in the
downstream industry and
is responsible for market
research and trends
analysis for the global
downstream construction
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201433
Small-scale GTL to transform gas processing at oil fields
Business Development Director, CompactGTL, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK
IAIN BAXTER is a member of the board at
CompactGTL, and he joined the company
soon after its incorporation in 2006. Before
thi s ti me, he was busi ness di rector wi th
Advantica (formerly British Gas), where he ran
the Upstream Asset Performance business,
including the LNG consultancy, gas processing,
rotating machinery and technology licensing
areas. Mr. Baxter has 25 years of experience
centered on sales and commercial roles in the
process and energy sectors, particularly in the
Far East and Americas. He has led technology
commercialization programs with world-
class companies in Japan and the US, closing
contracts to $100 million in 25 countries.
Clients include BP, Shell, BG, Saudi Aramco, Eni,
Centrica, PDO Oman and Petronas. Mr. Baxter
holds a degree in mechanical engineering from
Loughborough University in Leicestershire,
UK, and has originated six patents and several
articles for trade press. He regularly presents at
international upstream conferences, and often
participates as a GTL expert panelist.
Iain Baxter is the business develop-
ment director for CompactGTL, a UK-
based company that specializes in small-
scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology. A
natural gas and GTL expert, Mr. Baxter
discussed with Hydrocarbon Processing his
outlook for GTL worldwide, particularly
with regard to small-scale liquids produc-
tion from associated gas.
HP. How does a small-scale
GTL unit operate compared with
a large-scale, conventional plant?
IB. Fundamentally, the technology is
predicated on the fact that there are two
types of reactors needed for the GTL
process: syngas [synthesis gas] produc-
tion and Fischer-Tropsch [FT] synthesis.
We have those two types of reactors, and
we have made them about 10% of the size
of the conventional reactors in a world-
scale plant.
These small GTL plant configurations
are standard designs from mass produc-
tion. We have mass production partners in
JapanSumitomo and Kawasaki Heavy
Industries. They have pre-invested in the
manufacturing capability to be able to mass
produce these units in volume, and thats
where we get some economies of scale, as
well as uniformity, in terms of the way in
which were deploying the technology.
HP. In what countries and locations
do you see the most promising
applications for small-scale GTL?
IB. The scope is absolutely global.
Theres a common theme of remoteness
of resources. One incredibly interesting
region is Australia. Activity is also seen in
some Southeast Asian countries, particu-
larly Indonesia, where there have been a
lot of discoveries and activity.
Other key areas are Russia, the CIS
countries, North and West Africa, the US,
Canada and some South American coun-
tries. CompactGTL has projects in all
those territories, at the feasibility and con-
cept development stages. At the beginning
of 2012, Petrobras approval of Compact-
GTLs technology [as commercially dem-
onstrated at Petrobras testing site in Brazil]
was critical, because the upstream and mid-
stream industries are rightly conservative,
and we wouldnt be happy putting projects
forward unless we had demonstrated the
technology at a meaningful scale.
HP. What do you see as a realistic
timeline for growth in popularity
of small-scale GTL?
IB. I think things are going to happen
very fast. In North America, you have a
can-do attitude and a stable environment.
It wont be only GTL; our technology
is compelling and has its perks, but this
technology is going to attract new tech-
nology developments as well. Were abso-
lutely convinced that there will be other
offerings, and that will improve competi-
tiveness, which is good for everybody.
It depends on the logistics and the field
locations. In the oil fields, the oil and gas
companies are really only interested in pro-
ducing oil. We give them the opportunity
to turn the associated gas into synthetic oil.
HP. What are the main factors
contributing to the success
of small-scale GTL technology?
IB. One of the critical factors for Com-
pactGTLs success to date is the fact that,
very early on, we went out into the mar-
ket and looked for manufacturing partners
that have the balance sheets, the reputa-
tion and the resources to put a convincing
consortium together.
Weve found the most worthy, most
capable and most scalable partners with
Fluor, Johnson Matthey, Sumitomo and
Kawasaki. The investment from those
partners in terms of engineering hours,
samples, prototypes, and even manufac-
turing the catalysts and reactors that we
needed for the Brazil demonstration, have
been absolutely critical for our success.
The other critical aspect is the fact that
weve recruited experience in world-scale
34JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
GTL, mainly from South Africa, which
has given us real operational insight, both
from an engineering and operational mod-
el, and from an economic perspective.
Another thing thats been absolutely
critical is the success of the CompactGTL
demonstration plant in Brazil. If it wasnt
for Petrobras making the decision to in-
vest in a $45 million [MM] contract with
us in 2008, clearly it wouldve been very
difficult for us to achieve the level of ma-
turity that we have now. Were in conversa-
tions with nearly all the household names
in the industry. The reason were in those
conversations, and the reason we have
these projects at these levels, is because
of the robustness and the credibility thats
behind the technology.
The market opportunity is absolutely
vast. Theres plenty of room for other
companies to come in to try and develop
alternatives and enhancements, but its a
high-stakes game. This technology is very
difficult to develop, it takes time, and it
takes a lot of money. CompactGTL has
$200 MM invested to date to get us to this
point. Our chairman, Tony Hayward, said
earlier in the year that he believes this is an
absolute game-changer for the industry.
HP. Do you see small-scale GTL
as being more applicable to
onshore or offshore operations?
IB.The offshore market is an incred-
ibly interesting propositionalthough, in
terms of volume, the onshore market is a
vast market opportunity compared with
the offshore. The opportunity for this
technology outside of North America is
very heavily geared toward processing as-
sociated gas and enabling oil field projects
to proceed where flaring restrictions are in
place. Its also applicable to remote loca-
tions with no gas infrastructure, as well as
to places where the costs of installing the
infrastructure are prohibitive.
However, in North America, the eco-
nomic drivers are slightly different. Theres
a surge of new gas discoveries in the shale
plays. With the ongoing gas discoveries
and the new gas supplies coming online,
gas prices are set to be reliably low, while
liquids prices are set to be reliably high,
and this has created a gas monetization
opportunity in North America. Its still
most likely to be associated gas, but the
economics are not necessarily driven by
access to oil, but instead by creating value
out of a very low-value gas commodity.
In the last two years of development,
CompactGTL has been able to bring the
costs of its onshore plant offerings down
quite substantially. Weve been able to in-
crease the scale at which its viable, which
has really lent itself to the North Ameri-
can market. Taking into account the tax
regimes among the different states, weve
got pretty robust project economics that
are looking at internal rates of return in
the 20%-plus [range], based on realistic
gas costs and realistic liquids revenues. So,
North America is a really exciting area for
this technology.
What weve done for larger-scale proj-
ects is to harness conventional technolo-
gy to generate the syngasthe first stage
of the process. If we replace our modular
reforming units with conventional tech-
nology, the size is still such that you can
usually get the equipment into remote
locations, and that drastically reduces the
cost of the offering.
For example, well take a standard re-
former from Lurgi or Haldor Topse, or
another company that offers syngas tech-
nology, and well marry that with our own
modular FT unitsthe second stage of the
process. This gives a good combination of
the ability to move into remote locations
and more reasonable capital costs, and it
economically enables the project to stand
on its own two feet for gas monetization.
HP. What is the maintenance
like on these units?
IB. The biggest factor for GTL plants
in terms of maintenance is the replace-
ment of the main process catalysts. One
of the unique aspects of CompactGTLs
technology is that we have a two-stage
process that allows us to maximize the life
of the cobalt-based catalysts inside the re-
actors. The first step toward mini-
mizing the operational costs and
maintenance is to ensure as long of
a catalyst life as possible, and our
patented technology is directed to-
ward doing that.
Our catalysts will last 35 years
before they need replacement. The
replacement strategy is to exchange
entire modules. So, you bring spare
modules in, because theyre all the same
design, and swap them out to keep the
plant running. Those modules are reac-
tors that require the catalyst to be changed
and then taken away from the site. Theyre
40-foot-long, container-sized boxes, so
weve deliberately constrained the design
to make the logistics and transportation
by truck viable and easy.
The reactors are then returned to a fac-
tory environment, where our partners un-
dertake the catalyst replacement process,
creating a module thats then ready to be re-
deployed either back to the original plant,
or to another project somewhere else.
The overall operational costs for one
of these plants is about US$18 per bar-
rel of liquid product produced, which
includes the lifetime cost of replacing the
catalysts, so [the economics are] pretty
HP. What trends do you see in the
GTL market, as a whole, over the
next 510 years?
IB.The GTL market, in the broader
sense of the word, is the business model
adopted by Shell and Sasol, which are
looking for large, reliable gas supplies.
Usually, [these companies] insist on hav-
ing ownership in the gas asset before in-
vesting in a plant. Peter Voser [CEO of
Shell] recently gave an interview where he
put a new perspective on what Shell and
Sasol see in North America as the oppor-
tunity for GTL.
CompactGTLs technology isnt really
GTL in the true sense of the word; instead,
its dealing with problematic gas and turn-
ing it into oil. Its a different kind of busi-
ness from whats going on in large-scale
GTL. In time, I think this [small-scale]
technology will be bigger than large-scale
GTL; there will be many of these small
plants distributed everywhere.
The market opportunity [for small-scale GTL]
is absolutely vast. Theres plenty of room for other
companies to come in to try and develop alternatives
and enhancements, but its a high-stakes game.
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Special Report
The natural gas market is dominated by upstream development
in shale gas production, particularly in North America, and by
midstream and downstream progress in gas-to-liquids (GTL) and
liquefied natural gas (LNG) technologies and projects. Despite
Shells cancellation of its large-scale GTL project in Louisiana, the
high spread between oil and gas prices over the last few years
has drastically improved overall economics for GTL. In the US and
several other countries, there is increased interest in small-scale
and mobile processing technologies, especially for GTL and LNG
production. Also, the rapid increase in gas production from shale
formations, along with rising prices for natural gas liquids (NGL),
are encouraging the construction of additional gas processing
facilities in the US. This months Special Report features advances in
technologies and market developments for gas processing and LNG.
Photo: Crosstex Energy Services Eunice fractionation plant and processing
facility in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Crosstex.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201437
Special Report
Natural Gas Developments
A. BULTE, Foster Wheeler, Houston, Texas
Consider new designs for offshore LNG
regasification terminals
It is a common belief that the project-
ed growth in gas demandspecifically,
where liquefied natural gas (LNG) im-
ports are needed to meet that demand
will require faster execution of LNG re-
gasification terminals. Here, a new design
for an LNG regasification terminal is pre-
sented that can meet aggressive schedules
and be flexible in terms of site selection.
The proposed solution for LNG re-
gasification includes the following client
Develop a terminal that achieves
commercial operation in 2224
Use floating storage units in lieu of
LNG tanks to accelerate the startup
date. The faster offshore time table
helps avoid a protracted permitting
process, which is often experienced
with onshore terminal projects.
Improve the viability and cost of the
project by locating it offshore. Often,
potential onshore sites are not physi-
cally feasible, or they require large in-
vestments, such as extensive dredg-
ing, to make the sites acceptable.
Ensure low operating costs.
One solution to meet the above ob-
jectives is to build a floating storage and
regasification unit (FSRU). However, FS-
RUs tend to be less economic compared
to traditional onshore regasificaction ter-
minals, due in part to the high vessel leas-
ing costs. An LNG regasification terminal
concept has been developed that features
a more competitive execution schedule
than those offered by major FSRU pro-
viders, along with a significantly lower
capital cost.
Concept development and design.
From a structural point of view, offshore
LNG terminals can be fixed [sea island jet-
ty, jacket, gravity-based structure (GBS)]
or floating [floating wharf (i.e., metal
buoys fastened to anchor chains) and
weathervaning]. The selected support
technology is important, since it has a large
impact on investment and operating costs,
flexibility, safety, availability and reliability,
time for completion and other factors.
Moreover, to select a suitable technol-
ogy, it is necessary to consider several fac-
tors such as location characteristics (cli-
matic conditions, seawater depths, etc.),
storage and sendout requirements, and
environmental issues.
The following options were considered:
Floating storage units (FSUs)
Floating regasification units (FRUs).
FSRU. This solution consists of a ves-
sel that is new or reconverted from a carri-
er, equipped with tanks for LNG storage,
and with all of the required vaporization
process equipment.
The FSRUs main components are:
LNG transfer system (offloading
Storage tanks (in ship)
Boiloff gas (BOG) handling system
LNG pumping system
Vaporization equipment
Delivery facility
Auxiliary systems.
In the FSRU, the LNG delivered by
carriers is received by the FSRU offload-
ing system, stored in tanks, pumped and
regasified into natural gas. The gas is then
delivered to consumers through a flexible
or rigid riser that is connected to the sub-
sea pipeline, or via high-pressure loading
arms fixed on a jetty. Prior to delivery, the
natural gas flowrate is measured by an ul-
trasonic flowmeter, and the gas is odorized.
FIG. 1 describes the principal compo-
nents of an FSRU. The sketch illustrates
three possible means of LNG vaporization:
1. Open-loop seawater: Pumping
warm seawater across the vaporizer
and discharging cooled seawater
Storage LP pumps Recondenser
HP pumps
Seawater discharge
Seawater intake
Open loop
Valves 1, 2 open
Valves 3, 4, 5 close
Hot water
Remaining boilof
Close loop
Hot water: Valves 3, 4 open
Valves 1, 2, 5 close
Vapor: Valves 4, 5 open
Valves 1, 2, 3 close
FIG. 1. Process block scheme of an FSRU.
38JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
2. Closed-loop water: Pumping
freshwater through a closed circuit,
in which the water is warmed
in the FSRU boilers and cooled
across the LNG vaporizer
3. Closed-loop steam: Using steam
produced in the FSRU boilers to
vaporize the LNG and returning
the condensate back to the boilers
in a closed loop.
FSU plus FRU. This project alterna-
tive is based on providing two different
vessels, one to function as an LNG storage
vessel and the other to serve as the regasifi-
cation unit. This solution is best suited for
calm waters. The overall process is similar
to the scheme shown in FIG. 1.
GBS LNG terminal. This solution
consists of a pre-cast caisson structure
developed to receive LNG carriers. The
structure includes internal LNG storage
tanks, and the required regasification
equipment is installed on the caisson su-
perstructure. LNG carriers moor on this
structure, as it is equipped with all re-
quired nautical equipment (quick-release
hooks and a fender system) and unload-
ing/process equipment (unloading arms,
vaporizers, etc.). Quick-release hooks are
devices intended for the safe mooring of
large tankers; they allow for quick release
by the control room.
Experience shows that a GBS is an
expensive solution. Delivery of the struc-
ture, including the storage tanks, can be
protracted, meaning that this solution
cannot meet accelerated schedules.
Alternative solution. An innovative so-
lution combines features of the three con-
cepts outlined previously, and is designed
to be modular and scalable. The solution
consists of a regasification unit that is per-
manently moored to an LNG ship, which
acts as the FSU. A gas pipeline connects to
onshore receiving facilities to supply gas
to the local pipeline grid.
This configuration enables a perma-
nent installation at a competitive price
and on a fast schedule. The availability of
the plant is higher than the regasification
vessel alternatives because there is a lower
impact from adverse sea conditions.
Onshore + TK
Onshore + FSU
Alternative solution
Curve of values for client









$300 M
$180 M
$160 M
$70 M
$541 M
$324 M
$194 M
$173 M
36 m
22 m
18 m-20 m
16 m
FIG. 2. Value curve for the alternative regasification solution.
FIG. 3. Alternative regasification unit module design.
TABLE 1. Cost comparison for various regasication alternatives
Alternative solution Leased FSRU
Onshore regasication
and LNG tank
Onshore regasication
with FSU
Initial CAPEX, million USD 160 (based on caissons) 70 300 180
Total investment, net present value
(10 years), including OPEX
541 (including FSRU
charter rate)
324 194
Optimum schedule up to
mechanical completion, months
16 (based on caissons)
1820 (considering
that FSRU must be built)
36 22
Permitting Quick schedule Quick schedule Long schedule Long schedule
Restrictions of applicable standards Low Low High High
Potential for standardization
High High Low
Medium (depending on
vaporization system)
Note: This comparison is based on a storage capacity of 150,000 m
and a sendout rate of 500 MMscfd.
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40JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
The offshore facility consists of the
following elements:
A conventional LNG carrier modi-
fied and classified to function as an
FSU. The FSU is moored to a plat-
form that also acts as a jetty.
A jetty/platform with facilities for
mooring ships (LNG carriers and
the FSU). Ships are moored on op-
posite sides of the jetty, and LNG
transfer is carried out using the un-
loading arms installed at both sides
of the jetty.
Offshore facilities and regasifica-
tion equipment installed on top of
the platform.
FIG. 2 and TABLE 1 show the added value
of this solution.
Technical description. The regasifi-
cation unit (FIG. 3) will be constructed so
that all of the equipment and modules are
integrated, transported and placed on a
piled concrete platform, or on a concrete
caisson, at the final destination.
A commonly required sendout capac-
ity is 500 million standard cubic feet per
day (MMscfd) of gas, with an additional
50% peak capacity. The alternative design
is based on three trains, each with a send-
out capacity of 275 MMscfd, assembled
together on one module. The system is
configured as three regasification trains
at 33% operation each. The module con-
tains the required pumps, motors, heat
exchangers, instrumentation and control
systems, along with interconnecting pip-
ing between the trains. Target gas outlet
pressure is 33 barg95 barg at the mod-
ules edge. Turndown capability for each
train is 100%120%.
The regasification unit is designed to
handle LNG with a wide range of com-
positions, so it can be used with almost
any available gas in the LNG market, as
shown in TABLE 2. The plant is designed
to comply with International Maritime
Organization (IMO) standards and the
requirements of classification societies,
such as Det Norske Veritas (DNV). The
system is designed and manufactured ac-
cording to DNV guidance for offshore re-
gasification installations.
Prior to shipping, final leak and pres-
sure testing is performed at the module
yard. This testing must comply with DNV
requirements. All components would have
already been tested at the manufacturer fa-
cilities, according to recognized standards
and/or classification society requirements.
The plot plan (FIG. 4) is designed to
Safe escape from working areas
Efficient ventilation
of hazardous areas
Minimal explosion overpressure,
in case of an ignited gas release
Access for firefighting and
emergency response
Prevention of serious consequences
from dropped objects
Facilitation of good operation
and control in normal and
emergency situations
Minimal possibility for escalation of
fires and other failures or accidents
Safe containment of accidental
release of hazardous liquids
Planned simultaneous operation
Easy maintenance access with
maintenance cranes to all plant
Loading arms designed to be
compatible with the motion envelope
of the FSU and the NG carrier
Space minimization to reduce the
cost of the platform.
Structural design. The loading plat-
form (including the mooring and fend-
ering system) and dolphins will serve to
host the shuttle LNG carrier and unload
the cargo via arms to the FSU. The FSU
FIG. 4. Typical plot plan for the alternative regasification solution.
TABLE 2. Range of LNG compositions used in design
Component, mol% LNG heavy LNG light
87 97.53
8.37 2.16
3 0.25
+ nC
1.2 0.04
0.23 0.01
0.2 0.01
Density at 159.8C, kg/m
470 429
Molecular weight 18.72 16.44
Higher heating value, megajoule/standard m
42.87 38.42
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Chairman, Korea Gas Union


42JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
will be permanently moored on the other
side of the platform. Liquid cargo will be
transferred from the FSU to the platform
top regasification unit via LNG loading/
unloading arms.
Over the piles (jackets), steel beams
form the supporting structure for the
platform (FIG. 5). The locations of the
mooring dolphins and fenders take into
consideration ship compatibility assess-
ments carried out to guarantee the com-
patibility between the ship fleet and the
proposed platform.
Construction approach. Due to the
challenges of working offshore, the con-
struction strategy is based on:
Minimizing site work offshore
Minimizing the construction period
Designing for modularization.
The plan is to deliver the modular
plant (one module) as per the scheme
shown in FIG. 6, using a semisubmersible
ship (float-over).
In summary, the construction process
Construction of the steel/
concrete pile
Manufacturing and
precommissioning of the
module at the yard
Load-out of the module on top
of a semisubmersible vessel
(maneuvered via roll-on/roll-off )
Transport of the module from the
yard to an offshore location (FIG. 7)
Unloading on top of the pile
supports (float-off )
Module hookup
Commissioning and startup.
In this option, the dolphins at one side
of the platform are installed after the un-
loading of the module, to permit the ma-
neuver of the ship.
FIG. 5. Jacketed platform sketch.
FIG. 6. Float-over operation.
FIG. 7. Transport and installation at the site (FSU shown for size reference). FIG. 8. Cellular reinforced-concrete caissons.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201443
Natural Gas Developments
Alternative platform construction
method. The compact regasification con-
cept (70 m 50 m) allows for a more stan-
dardized and modular civil infrastructure
approach, which is consistent with a fast-
track schedule. Cellular reinforced-con-
crete caissons, comprising a base slab and
vertical walls, can be used (FIG. 8). The de-
livery period of these components enables
a fast-track schedule to be achieved.
The regasification unit is placed on
the caisson, and they can be transported
together, with the caisson functioning
similarly to a barge. Once the caissons
arrive at the site, they are ballasted down
with granular material to ensure stability
against metocean actions and operation
loads. (This can be done since part of the
caisson is still open.) Later, the deck slab is
cast in situ. One driver to consider this so-
lution vs. the jacketed solution is that the
supporting infrastructures main dimen-
sions (beam and freeboard) are condi-
tioned by operation and survival loads
i.e., equipment, berthed vessels and FSUs,
metocean actions, seabed conditions, wa-
ter depth and seabed depth.
There are cases where a caisson is not
adequate; typically, this occurs as a result
of poor seabed properties that limit bear-
ing capacity, or a water depth greater than
17 m. The supporting infrastructures
main dimensions may also be limited due
to availability of pre-casting yards, or yards
with enough capacity to accommodate the
required beam or depth. However, since
caissons can be towed, yards do not neces-
sarily need to be close to the site area. In
this regard, evaluation of metocean condi-
tions for transportation and availability of
windows are critical aspects. Limitations
due to the size of access channels to the
eventual offshore location may be more
difficult to overcome.
Takeaway. The novel design discussed
here for a fast-track, cost-effective LNG
import terminal possesses the following
Capacity of 500 MMscfd
of natural gas sendout
Proven equipment
Known technology
High availability
Ability to deal with a wide range
of LNG compositions.
This solution includes an FSU that al-
lows for a reduction in execution time,
compared with the construction of onshore
LNG tanks. Civil works, if caissons are
used, are not an issue in terms of schedule.
Caissons can be designed and constructed
in significantly less time than that required
for the equipment delivery. Caissons can
be towed far away from the pre-cast yard,
providing a high level of flexibility in iden-
tifying the best yard location. Process skids
can also be loaded on top of caissons for
transportation. Construction execution is
based on proven methods, similar to any
other offshore upstream facility.
This article is based on a presentation at LNG 17
in Houston, Texas, on April 18, 2013.
AUGUSTO BULTE is based in Foster Wheelers
Houston, Texas office. He holds a masters degree
in marine engineering from Universidad de Oviedo
in Spain, as well as a post-graduate degree in
chemical engineering from Universidad Complutense
de Madrid. Mr. Bulte has more than 17 years of
experience in power and LNG projects.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201445
Special Report
Natural Gas Developments
T. KOHLER and M. BRUENTRUP, Linde Engineering,
Pullach, Germany; and R. D. KEY and T. EDVARDSSON,
Linde Process Plants Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma
Choose the best refrigeration technology
for small-scale LNG production
Low natural gas prices are allowing multiple secondary
players in the US market to consider investments in small-
scale LNG plants. A frequent question is which refrigeration
technology is the best for liquefied natural gas (LNG) produc-
tion. At first glance, there are numerous process alternatives
on the market. However, when taking a closer look, the choice
simplifies to either single mixed-refrigerant (SMR) or nitro-
gen (N
) expander technology. These technologies dominate
the small-scale plant capacity range between 50,000 gallons
per day (gpd) and 500,000 gpd of LNG.
Here, a broad range of aspects and guidelines for which
technology is best suited for what type of application is cov-
ered. Other technologies may be relevant for LNG plants with
capacities below and beyond the range indicated, although the
observations and conclusions presented here apply only to the
aforementioned capacity range.
Refrigeration process design. Two processes
have been se-
lected as representative for the two competing liquefaction tech-
nologies. Both processes are based on brazed aluminum plate-
fin heat exchangers (PFHEs) as the main heat exchangers in the
liquefaction unit. The processes are a single-cycle, multistage
mixed-refrigerant process and a dual N
expander process. TABLE 1
compares the primary components of these processes, while
FIGS. 1 and 2 present process flows for the two technologies.
The high specific power requirements limit single N
pander processes as a widely acceptable option. Other dual-
expander processes have different detail process topology, use
hydrocarbon components mixed with N
as refrigerant, or are
combinations of MR and N
expander technology. The classic
dual N
expander and the SMR technology used in this model
are believed to represent the cornerstones of the modern LNG
technology range.
Refrigeration process performance. The selection of plant
design parameters, such as ambient design temperature, feed
gas pressure and composition, storage tank pressure, flash gas
rate, etc., have a significant ( 20%) impact on the specific pow-
er requirement of an LNG plant. To make a meaningful per-
formance comparison, it is fundamental to use an equal set of
design parametersor, since different processes are optimum
at different conditions, an equal range can be used. For this rea-
son, a range of design parameters has been studied, rather than
a single, arbitrarily chosen point. Also, indication of absolute
performance numbers has been avoided so as not to present
misleading data. Instead, relative differences are provided.
Refrigerant compressor
Warm expander/booster
Cold expander/booster
Main heat
FIG. 1. Process flow diagram of the dual N
expander process.
Main heat
Refrigerant compressor
FIG. 2. Process flow diagram of the SMR process.
46JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
The selection of machinery efficiencies has a significant
impact on this process comparison. Some literature sets these
efficiency values at 100%, assuming an equal basis of com-
parison. However, this will lead to a false conclusion: Theo-
retically, the N
expander cycle would have up to 15% less
power than the SMR. To provide a comparison that matches
reality, typical machinery efficiencies have been selected. N

compressors typically show better efficiencies (82.5%) than
MR compressors (80%), while both processes make use of
an integrally geared turbocompressor as a cycle compressor,
providing optimum compression efficiency. For the expander
turbines, 85% efficiency was selected.
Sensitivity analysis. Design ambient temperature impacts
the process performance, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. While FIG. 3
illustrates that power consumption of any refrigeration pro-
cess increases with rising ambient temperature, FIG. 4 shows
how the N
expander performs relative to the SMR.
On average, the N
expander cycle requires approximately
30% more power than the SMR cycle. This power consump-
tion difference is reduced as the ambient temperature increas-
es. FIGS. 5 and 6 show how design feed gas pressure impacts
the process performance. FIG. 5 demonstrates that power con-
sumption of any refrigeration process is lower with higher feed
gas pressure. FIG. 6 shows how the N
expander cycle performs
relative to the SMR.
On average, the N
expander cycle requires around 30%
more power than the SMR cycle. This power consumption
difference is reduced as the feed gas pressure increases. It can
be concluded that the power disadvantage of the N
cycle is lowest for a plant with low design feed gas pressure
and high design ambient temperature; a nearly 25% power
consumption difference can be reached in this favorable case,
whereas up to a 35% power consumption difference may re-
sult for the other extreme.
Since refrigeration process efficiency is improved by ob-
taining a close match between the feed gas and refrigerant
(Q/T) cooling curves, composition of the feed gas also has
an impact. Analysis of this parameter has been performed and
appears to have only a moderate effect. The N
expander cycle
tends to perform slightly better on lean feed gases. The im-
provement may be up to 5% with reference to the aforemen-
tioned difference.
The background of this observation is that N
works as
a highly efficient refrigerant in cryogenic applications, but
shows poor efficiency at higher temperature levels of the liq-
uefaction process.
Precooling. Since N
shows poor efficiency at high liquefac-
tion temperatures, many N
expander liquefiers include a pre-
cooling unit that provides refrigeration duty at higher tempera-
ture levels. Fundamentally, three options for precooling exist:
Feed gas
Feed gas and refrigerant.
A variety of precooling technologies presents a wide range
of options. Ammonia and propane chilling are still considered
the most common options in the simplest case, within a single-
cycle, single-stage refrigerant process. Adding more stages will
improve efficiency, but it will also increase cost and complexity.
TABLE 1. Main equipment components for the SMR
and N
expander processes
SMR equipment N
expander equipment
1 cycle compressor 1 cycle compressor
1 set of HMR pumps 2 expanders/booster
compressors (mounted
in insulation boxes)
2 air coolers 3 air coolers
3 compressor suction/
receiving drums
1 coldbox 1 coldbox
1 phase-separator vessel
2 storage drums,
including dryers
1 LN
tank with air-heated
1 air-heated vaporizer
1 LN
tank with
air-heated vaporizer
25 30 35 40
Temperature, C
Liquefaction power vs. ambient temperature
@ 40 bar/580 psi liquefaction pressure



45 50 55
FIG. 3. Power vs. ambient design temperature.
30 35 40
Temperature, C







45 50 55
Specic power demand SMR vs. dual N
@ 40 bar/580 psi feed gas pressure vs. ambient temperature
FIG. 4. Specific power demand for SMR vs. dual N
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48JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
Based on exemplary calculations for a simple propane
chiller, there appears to be improvement potential for the N

expander cycle of up to 15% compared to the stated values
for the uncooled cycle. Feed gas precooling is technically
simple, whereas refrigerant precooling is more complex, but
also more rewarding.
In a best-case scenario, the power disadvantage of a pre-
cooled N
expander cycle may be as low as 10% to 15% above
a (non-precooled) SMR cycle.
Additional observations. Aside from power consump-
tion, two other parameters with impact on investment cost
are significantly different for the two refrigeration processes.
Whereas the SMR cycle uses a two-phase refrigerant, the N

refrigerant in the N
expander cycle is always in the gas phase.
It is not surprising that volumetric flows (and, therefore, pipe
diameters) are larger in the N
expander cycle than in the
SMR cycle at any given duty. Also, refrigerant pressures (and,
therefore, pipe schedules) typically need to be significantly
higher to get to reasonable pipe diameter and process efficien-
cies. In reference to the given example:
The suction line diameter of the refrigerant compressor
is 20 inches (in.) for the SMR cycle and 24 in. for the N

expander cycle
The high-pressure refrigerant operates at approximately 40
bar (600 psi) for the SMR cycle and 70 bar (1,000 psi) for
the N
expander cycle, resulting in Class 300 piping for the
SMR cycle and Class 600 piping for the N
expander cycle.
Technical and operational pros and cons. A number of
additional aspects should be considered when comparing both
technologies, as a thorough response requires more technical
background information.
Refrigerant use and makeup system. Both the SMR and
expander refrigeration cycles operate in closed loops; i.e.,
they do not consume refrigerant during operation. Typically,
the compressors and seal systems used in these refrigeration
cycles are not completely leak-tight, and, therefore, leakage
must be replaced by makeup. A makeup system is required in
every case. For the N
expander cycle, this system may consist
of a liquid nitrogen (LN
) tank with an evaporator as the sim-
plest solution. Additionally, for the SMR cycle, makeup stor-
age of the hydrocarbon components C
to C
is also required.
Note: C
makeup is sourced from the feed gas.
Refrigerant makeup rates are typically much higher for N

expander plants. This higher makeup rate is due to design dif-
ferences between the SMR cycle and the N
expander cycle
compressor seals:
compressors and expanders/boosters are tradition-
ally a product of the air separation industry, where leakage
losses are considered an efficiency loss. Therefore, inex-
pensive labyrinth seals are a standard solution. Labyrinth
seals offer leakage rates of around 3% to 6% of the flow.
Alternatively, carbon ring seals offer a reduced leakage
rate (around 0.2% of flow) at a slightly higher cost and are,
therefore, typically used for N
refrigerant compressors.
SMR compressors are products of the oil and gas process-
ing industry, where hydrocarbon leakage is considered a
hazard and must be minimized. Dry gas seals (DGSs) are
the standard design, offering minimal leakage rates (only
1% to 10% of the leakage rate of wet gas seals). They are
mostly independent from the compressor throughput.
However, dry gas seals feature significantly higher com-
plexity and come at a much higher cost (approximately
$250 thousand USD), which is why DGSs are not com-
monly used for N
Note: Hermetically sealed compressors, exhibiting zero re-
frigerant loss, have also been reviewed to complete the picture.
In the analyzed capacity range and at the assumed cost of make-
up components, they do not seem to be an economical escape
route, either for the mixed refrigerant or the N
compressor. Al-
ternately, hermetically sealed expanders/boosters appear more
attractive, despite only contributing a minor part of the total
leakage rate in an N
expander cycle.
Although refrigerant leakages from the cycle are considered
unavoidable, it does not automatically mean that those losses
must be fully matched by external makeup imports. It is tech-
nically feasible to recover major parts of refrigerant losses. The
question is whether or not this alternative is the most economical.
Whereas large-scale LNG plants usually take the C
to C
makeup components from the fractionation process, in most
cases, this is not an economical option for small-scale LNG
plants, although it is technically feasible and has been success-
25 30 35 40
Feed pressure, bar (a)



45 50 55 65 60
Liquefaction power vs. feed gas pressure
@ 40C/104F ambient temperature
FIG. 5. Liquefaction power vs. feed gas pressure.
expander 30C
expander 40C
expander 50C
25 35 45 55 65
Feed pressure, bar (a)







Specic power demand, SMR vs. dual N
vs. feed gas pressure
FIG. 6. Specific power demand for SMR vs. dual N
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50JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
fully demonstrated. Therefore, makeup import from external
sources is usually considered, and refrigerant components are
limited to C
and C
. This comes at the expense of a small ef-
ficiency loss, which is considered in the efficiency comparison.
This small efficiency loss helps to minimize both the invest-
ment cost for the makeup system and logistical/procurement
efforts for the plant operator.
While an inexpensive/high-leak seal design is technically
an option for N
expander cycle machinery, it is an economic
question of which setup offers the best lifecycle cost, as will be
discussed later.
Makeup system operation. In the N
expander cycle, the
operator must monitor the cycle pressure and add N
the pressure drops below certain limits. The machinery seal
type and resulting leakage rate of the system determine the fre-
quency for adding makeup. This frequency may range from a
continuous operation to a weekly occurrence.
Operating efforts may be doubled in case a C
cycle is added to the N
expander cycle (depending on C
pressor seal design). For the SMR cycle, leakage and resulting
makeup rates are lowered by an order of magnitude. Nonethe-
less, the operator must monitor the refrigerant composition in
addition to the cycle inventory. An online analyzer (i.e., a gas
chromatograph) is provided to this end, and biweekly check-
ing of inventory and composition is recommended. (Contrary
to statements found in some literature, the authors experience
has shown that SMR cycle efficiency is quite forgiving to off-
spec MR composition and is sufficient to achieve close to the
recommended component mix.) To add makeup components,
automated functions can be activated by the operator on the
control panel without any need for further field operator inter-
vention. Operator failure to maintain refrigerant composition
may result in slowly decreasing process efficiency.
Operation at off-design conditions. Liquefaction capacity
can be adjusted for both refrigeration technologies. In principal,
capacity is influenced by the refrigerant system inventory; i.e.,
reduced refrigerant system inventory will result in lower pres-
sures, lower refrigerant mass flows and lower LNG production.
For the N
expander cycle, such inventory adjustment is a
widely used method to achieve efficient partial-load operation.
The operator must only release or add inventory to decrease or
increase the plant load. By doing so, the refrigerant compres-
sor antisurge valves can remain closed over a wide load range.
In this way, process efficiencies near design can be maintained.
To avoid losing released refrigerant, a dedicated buffer drum
can be added for temporary storage. This can be quite a large
and expensive vessel, depending on the plant capacity, but op-
eration of such a system is relatively simple. The typical N
pander process can reach a partial load as low as 30%.
The SMR technology features the maintenance of a two-
phase refrigerant of a certain composition. Releasing inven-
tory is more complex and, therefore, is only done occasion-
ally. Dumping of released refrigerant usually is not an option,
so temporary storage is required. Without such optional extra
equipment, partial-load operation is realized by reducing the
compressor throughput (e.g., via inlet guide vanes) and, below
a certain load, opening the recycle valves to protect the com-
pressor from surge. Partial-load process efficiency will drop
drastically when operating in recycle mode. To maintain correct
two-phase flow patterns in the PFHE, partial-load operation is
limited to approximately 50% in this setup.
In the frequent case where extended partial-load operation
is expectedmostly during the initial operating period of an
LNG plantno extra equipment is needed. In that case, opera-
tions require the filling of the SMR cycle inventory up to the
level corresponding to the desired plant load. This step-by-step
procedure allows for highly efficient partial-load operation (as
low as 30%) at no additional cost.
Additionally, SMR technology gives the option to vary the
refrigerant design composition to improve process efficiency
at off-design operating conditions (typically, ambient tempera-
tures). This can be realized to a limited extent by modifying
the ratio between heavy mixed-refrigerant (HMR) and light
mixed-refrigerant (LMR) flow; otherwise, manual adjustment
of the composition is required.
To avoid loss of refrigerant, such an adjustment should
be made in the normal frequency of adding makeup, unless a
refrigerant buffer is provided. Therefore, this method is only
suitable for longer-term (typically, seasonal) adjustments, rath-
er than daily adjustments, although it may still result in lower
annual power consumption.
Startup time. Startup from a warm condition to a full
load must be performed slowly with the SMR option. This is
necessary to keep thermal stress in the PFHE within permis-
sible limits, because liquid refrigerant has a far higher heat-
TABLE 2. Diferences in capital cost for SMR vs. N
CAPEX diference,
million USD SMR
Dual N
low OPEX
high OPEX
Liquefaction unit 0 +0.15 +0.15
Refrigeration system
Rotating equipment +0.3 +0.8 0
Static equipment +0.15 0 0
Bulk materials and labor 0 +1.4 +1.4
Refrigerant makeup system
Static equipment +0.6 0 0
Bulk materials and labor +0.7 0 0
Total +1.75 +2.35 +1.55
TABLE 3. Diferences in operating cost for SMR vs. N
OPEX diference,
million USD per year SMR
Dual N
low OPEX
high OPEX
Electric power
(0.06 USD/kWh)
0 +0.7 +0.7
Refrigerant makeup/seal gas
MR hydrocarbon
components (0.4 USD/lb)
+0.15 0 0
Nitrogen (0.1 USD/lb) +0.07 0 +0.75
Total +0.22 +0.70 +1.45
Will you have a place in Israels Oil and Gas Industry?
Attend EMGC 2014 and learn about new and exciting
business opportunities for your company. At EMGC,
executives from operator and service and technology
companies active in the region will share insight into
their experience with this important new resource area.
If youre planning on, or interested in, doing business in
Israel, you need to attend this important industry event.
Youll Hear from Top Executives including:
Charles D. Davidson
Chairman and CEO
Noble Energy
Gina Cohen
Gas Consultant
Eastern Mediterranean
Gideon Tadmor, CEO, Avner Oil Exploration
Yossi Abu, CEO, Delek Drilling
Lawson Freeman, Vice President, Eastern
Mediterranean, Noble Energy
Government of Israel and Government of Cyprus
EMGC 2014 Conference Program
will Explore:
Current Exploration Programs in Israel and Cyprus
Resource Potential
Israels Export Opportunities including Technical,
Economical and Geopolitical Implications
Export Opportunities via Pipelines, Challenges
and Solutions
Legal Issues including Project Finance, Taxation,
Regulations and Antitrust
Economic Impact of New Energy Resources on Israel
and Cyprus
Infrastructure Requirements
Gas Processing and Transportation Fuels
The Future of the Eastern Mediterranean including
Leviathan and Tamar discoveries
Benets of Attending:
Networking breaks, a gala dinner and exhibition hall
will allow you to form key business connections while
conference sessions will give you the critical information
you need to begin setting up business operations in
this developing region.
View the Full 2014 Agenda at:
1012 March 2014
Hilton Tel AvivTel Aviv, Israel
Register by February 5, 2014
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Please contact Gwen Hood, Events Manager, Gulf Publishing Company, at +1 (713) 520-4402 or Gwen.Hood@GulfPub.com
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Focus on Israeli Innovation
Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend this tour on 10 March.
Supported by the Israel Export Institute and the Israel NewTech program,
the tour will include a trip to the Sorek desalination plant, the largest
desalination plant in the world where attendees will learn about the plants
capabilities of desalination and water treatment in all its aspects and a visit
to one of the leading security companies in the world. The tour runs from
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201451
Natural Gas Developments
transfer coefficient than does gas. With liquid refrigerants, the
PFHE core temperature approaches refrigerant temperature
faster. Typically, the startup of an N
expander process can
be achieved in about half the time required for the
startup of an SMR process.
For a cold plant restart (e.g., after a trip where the
PFHE remains cold), there is no difference in start-
up time between the two refrigeration technologies.
Plant maintainability. Compressors are the
main focus when assessing plant maintainability.
There are significant differences in rotating equip-
ment quantities and design between refrigeration
technologies. For the SMR cycle, there is only one
compressor and, therefore, only one set of capital
spare parts to be procured.
The N
expander cycle comprises two additional
expander/booster sets. Therefore, three machines
require regular maintenance, and three sets of capital
spare parts must be procured. The typical seal sys-
tems used in this scenario have good operating re-
cords, and spare parts are a much lower matter of expense than
for DGSs. Also, the likelihood of unscheduled maintenance
issues is greater on three pieces of compression equipment vs.
a single piece of compression equipment.
One possibility to achieve at least equal maintainability is
to use hermetically sealed expander/booster sets with mag-
netic bearings that are more or less maintenance-free, in addi-
tion to their advantage of zero refrigerant leakage.
The N
expander cycle situation is more impacted when a
precooling cycle is added to enhance process efficiency, as this
configuration adds a fourth compressor.
Environmental and process safety. The handling and stor-
age of LNG is key when it comes to safety and permits for LNG
plants. There is no difference between the two refrigeration
technologies in this regard. The methodology for determining
exclusion zones typically results in similar separation distances
that are accounted for in a standard plant layout. Risks of ex-
plosion and jet fires resulting from high-pressure natural gas
piping systems are also comparable, as is the requirement for
explosion or fire protection.
The small advantage an N
expander plant may have is can-
celed when C
precooling or ammonia precooling is added.
These considerations drive the novel CO
precooling system
to appear on the agenda for floating LNG (FLNG).
To achieve the same compact layout at an equal level of safe-
ty, the SMR plant will only incur additional cost for safety mea-
sures when forced into a congested plant layout by the available
plot spacee.g., in an FLNG plant.
While some publications suggest that the N
expander cy-
cle is friendlier to the environment than the SMR due to its use
of N
as the refrigerant, this is only a partial truth. The refrig-
erant is operated in a closed cycle, with the compressor seals
as the only significant point of leakage. The small seal leakage
from an SMR cycle compressor will usually be flared, resulting
in CO
emissions, or it may be recycled. In this case, the N
expander cycle has an environmental benefit, since its seals will
release only harmless N
. However, when evaluating energy ef-
ficiency with a corresponding CO
footprint, this advantage is
turned on its head, and the SMR cycle has more benefits.
Economics. Differences in investment and operating cost have
been determined for some examples to ensure that evaluation of
the different technologies is considered on an equal basis. The ex-
ample provided is deemed representative. It encompasses a typi-
cal LNG liquefier (i.e., liquefaction, refrigeration and makeup
units) in a US Gulf Coast location with a capacity of 200,000 gpd.
For the N
expander cycle, two options are shown in TABLE 2:
1. Process machinery, either seal-less or fitted with refrig-
erant recovery, resulting in higher investment cost but
lower utility consumption and operating cost
2. Process machinery fitted with standard seal systems
(C-rings on the refrigerant compressor and labyrinths
elsewhere), resulting in lower investment cost but higher
utility consumption and operating cost.
Capital cost. Capital expenditures (CAPEX) include en-
gineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and turnkey
delivery of the LNG liquefier. In each cost line item, the lowest
option has been set to zero, and the incremental cost of the al-
ternatives is indicated. Optional features (e.g., refrigerant buf-
fer systems) have not been considered.
Observations on this comparison include:
SMR compressors are expensive equipment compared
to the air separation unit machinery of the N
Piping quantities are greater than 100% higher for the N
expander cycle compared to the SMR cycle, resulting in
significantly higher materials and construction cost
Total cost differences between the three alternatives are
smallonly about 5% when considering the absolute
cost of the exemplary liquefier system, or 1% when con-
sidering the absolute cost of the exemplary, complete,
greenfield LNG plant.
Operating cost. Operating expenditures (OPEX) assessed
in TABLE 3 account only for power and refrigerant makeup con-
sumption and are based on 8,000 hours per year. The cost for
operating personnel will be identical, whereas cost differences
for equipment maintenance are difficult to assess precisely.
Observations on this comparison include:
The SMR cycle shows the expected benefits with respect
to power consumption
For the N
expander cycle, the cost of LN
reaches the same order as the cost of power
Having demonstrated only minor
capital cost differences between the
two refrigeration technologies, it can
be concluded that a decision is best
based on operating cost and operability
issues. For applications with high annual
operating hours near design load, the SMR
technology has a strong advantage with
respect to operating cost.
52JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
When considering a 15-year lifecycle cost, the relative
OPEX disadvantage of the N
expander cycle to the
SMR reaches the same order of magnitude as the abso-
lute cost of the exemplary liquefier system.
Recommendations. Having demonstrated only minor capi-
tal cost differences between the two refrigeration technologies,
it can be concluded that a decision is best based on operating
cost and operability issues.
For applications with high annual operating hours near
design load, such as baseload or peakshaving LNG plants, the
SMR technology has a strong advantage with respect to oper-
ating cost. Its disadvantages, including longer startup time and
reduced partial-load capability, are less relevant.
For applications with low annual operating hours and wide
load-profile requirements, such as boiloff gas reliquefaction
units, the N
expander cycle, with a refrigerant buffer system,
offers significant advantages with short startup time, as well as
wide partial-load capability and efficiency, while low operating
hours compensate for higher specific operating cost.
Additionally, in remote areas where C
and C
makeup com-
ponent delivery comes at high logistical effort and price, the
OPEX gap between the SMR cycle and the N
expander cycle
will be smaller. However, this situation will rarely arise in the US.
The extra investment in an N
expander cycle low-leakage
system typically will have an attractive payback time of less than
three years.
The SMR process used in this study is Lindes proprietary single-cycle, multistage
mixed-refrigerant process LIMUM. The N
expander process is BHP Billitons
licensed dual-nitrogen expander process.
SMR power consumption is used as a reference point for comparison and is,
therefore, set to 100% throughout the temperature/pressure range.
THORSTEN KOHLER graduated from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg,
Germany in 1997 with a masters degree in chemical engineering, and he joined
Linde Engineering in 1997 as a systems and commissioning engineer for adsorption
plants. Mr. Kohler moved to Linde Engineerings process design group for LNG
and natural gas processing plants in 2002. Since 2006, he has been working as
lead process engineer on small- to mid-scale LNG projects, including proposal
work, contract executions and commissioning.
MATTHIAS BRUENTRUP graduated from Munich Technical University in Germany
in 1996 with a masters degree in engineering, and joined Linde Engineering in
2000 as a project manager. He has been working on small- to mid-scale LNG
projects since 2005 in various positions, including as proposal manager and
senior project manager. Based on this experience, Mr. Bruentrup became a
product manager for small- to mid-scale LNG plants in 2012.
RON D. KEY graduated from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma with bachelors and
masters degrees in chemical engineering, and joined Linde Engineering in 1988. He
holds six process-related patents. Mr. Key is presently serving as the vice president
of technology and sales at Linde Process Plants Inc., and he is an experienced
business leader in engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction.
TINA EDVARDSSON graduated from Chalmers University of Technology in
Sweden in 1985 with a masters degree in chemical engineering, and joined
Linde Engineering in 2012. She holds four process-related patents. Ms. Edvardsson
is presently serving as the director of business development at Linde Process
Plants Inc. She has more than 25 years of experience in developing processing
and power plant projects in the domestic and international markets.
Select 153 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201455
Special Report
Natural Gas Developments
J. WANICHKO, T.A. Cook Consultants,
Raleigh, North Carolina
The ethane addiction: How long will
the US advantage last?
The price advantage US petrochemical
producers have gained from shale has been
well documented, but the wider effect of
that advantage on competition between
Europe and the US demands equal atten-
tion. Here, the increasing use of ethane as
a feedstock and its effects on the global
petrochemical industry, both in terms of
product availability and the market-spe-
cific nuances that affect the survival of its
key players, are examined.
United States of shale. Until 2006, shale
was responsible for almost none of the US
crude oil demand, of which approximately
10 million barrels per day (MMbpd) of the
16 MMbpd were imported. However, by
July 2013, the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale
plays in the US were together responsible
for just over 1.4 MMbpd, adding steadily
to the amount of domestically produced
conventional crude.
As a result of the changes in supply,
the US changed from being a natural gas
importer to a nation with a surplus of gas,
pushing the industrial price of natural gas to
record lows of just over $3 per thousand cu-
bic feet in 2012. According to the American
Chemistry Council, the price of ethane pro-
duced from gas dropped significantly, from
a high of 93 cents per gallon (gal) in 2008 to
only 26 cents/gal at the end of 2012.
Not surprisingly, the effect of such low
ethane prices has been a jump in ethane
margins to 25 cents per pound (lb) in
mid-2013, showing an advantage against
naphtha of almost 30 cents/lb, which has
fluctuated around the zero mark. This, in
turn, has prompted the announcement of a
number of ethylene-specific construction
projects based solely on the ethane avail-
able from shale. By 2017 alone, over 7.7
million (MM) tons of capacity will come
online from firms including ExxonMobil
Chemical and Chevron Phillips (TABLE 1),
while additional capacity will be available
from the expansion of existing units.
According to analysts, this additional
ethylene capacity will require 12 MM
tons per year (MMtpy) of extra ethane,
which could result in an ethane deficit of
more than 3.5 MMtpyeven when tak-
ing shale development into accountif
all of those projects and extensions are
completed. The obvious result would be
limited supply, increasing prices and de-
creasing profit margins.
The European environment. Mean-
while, in Europe, the effects of ethane
cracking in the US have been felt keenly,
for two key reasons. First, while Western
Europe is home to a number of shale for-
mations (799 trillion cubic feet of techni-
cally recoverable resources, according to
the US Energy Information Administra-
tion), shale remains a highly controversial
political issue in Europe.
The environmental effects of hydrau-
lic fracturing (i.e., fracing) on water tables
and greenbelt areas are regularly publicized
by lobbies and parties that oppose the de-
velopment of shale plays. For this reason,
politicians are hesitant to publicly endorse
fracking. President Franois Hollande of
France has gone so far as to maintain a ban
on the use of fracing technology.
Second, since Europe predominantly
built its infrastructure around naphtha
cracking, which is tied to the price of crude
oil, its petrochemical industry has inevita-
bly suffered from recent oil price highs of
$100/bbl. If the dwindling crude reserves
in the North Seafrom which Euro-
pean producers have historically gained
a leadare taken into account, then the
US competitive advantage from shale de-
velopment puts European producers in a
very tough position.
Better late than never. This scenario
has spurred European companies to jump
on the ethane bandwagon and arrange
contracts with producers in North Amer-
ica to import the chemical. Ineos Europe
AG, for example, announced a new agree-
ment to source ethane from Marcus Hook,
Pennsylvania, for use in its cracker com-
plexes in Europe, which are due to come
online in the first half of 2015.
In the short term, similar deals could
help improve margins for producers in
Europe, but pending legislation in the
US designed to limit the amount of eth-
ane permitted for export could hinder
Europes progress and instead preserve
the US competitive advantage. Even
if European companies sign contracts
quickly, those contracts will fail to ad-
dress the high level of investment needed
TABLE 1. Planned new crackers in the US, based on capacity from shale
Company Capacity, MMt Location Startup
Sasol 1.5 Lake Charles, Louisiana 2017
OxyChem/Mexichem 0.544 Ingleside, Texas February 2017
ExxonMobil Chemical 1.5 Baytown, Texas Late 2016
Chevron Phillips Chemical 1.5 Cedar Bayou, Texas Mid- to late-2017
Dow Chemical 1.5 Freeport, Texas 2017
Formosa Plastics 1.2 Point Comfort, Texas 2017
56JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Natural Gas Developments
to secure European feedstock availability
and renew its aging infrastructure over
the long term.
Present estimates state that 33% of
crackers in Europe will become uneco-
nomical by 2015. For major players, such
as Shell, the level of capital required, the
high price of construction work, and the
significantly higher margins available
from exploration and production, have
made selling the only option.
Furthermore, EU regulations related
to fuel quality and emissions add a heavy
and sometimes conflicting burden on
operators in the region, placing the EU at
a major competitive disadvantage, ac-
cording to Europia, the European petro-
leum industry association. Instead, firms
in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Brazil
and South Korea are investigating build-
ing their own crackers on US soil.
Propylene panacea. At this stage, the
coproducts formed from naphtha crack-
ing begin to increase in importance.
A key effect of the ethane surge on the
petrochemical market is the reduction in
coproduct volumes that have occurred.
Naphtha cracking produces a mixture
of coproductsnamely propylene (C
and butadiene (C
)and yields approx-
imately 30% ethane. Cracking ethane
produces a yield of about 80% ethylene,
but hardly any propylene or butadiene.
The trend toward building ethylene-only
plants, and the decrease in the building
of new FCC units, means that traditional
sources of propylene production will not
be able to keep up with demand, which
is estimated to be growing at 5%6% per
year globally.
The resulting shortage in propylene
supply has increased prices and prompt-
ed the announcement of a number of
on-purpose propylene projects in North
America, which together could pump
enough propylene into the market to re-
duce the demand gap to 750,000 metric
tpy. However, according to some ana-
lysts, even this extra capacity will not be
able to satisfy huge global demand, par-
ticularly from Asia, which, like Europe,
traditionally relies on naphtha cracking.
This gap between new supply and ris-
ing demand could be the panacea that
Europe needs to get ahead. Although the
margins to be gained from ethane in Eu-
rope are somewhat limited due to trans-
portation and security costs, propylene
is in short supply, the naphtha needed to
make it is still available in Europe and the
infrastructure to produce it alredy exists.
Maintaining maturity. Europe is a
mature market, and growth is far slower
than in Asia and the Middle East. Euro-
pean infrastructure is older and cannot
compete with the super-refineries be-
ing built abroad. However, that maturity
also means that Europe has developed a
substantial advantage in terms of knowl-
edge and technology.
The petrochemical clusters around
Rotterdam and Antwerp, in particular,
employ large numbers of highly skilled
and experienced staff that have used
their know-how to greatly increase plant
efficiency. Production sites are well-inte-
grated and serve a domestic market that
is easy to reach, keeping logistics costs
low. In contrast, huge distances in the
US translate into equally large transpor-
tation costs.
To sustain its low-cost position, Eu-
ropes companies must make vital strate-
gic decisions as to how to survive, wheth-
er via consolidation, organic growth or
upstream and downstream integration.
The best use of technological know-how
and product portfolios, aging assets, and
the value and source of research and de-
velopment are all fundamental to staying
profitable over the long term.
If operators decide not to sell, ongo-
ing investment is required to keep facili-
ties competitive; assets must be kept in
optimal working condition, and employ-
ee skills must be leveraged, so that main-
tenance and safety standards remain
high. To remain competitive, it is
vital to account for all spending
and to carefully examine the effec-
tiveness of expensive processes,
such as shutdowns, contracted
costs and labor productivity.
The great shale play. These
market-specific and political nu-
ances mean that it is unlikely that
most European operators will
switch to lighter feedstock. Instead, they
will develop their propylene and buta-
diene positions to exploit the margins
created by the US ethane demand. It
is, therefore, possible that pockets of
specialized production could develop
along geographic lines, affected by and
involved in global trade, but engaged at
the same time in localized niches for a
particular product.
As more countries develop their shale
positions (China alone is estimated to
have more than two and a half times the
shale reserves of the US), the scale of
change that the US ethane extraction has
started could grow dramatically over the
coming years, altering the structure of the
worldwide petrochemical industry.
Presently, Europe is at the less positive
end of the cost curve, but if producers
move into higher-value-added products
and ensure that they stay ahead in inno-
vation and technology, that is unlikely to
remain the case for long. If ethylene is
produced on a scale large enough to cre-
ate a global supply glut, then the margins
enjoyed by producers in the US will rap-
idly decrease. Those desperate to jump
onto the ethane bandwagon might do
well to focus on the long game, for this
play is far from over.
JERRY WANICHKO is the director of
consulting operations for T.A. Cook
Consultants in North America. He
has over 25 years of international
consulting experience in several
industries, with expertise in oil, gas
and chemicals. Previously, Mr.
Wanichko was the director of operations for Fluor,
where he provided routine maintenance, reliability, and
planning and scheduling services across 13 different
petrochemical sites. Mr. Wanichko provides consulting
services to asset-intensive businesses in the refining
and petrochemicals industries. His work supports
clients with maintenance optimization, turnarounds,
outages, shutdown optimization and overall
equipment-effectiveness improvement.
As more countries develop their shale positions,
the scale of change the US ethane
extraction has started could grow dramatically
over the coming years, altering the structure
of the worldwide petrochemical industry.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201457
Special Report
Natural Gas Developments
J. CHOSNEK, KnowledgeOne, Houston, Texas; and
V. H. EDWARDS, IHI E&C International Corp., Houston, Texas
From LNG imports to exports: Process safety
and regulatory challenges
As natural gas becomes more abundant
in the US, the demand for liquefied natural
gas (LNG) imports is disappearing, while
the need to find markets for domestic nat-
ural gas is increasing. LNG terminal opera-
tors are thus switching from LNG imports,
which require regasification, to LNG ex-
ports, which require liquefaction, resulting
in dramatically changed processing. In liq-
uefaction, new flammable refrigerants have
been introduced in large quantities for
cryogenic cooling. These compounds can
form vapor clouds similar in size to LNG,
but the new compounds will reach further
and be more reactive than LNG vapors.
Additionally, in liquefaction, there is
significant processing involving compres-
sion and distillation at high pressures and
cryogenic temperatures. The natural gas
and the LNG itself will be at high pressures,
on the order of 600 psig to 1,000 psig, with
large process flows and inventories. Also,
the incoming high-pressure pipeline gas
needs to be conditioned to remove mer-
cury (Hg), hydrogen sulfide (H
S), car-
bon dioxide (CO
), water (H
O) and C
hydrocarbons prior to liquefaction.
This additional processing presents
hazards that have not been previously ad-
dressed in LNG import plants. These new
hazards must be examined in modeling
studies and also considered in facility sit-
ing to minimize risk.
LNG is a heavily regulated commodity,
and that poses challenges for producers.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Com-
mission (FERC) regulates LNG through
the US Department of Transportations
(DOTs) Pipeline Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA). The
main regulation is 49CFR 193, which is
based on National Fire Protection Asso-
ciation (NFPA) regulation 59A.
2, 3, 4
regulations and standards are mainly
consequence-based instead of risk-based,
because import problems could be solved
with impoundment to comply with the
regulations. This has changed significantly
with export facilities, and guidance to, and
from, government agencies is needed.
5, 6
Import characteristics. LNG import
facilities are comparatively simple, as sum-
marized here:
Receive LNG from a ship
Store LNG
Pump to high pressure
Heat to vaporize
Put gas into pipeline.
In essence, LNG is received from a
ship and pumped to large storage tanks
that operate at low pressures. The LNG is
then pumped to high pressures, allowing
for regasification, and subsequently put
into pipelines.
Export characteristics. In contrast to
LNG imports, LNG exports are more
complex. Here are typical steps in the liq-
uefaction of natural gas:
Receive natural gas (primarily
methane) from pipeline at
high pressure
Clean gas: Remove Hg, H
and carbonyl sulfide
Dry gas
Remove heavies and fuel gas
Liquefy (potentially one
or more refrigeration cycles)
Where natural gas supply contains
significant nitrogen, strip nitrogen
from LNG
Send to storage tank
Pump to ship.
Natural gas is received from pipelines
at high pressure (typically 1,000 psi).
When processing it, first mercury is re-
moved by adsorption. Then H
S and CO

are removed from the gas by absorption,
typically using an aqueous amine solvent.
The wet gas is then dried and cooled
and heavies are removed and sent to frac-
tionation, where byproduct condensate
is sent out for sale. Next, the lean gas is
liquefied by refrigeration, and, if it con-
tains significant amounts of nitrogen, it is
stripped before sending the LNG to stor-
age. From storage, LNG is pumped to an
LNG tanker for export.
Process chemicals. TABLE 1 contrasts
the process chemicals in LNG regasifica-
tion and natural gas liquefaction to LNG.
Import safety issues. LNG import is
not without its challenges. These are the
primary sources of process hazards:
TABLE 1. Contrasts in process chemicals
in LNG regasication and natural gas
LNG (predominantly methane)
Natural gas
LNG (predominantly methane)
Carbon dioxide
Hydrogen sulde
Condensate (C
+ hydrocarbons)
Propane, propylene
Ethane, ethylene
Mixed refrigerant
Natural Gas Developments
LNG handling, transfers
and releases
Cryogenic temperatures
Explosion (low probability due to
low congestion and low reactivity)
Accidental releases of LNG pose all of
the above hazards, but explosion hazards
are comparatively low because the sim-
plicity of the process leads to low conges-
tion, and the high concentration of meth-
ane keeps reactivity low.
Export safety issues. Liquefaction has
all of the challenges of LNG importation,
plus quite a few others:
Handling of high-pressure and
low-temperature refrigerants
High processing temperatures
(natural gas pre-treatment)
Higher-intensity fires
Explosion (higher probability,
higher congestion and reactivity)
Toxic exposure from H
S present in
the incoming natural gas
Facility siting.
Because natural gas liquefaction pro-
cesses typically contain some process
streams rich in C
+ hydrocarbons, there is
a higher risk of explosion from these more
reactive compounds. In addition, the great-
er process complexity increases conges-
tion, along with more potential leak sites.
S removed from the natural gas and
concentrated during purification poses a
toxic exposure hazard in the event of a re-
lease. The use of refrigerants or refrigerant
mixtures adds to the hazards of handling
and storing of these materials. These ma-
terials are typically used in closed loops,
where large quantities are evaporated
and then recompressed to high pressures.
These materials have a much higher po-
tential of fire and explosion than methane.
The added complexity makes training
of personnel more complex, and, at a new
site, it represents new hazards for existing
or newly occupied buildings.
Regulatory agencies. LNG facilities
built within the US must meet the require-
ments of a number of regulatory agencies
(TABLE 2). The most specific requirements
are those of FERC and PHMSA, which
require that LNG facilities be designed to
comply with NFPA 59A and with other ap-
plicable industry codes and standards.
2, 3, 4
Non-governmental organizations also
often actively promote the strict enforce-
ment of existing regulations and the ag-
gressive interpretation of existing law.
Import challenges. Current US regu-
lations focus on LNG import facilities
(TABLE 3). FERC is the lead federal agency
and, with PHMSA, it regulates domestic
LNG facilities through 49 CFR 193. This
regulation also draws heavily on NFPA 59A.
FERC requires a detailed lifecycle ap-
proach to monitor and approve the siting,
engineering design, construction and op-
eration of LNG facilities. FERC normally
prepares the environmental impact assess-
ment for new LNG facilities. In addition,
the US Coast Guard has regulatory au-
thority over waterfront LNG import and
export facilities.
US states also have veto power over
LNG facilities through delegated federal

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Natural Gas Developments
regulations such as the Coastal Zone Man-
agement Act, the Clean Water Act and the
Clean Air Act.
Export challenges. Existing federal reg-
ulations mention natural gas liquefaction
only briefly, since the primary rulemaking
focus was for LNG imports.
As previously mentioned, FERC
and NFPA 59A are consequence-based
(TABLE 4). NFPA 59A requires that a
design spill does not surpass the limits
shown in Table 4 at a property line with
only passive mitigations (like dikes, fixed
barriers and gravity-flow impoundments).
The LNG tanks in the facility are also in-
cluded in the exclusion zone for radiation
and overpressure.
FERC recently clarified the conditions
for the piping ruptures, providing initiat-
ing frequencies for breaks and ruptures
based on valve count, pipe lengths and
diameters rather than for full-bore breaks
for all pipe sizes.
5, 6
This more reasonably
defined a design spill than the traditional
worst case scenario, but left intact the con-
sequence to be avoided and the restriction
on using only passive mitigations.
A consequence-based approach is very
difficult for complex processing opera-
tions, where releases cannot be mitigated
by passive means. One such example is
a high-pressure release at an elevation
where there is no liquid pool formation,
which means there is no possibility for im-
poundment of the spill.
High complexity. Natural gas lique-
faction and export is a safe and proven
technology, and it poses fewer hazards
than many other chemical manufacturing
processes. However, conversion of LNG
import terminals to liquefaction facilities
requires more complex processing and
involves significant inventories of much
more hazardous compounds. Therefore,
the careful application of industry best
practices in the conversion of LNG import
terminals to LNG export is essential.
Better regulations, based on dialog with
regulatory agencies and a shift from conse-
quence-based regulations to a process safe-
ty risk-based approach would be helpful for
future natural gas liquefaction plant proj-
In addition, improved modeling tools
and a better understanding of potential ef-
fects on the community are needed.
Literature cited available at HydrocarbonProcessing.com.
Author biographies can be found online at
TABLE 2. Agencies regulating LNG in the US
US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
US Department of Energy (DOE)
US Department of Transportations (DOTs) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA)
US Department of Homeland Security (Coast Guard)
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
US Fish and Wildlife Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
State and local health, safety and environment (HSE) bodies and utility agencies
TABLE 3. Principal regulations pertaining
to LNG in the US
Federal executive branch: Veto power
US Department of Homeland Security
US Coast Guards Waterway Suitability
States: Veto power
Coastal Zone Management Act
Clean Water Act
Clean Air Act
TABLE 4. Consequence-based FERC
regulatory criteria
Exclusion zones (at the property line) from a
release caused by a design spill. This means
an LNG pipe break will last 10 minutes and
only passive mitigations are allowed.
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Bonus Report
The reliability of rotating equipment depends on continuously
maintaining clean, dirt-free lubricant to all turning/moving parts. The
combination of lubricant systems and oils is complex for every facility.
Lubricants contaminated with water and particulates are known
root causes for equipment failures. Best practices and improved
technologies such as oil-mist systems can mitigate problems in plant
equipment and prevent equipment failures or repairs.
Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201461
Bonus Report
Lubrication Practices
H. P. BLOCH, HP staff, Westminster, Colorado
Update on lubrication systems
Several case histories illustrate the pros and cons for maintain-
ing rotating equipment under various plant conditions.
Example 1. In late May 2013, a US oil-mist provider in one of the
Great Lakes states sent out a note that observed there is no other
single device that yields the reliability improvements obtained
with oil-mist lubrication. This feedback is important to reliability
engineers because the provider company is not the average vendor.
This particular provider also owns an equipment repair fa-
cility specializing in mixer seals; some of these seals have di-
mensions in the 48-in. (1.2-m) diameter range. By replacing
grease-lubricated bearings with oil-mist retrofits in about 50
critical mixers, the providers rebuild shop has helped equip-
ment users achieve very significant equipment uptime exten-
sions and reduced repair costs. These developments demon-
strate huge progress.
Slurry pumps. More specifically, this provider company re-
corded quantum improvements in bearing and seal reliability at
its customers installations. By installing a large number of oil-
mist conversions, both provider and customers have experienced
changed expectations regarding rotating equipment reliability.
Among the providers many unqualified successes were slurry
pumps produced by a well-known US pump manufacturer. In this
application, the oil-mist provider was able to identify several case
histories. Many of these involved serious bearing distress situa-
tions. At one site, chronic bearing failures had disrupted opera-
tions; many of them resulted in repair obligations deemed nearly
unworkable prior to applying oil-mist lubrication.
High-temperature case. In another case, extremely high
grease temperatures were documented in the bearing housings
of several pumps in high-temperature heat-transfer-fluid service.
Escalating maintenance costs soon caused declining profits for
the operating company.
At first, it was thought that, if failures persisted, the user
plants survivability may be in question. After converting to
an oil-mist system, the provider set up test loops and invited
customers to witness bearing temperature declines of as much
as 100F (56C). With with oil-mist systems, pump failure
frequencies dropped to below industry-accepted values. This
development was another important step forward in the reli-
ability of lubrication systems.
Oil mist on electric motors. As shown in FIG. 1, electric motor
lubrication with pure oil mist is now in its fourth decade of highly
successful usage at best-of-class (BOC) plants in the hydrocar-
bon processing industry (HPI). Some electric motors at a facility
in Texas were commissioned in 1977. Now 36 years later, these
motors have yet to experience a bearing failure. The topic of how
oil-mist intrusion does not affect motor windings was discussed
in several books and numerous articles.
Occasional opinions to the contrary are easily refuted by four
decades of well-documented and highly favorable experience. Ex-
tensive testing of oil-soaked motor windings in a 350F (177C)
environment was done by Reliance Electric (now Baldor-Reli-
ance) in the early 1970s. The highly favorable results were liber-
ally shared with industry in 1977.
Oil-mist lubricated motors are
a huge step forward over the alternatives.
With the exception of oil refineries, oil-mist technology is
largely underutilized in the general manufacturing industry. The
reasons are often linked to outdated perceptions and an inad-
equate understanding of how to cost-justify this simple and ma-
ture lubrication technology. Valid cost justification calculations
by knowledgeable professionals should include electric motor
FIG. 1. Vertical pump lubricated by pure oil mist in a closed-loop mode.
Source: Total Lubrication Management, Houston, Texas.
62JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Lubrication Practices
drivers, the value of fire avoidance and the benefits of using oil
mist to protect standby equipment.
During 40 years of exceptionally good experience with this
simple and yet mature technology, no plant was ever shut down
due to a system failure. Past oil-mist system mistakes are easily
explained by uncovering (or reading about) installation errors
made in the 1960s. There are no moving parts in oil-mist genera-
tors. The payback for plantwide systems is now achieved in one
to two years. This payback obtained with the single-point oil-mist
application devices installed by the oil-mist provider mentioned
earlier is often measured in weeks.
Oil mist in new plants. Many enlightened design contractors
advise their clients to use plantwide oil mist from the inception
of the facilitys design. Of course, not everyone chooses to take
this approach. The compelling advantages of preservation by oil
mist are sometimes overlooked in new plant construction where
open-air storage should mandate equipment protection. An oil-
mist blanket can serve the storage protection needs better than
most other methods, as illustrated in FIG. 2. However, edicts to
save money right now are passed down the line, and, sometimes,
are accepted by uninformed or indifferent support staff. The ulti-
mate outcome is very easy to predict: Large sums of money will
either be spent on precautionary equipment examination shortly
before equipment commissioning, or on equipment recondition-
ing during (or soon after) the startup phase. At one site, allocat-
ing funds for storage protection would have yielded paybacks
conservatively estimated at a ratio of 10:1. The non-allocation of
funds for storage protection is always a step backward, and it will
prove burdensome to the major refinery that took this position.
Updated grease application knowledge. Regarding the
more traditional lube application methods, some are largely
driven by marketers. Among the older methods that seem to
make their comeback in 30-year cycles are numerous different
single-point grease applicators. They are often called single-
point automatic lubricators (SPALs) and function by pushing
grease into bearing housings.
However, the oil and soap constit-
uents of these greases tend to separate when under pressure. All
common industrial greases bleed, i.e., they release oil from the
soap matrix. This soap matrix then acts like a sponge.
Grease formulations have different bleed points for various
applications. The bleed points needed for electric motors will
differ from the bleed points needed by the greases used in paper
machines. Consider that greases which remain homogenous
under pressure are compounded for gear couplings and slow-
speed machines. But greases that remain homogenous under
pressure are not an ideal choice for electric motors. Premium
greases made for high-speed motor applications are less homog-
enous, and they will separate into soap and oil roughly six times
more readily than the more homogenous counterparts.
Choosing between the two greases must be governed by an
action that is either reliability-focused or repair-focused. Ad-
ditional staffing is needed to do more frequent maintenance
if premium greases are used under pressure. The SPALs filled
with premium grease must be replaced before too much of the
grease separates. And using SPALs with less-than-ideal greases
will simply result in more frequent bearing failures. Operating
companies must examine the probable true cost of labor and
materials before choosing lubrication systems.
At all times, reliability engineers must be familiar with the
grease path in grease-lubricated equipment. The double-shield-
ed, grease-lubricated bearing, as shown in FIG. 3, is in a housing
equipped with an open-drain pipe. There is no risk of over-pres-
suring the grease cavity. The spent grease migrates to the open-
drain pipe and forms a quasi-plug. This plug will be expelled
when the grease reservoir is replenished with fresh grease, and
a new plug will migrate into its place. Oil bleeds from the
grease reservoir past the annular gap between the shield and the
bearings inner ring, and enters into the path of the rolling ele-
ments by capillary action.
A third alternative involves applying grease with a traditional
grease gun. Note: Without the open-drain pipe (FIG. 3), pres-
surizing would occur. It is quite obvious that pressurizing the
grease could force the grease shield into contact with the roll-
ing elements. Tests done by Ed Nelson at Amocos Texas City,
Texas, refinery in 1980 confirmed that a grease gun forcing
grease into a non-vented bearing housing could produce a pres-
sure of 26,000 psi. Removing the shield is not the best solution,
and it will result in filling 100% of the spaces between rolling
elements. However, bearing manufacturers want grease to fill
only between 30% and 40% of the free space between rolling
elements. The shield should therefore face the grease cavity.
Again, applying pressure will cause the shield to get pushed into
the rolling elements. Heat will be generated, and the grease will
oxidize rapidly. Metal shavings may result from this contact.
Commendable efforts to prevent over-greasing are reflected
in FIG. 4, where the supplier provided an additional metering
plate to impede over-lubrication. At present, engineers still
argue about how much (actually, how little) grease can flow
through a shield when re-lubricating shielded bearings. Re-
member: The original design intent from the 1950s was to not
force even one gram of grease through the annular opening in
the time needed to refill the grease reservoir. Grease must stay
in the reservoir, and it is expected to slowly bleed miniscule
quantities of oil into the path of the bearings rolling elements.
2, 3
In reviewing FIG. 5, the key element is to understand and
to specify the grease path. Many plants may have 50 different
motor combinations from 10 or more different manufacturers.
The various motors can incorporate 15 different bearing styles
and sizes. Some bearings are single shielded with shields facing
right; single shielded, with shields facing left; double shielded;
FIG. 2. Outdoor storage with an oil-mist blanket is thought to provide
a 10:1 payback on average. Source: Total Lubrication Management,
Houston, Texas.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201463
Lubrication Practices
sealed (pre-filled but not refillable); open cross-flow; open and
same-side flow; same-side reservoir vented; same-side reservoir
non-vented; and so forth.
Mechanically superior electric motor designs very often
have self-relieving passages; these are built-in elements, as il-
lustrated in FIG. 5. All owner-purchasers must obviously specify
motor voltage, frame size, power, speed and service factor, but
only the BOC companies specify important lubrication details.
HPI companies specify the most appropriate means of lubrica-
tion for plant equipment and electric motors.
Basics can solve problems. Fortunately, most motor bear-
ing failures can be cured by simply understanding and applying
the basics. Properly applying the basics and properly teaching
them requires experienced teachers and willing students. For
management, it involves dealing with people. Ask for, and offer,
constructive comments and solid explanations.
Train your trainers and assess the experience level of plant
lubrication management managers. They should be able to
advise on component details and not just on the usual gener-
alities. Some maintenance organizations should make very tan-
gible changes or adjustments if their lubrication environment is
bogged down in fluff, or if the implementers keep jumping from
one trial-and-error attempt to the next one. While there is noth-
ing wrong with engaging competent outsiders, beware of those
contractors who have never really solved basic lube problems
and lack a full understanding of all underlying causes. They will
calculate how many strokes of a grease gun it takes to re-lubricate
a such-and-such bearing, but they contribute very little to failure
avoidance if they leave critical component details to others.
Inner cap
FIG. 3. Double-shielded, grease-lubricated bearing in a housing
equipped with an open-drain pipe. There is no risk of over-pressuring
the grease cavity. Oil bleeds from the grease and enters into the
actual bearing by capillary action.
FIG. 4. Double-shielded electric motor bearing. This motor
manufacturer prudently added a metering plate to forestall
events where pressurizing the grease cavity would deflect one of the
two bearing shields that could then contact the rolling elements.
Source: Reliance Electric Co., Cleveland, Ohio, 1960.
2, 3
FIG. 5. In grease-lubricated bearings, understanding or specifying
both the grease path and, in the lower illustration, the built-in grease
escape, will add much value to sound lubrication management.
Lubrication Practices
What are the options? Well, one approach would be to use
certain homogenous greases in electric motors and then simply
endure the more frequent bearing failures. Remember the old
adage: You can pay me now or pay me later, but pay you will.
Using SPALs with this grease vs. that grease are options 1 and
2. Using a grease gun is option 3, and doing nothing is option 4.
Option 4, doing nothing and waiting for random events
to hit, will be neither cheap nor safe. Which should bring us
back to understanding the merits of oil mist and also the need
for intellectual honesty: As professionals, we should resist the
urge to pass along distorted opinions about oil mist, rotating
machinery, grease lubrication methods, and anything else of
value. Voicing an uninformed opinion without labeling it as
such is a disservice to all stakeholders. Trial-and-error ap-
proaches and allowing opinions to masquerade as facts are
steps backward. They represent an even more serious danger
in the HPI where many fluids can be toxic, flammable, or a
threat to the environment.
Speak up. There should be ways to share concerns on lubrica-
tion practices to upper management to prevent colossal blun-
ders. If, as mature reliability professionals, we are confronted
with project demands that insist on the lowest as-built cost,
let us look at the possible consequences and communicate
them to managers in a responsible and quantitative way. Re-
member: All managers are entitled to hear the facts from reli-
ability professionals. The actual practice of professional ethics
requires pointing out the ultimate effects of taking backward
steps on equipment reliability and safety. Reasoned findings
must be properly communicated to managers. The plant man-
ager may not be a trained machinery engineer or lubrication
expert; however, this manager does need facts to ensure the re-
liability and safety of the complex. Managers need knowledge-
based support. Reliability professionals must take the lead in
the information chain. Advice must always be fact basedno
opinions. Aerospace decisions are not relying on opinions, and
neither should lubrication technology decisions in HPI plants.
Apply new knowledge and experiences. In a recent low-
budget case, a user with outstanding experience on nearly 20
plantwide oil-mist systems commissioned an additional large
chemical process unit. Money concerns led to the decision to
use the old lube application strategies. The irony is that, de-
cades earlier, the same user had found that the old lube appli-
cation strategies were out of harmony with reliability-focused
thinking. Now, contemplate the logistics of teaching, convey-
ing and supervising hundreds of employees. Consider telling
these employees that they can continue to perform preventive
maintenance on oil-mist lubricated pump sets rarely, if ever.
Then, think of trying to impress upon these employees that
lubrication issues in the newly constructed unit will have to
be handled and approached just as their grandfathers did in
the late 1950s.
Take courage; oil mist, the best and simplest motor lubri-
cation method, is both well-understood and readily available.
The future of oil mist is very bright. Several innovators are gain-
ing momentum on potentially trend-setting new single-point
oil-mist application modules. At present, plantwide oil-mist
systems serve an estimated 130,000 pumps and motors in the
petrochemical and related industries. Just as plantwide systems
were quite instrumental in shaping many owner-operators into
BOC performers, a future generation of single-point oil-mist
application modules will likely make an even larger impact
throughout other manufacturing industries. Some choose to
link a facilitys future maintenance performance to grease types
and grease-flow patterns and grease application skills. Whether
they will reach their professed reliability improvement goals
and related benchmarks remains to be seen. Chances are they
will find rough times ahead.
Bloch, H. P., Dry-sump oil-mist lubrication for electric motors, Hydrocarbon
Processing, March 1977.
Bloch, H. P., Practical Lubrication for Industrial Facilities, 2nd Ed., The Fairmont
Press, Inc., Lilburn, Georgia, 2009, pp. 259276.
Bloch, H. P. and A. R. Budris, Pump Users Handbook: Life Extension, 4th Ed., The
Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, Georgia, 2012, pp. 289293.
HEINZ P. BLOCH resides in Westminster, Colorado. His
professional career commenced in 1962 and included
long-term assignments as Exxon Chemicals regional
machinery specialist for the US. He has authored over
500 publications, among them 18 comprehensive
books on practical machinery management, failure
analysis, failure avoidance, compressors, steam
turbines, pumps, oil-mist lubrication and practical
lubrication for industry. Mr. Bloch holds BS and MS
degrees in mechanical engineering. He is an ASME
Life Fellow and maintains registration as a
Professional Engineer in New Jersey and Texas.
Select 156 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201465
Bonus Report
Lubrication Practices
M. BARNES and D. MORGAN, Des-Case Corp.,
Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Control moisture in wetted rotating equipment
In turbomachinery, water is one of the most deleterious con-
taminants. Left unchecked, moisture can severely reduce the
service life expectancy of oil-wetted rotating and reciprocating
components by as much as 30%70%, as shown in FIG. 1.
Often, water is regarded as an unavoidable consequence: the
cost of operating machinery in humid environments or in pro-
cess equipment that either uses water for cooling, or as steam
to power turbines. Several new techniques and maintenance
programs can prevent the ingress of water into lubricating oil
Water is a problem. Put simply, water is not a good lubri-
cant. With a viscosity about one tenth that of a typical turbine
oil at operating temperatures, water-contaminated lubrication
oil cannot maintain adequate film thickness to separate moving
surfaces under operating loads, speeds and temperatures. But
the issue goes way beyond simply the relative viscosity of oil
and water. The sudden change in pressure experienced as water
passes into the load zone of a plain bearing under hydrodynam-
ic conditions can cause flash vaporization, leading to cavitation
damage similar to that seen in hydraulic pumps.
In rolling contacts, water prevents the formation of the elas-
to-hydrodynamic oil film, resulting in increased stress. Such
conditions can lead to fatigue failure. In equipment that does
not run continuously, such as standby pumps, changes in tem-
perature when the pump cools down can cause the water to
come out of solution, resulting in fretting corrosion and other
free-water induced failure modes, as shown in FIG. 2.
How much water is too much? Surprisingly, the answer is very
little. Most damage is caused by water that is either free or emulsi-
fied, as opposed to dissolved in the oil. The solution is to ensure
that any water present is equal to or below the saturation point
of the oil at all operating temperatures. For turbine oil operating
around 120F, that level is 100 ppm150 ppm (0.01%0.015%)
or less. For standby equipment, the targets are even lower.
Prevention methods. Eliminating water down to these lev-
els can be difficult, but it is achievable. The first place to start
is to eliminate all sources of water ingression. These include
good seal management, as well as maintaining the integrity of
cooling water systems. In addition, one of the main sources of
ingression is airborne humidity that can enter through vents
and breathers. This can be easily controlled using desiccating
breathers. These breather types feature a silica gel-based hygro-
scopic media that attracts and removes airborne moisture, as
well as a particle-removing filter. Where larger systems are in
place, a dry gas (instrument air or nitrogen) head-space purge is
often more effective at removing airborne humidity.
Despite the effectiveness of desiccating breathers, water can
still get into the oil through seals and other points of ingress.
Any contamination control policy should include the ability
to filter water from the oil. While removing particles with me-
chanical filtration is straightforward, removing water from oil is
more complicated.
Gravity separation. Perhaps the simplest method is either
gravity separation or using coalescing media. Both meth-
ods work on the principle that oil and water do not like to
Journal bearings
Rolling-element bearings
50 100 250 500
Water content in oil, ppm




1,000 2,500 5,000
FIG. 1. The impact of water content on bearing life.
FIG. 2. Bearing corrosion caused by static water.
66JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Lubrication Practices
mix. However, while they can be effective at removing large
amounts of water, they cannot remove water below the oils
saturation point. Perhaps one of the oldest technologies used
to remove water down to low levels is the centrifuge. A simple
principle, based on the difference in specific gravity and polar-
ity of oil and water, centrifuges have been used successfully in
numerous industries for many years.
New separation methods. A new trend is a move from cen-
trifugal separators to vacuum dehydrators. This is due to sever-
al reasons. First, vacuum dehydrators can remove water down
to much lower levels than a centrifuge. In many cases, vacuum
dehydrators can reach less than 10% of the oils relative hu-
midity. Second, as turbine oil formulations have changed with
the introduction of more stable Group II and III basestocks,
the demulsibility of fully formulated turbine oilsthe ability
of oil and water to separatehas changed significantly, with
Group II lubricants being less ready to shed water than their
older Group I cousins.
While vacuum dehydrators have been around
for a while, their reputation has been somewhat tar-
nished by operational difficulties. However, with the
next-generation vacuum dehydrators, many former
problems have been resolved, thus making them a
very effective and user-friendly way to control water
down to very low levels.
Vacuum dehydration equipment extracts water
from lubricating oil by boiling or vaporizing that
water. The concept is based on vapor pressure in
which water boils at a lower temperature when exposed to
vacuum. All vacuum dehydration systems have always worked
on this principle. These systems have traditionally been some-
what difficult to operate. The complex technology required to
create the right conditions to boil that water out of the oil is
not easily understood. It is often said that a vacuum dehydra-
tion system is a complex machine, but that it performs a very
simple processboiling water.
The operation of vacuum dehydrators has improved through
automatic controls. Only a few adjustments are done by the op-
erators. This automation has improved operation. On most vac-
uum systems built today, the operator only needs to press start,
adjust the flowrate, and adjust the vacuum level to dehydrate oil.
Next-generation vacuum dehydration equipment is more
efficient, with the application of newer, more modern vacuum
pumps. One of the most important features of any vacuum
dehydrator is the vacuum pump, and the pressure level achiev-
able and maintained by the pump. Newer vacuum pumps are
capable of much lower pressure levels with less maintenance, as
shown in FIG. 3. These units use a dry-running claw-style pump
that achieves pressures as low as 37 torr, or 28.5 in Hg (gauge).
Another improvement is the vacuum tower media. Modern
vacuum systems use a permanent dispersion media, usually a
stainless steel (SS) tower packing material such as saddle rings.
Water is effectively removed from oil only when the oil is in a
thin layer. The purpose of any dispersion media is to allow for as
much surface area as possible to create this thin oil layer. In the
past, many systems incorporated dispersion elements made of fi-
berglass or SS mesh. These dispersion elements would often clog
with debris, requiring the operator to open the vacuum chamber
and change out the elements. Systems designed to use perma-
nent dispersion media can eliminate the need to enter the vac-
uum chamber at all, as this media type will not plug or degrade,
and it does not require cleaning or maintenance (FIG. 4). The
impact of water on oil-wetted equipment cannot be overstated.
Water-free machines can have long service lives. Small amounts
of water can result in a very significant rate of early failure.
MARK BARNES, vice president of reliability services, has been an active consultant
and educator in the area of maintenance and reliability for more than 17 years. He
has worked with clients around the world to design and implement lubrication
improvement plans.
DENNIS MORGAN, vice president of technical services, has more than 20 years
of experience both in management and with industrial equipment. In 2010, he
authored the book, Basic Principles of Vacuum Dehydration. His expertise ranges
from transformer insulating oil dehydration and degasification to lubricating oil
dehydration, oil purification design and strategy and depth filtration technology.
Water mitigation is possible simply by using
appropriate seal management, applying
deliquescent head space management
(breathers and headspace purge) and next-
generation vacuum dehydrator technology.
FIG. 3. An example of a modern low-maintenance vacuum pump. This
pump only requires maintenance once per year and achieves pressure
(vacuum) as low as 37 torr (28.5 in Hg by gauge).
FIG. 4. An example of permanent dispersion media in a vacuum tower.
This material is a SS saddle ring that offers approximately 65 ft
surface area for each cubic foot of media and requires no maintenance.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201467
Bonus Report
Lubrication Practices
K. G. KROGER, Puradyn Filter Technologies,
Boynton Beach, Florida
Improve quality of lubricating fluids via filtration
Micro-sized dust particles, along with water, can ruin the
best lubricating fluids. Contamination of lubricating fluids can
occur due to the byproducts of combustion, metal wear, oxi-
dation and more. To keep rotating equipment operating with
higher reliability, more filtration systems and maintenance are
proactive practices.
Bypassing the high cost of oil-related maintenance.
Due to the ultra-competitive global marketplace, proper up-
keep and maintenance of hydrocarbon processing equipment
can mean the difference between profits and losses. This fact is
critical for processors to maintain best practices as it relates to
the performance and care of their engines. The performance of
each engine is based on the type of application, individual age,
location, use, load, fuel and modifications to the equipment.
One element that is common to all process equipment is the
use of oil to lubricate, cool and seal the engine. Just by address-
ing the lube oil, engine maintenance can be greatly simplified.
Bad actors for oils. The source of the contaminant for oil
systems is important; however, the main issue is the loss of lu-
brication by the oil even with additions. Even over a short time,
allowing particle contamination to accumulate can restrict oil
flow, thus contributing to increased wear through reduced lu-
brication. All of these factors increase friction within the en-
gine, causing reduced efficiency and performance. Unavailable
process equipment can lead to higher operating costs, which
are compounded by associated expenses for unplanned mainte-
nance and engine replacement.
Bypass oil filtration technology can allow engine lubricating
and hydraulic oil to remain viable for extended periods by divert-
ing a small amount of lube oil out of the engine, cleaning it of im-
purities and returning it back to the engine. The result is an engine
running on continuously clean oil and a safe extension of the oil
life. Once a successful bypass filtration program is implemented,
most companies find that indirect savings from the program
such as reduced oil-handling logistics, downtime, reduced com-
ponent repairs, and extension of life to overhaulsignificantly
outperform the direct savings from the safe extension of oil life.
Oil analysis is another vital part of good bypass maintenance
protocol. Such programs enable diagnosing the condition of the
oil. This is already an important method for most major equip-
ment users. Oil sampling should always be considered a most
effective tool to monitor the condition of the oil for many fac-
tors, including viscosity, wear metals, additives, contamination
and physical properties.
When using bypass oil filtration technology to maintain oil
cleanliness in conjunction with oil analysis, operating com-
panies will improve operations and reduce unplanned main-
FIG. 1. Installing a bypass oil filter onto the engine.
FIG. 2. Simple installation of the bypass oil filtration system.
68JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Lubrication Practices
tenance. Instead of having to stop for oil-related maintenance
issues, facilities can safely and significantly extend the time be-
tween oil drains and overhauls, and reduce the quantity of new
oil purchases by as much as 90%.
In assessing bypass filtration products for equipment, the
three main reasons that the oil has to be changed should be
evaluated. They include 1) the removal of solid contaminant
to below 1 micron, 2) the elimination of liquid and gaseous
contaminants and 3) the replenishment of base additives (in
engine oil) to maintain the oils chemical balance.
Case study. One natural gas processor has been using bypass
oil filtration and oil analysis for 8+ years as a way to increase
time to overhaul and greatly reduce the lifecycle cost of the en-
gine. This fleet comprises of 61 natural gas compressors and
runs 24/7. At the first overhaul interval after installing a bypass
oil filtration system, the engine was torn down and the com-
ponents inspected. Management was impressed by the cleanli-
ness of the engine to the point that overhaul intervals, on aver-
age, have now been extended by 25% or 10,000 hours.
Cost savings. The cost for bypass filtration is cost-effective
when compared to the total cost of new oil replacement, down-
time, labor and engine overhauls. The average cost of the by-
pass unit, along with the replacement filter elements, and the
oil analysis program for an engine can be covered in approxi-
mately two months of operation. Bypass oil filtration technol-
ogy, when used with oil analysis, provides the ideal synergy for
combining engine productivity and economic efficiency.
Award winning technology for sulphur removal
and sulphur recovery from gas streams. Take the
quick scan at www.paqell.com/scan and receive
instant feedback about how THIOPAQ O&G technology
matches with your desulphurisation requirements!
FIG. 3. Compact size of the filter facilitates installation
in many applications.
Select 157 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201469
Plant Design
M. TOGHRAEI, Engrowth Training,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Wide design margins do not improve engineering
Engineers use design and safety factors in sizing and speci-
fying instrumentation or major process equipment, such as
pumps, valves and compressors. Design factors are applied
to cover the uncertainty in piping and equipment calcula-
tions. Such practices can contribute to over-design and can
negatively affect performance of the process unit, resulting in
higher costs. Several case histories investigate how over-design
factors have caused problems in the operations of pumps, heat
exchangers and control valves.
Design factors are generally applied to one or more initial
or middle parameters during the front-end engineering design
(FEED) stage. Such factors are used in sizing a piece of equip-
ment, instrumentation, a process unit, or even the entire plant.
Design factors are not the same as safety factors or the manu-
facturers tolerance values. Safety measures are defined more
specifically within parameters outside of the design factor. It is
unwise to confuse the differing concepts.
The design factor is not necessarily a number between one
and two. Such factors can be less than one and, at times, greater
than two. The end result is designing a unit item or piece of
equipment with extra capacity. In this application, capacity
does not necessarily refer to flowrate. The extra capacity could
be a piece of equipment with the ability to handle a higher
flowrate or an instrument with the ability to handle higher
temperatures. Therefore, when specifying a design factor, its
magnitude, as well as the parameter to which it is applied, must
be definedfor example, a design factor of 10% on pressure.
In this article, the phrases more aggressive or less aggres-
sive when referring to design factors will be used in place of
bigger or smaller magnitudes. Bigger does not always
equate with more aggressive within the context of design fac-
tors to apply.
Parameters affecting the design factor. The main reason
for applying design factors is to cover the uncertainty from cal-
culations. This uncertainty is a function of the nature of the
phenomena, parameters used and the calculation methodol-
ogy. However, the magnitude of the design factorwhich re-
sulted from the listed parameterscan be limited by the per-
formance sensitivity of the equipment, the economy and the
cost sensitivity for equipment.
Design factors are defined by the parameters and the phe-
nomenon they relate to. The four well-established parameters
are flowrate, level, pressure and temperature. These examples
are associated with lower design factors, rarely exceeding 30%.
This factor more closely approaches 10%25% for flowrates of
small, inexpensive equipment, and is usually < 10% for larger
units. This number will be even smaller in the cases where the
flowrate is controlled, but higher when the flow originates
from not fully understood sources, such as an oil reservoir in
upstream oil extraction plants.
Process consideration. For more complicated parameters
such as pH in a neutralization process or a corrosion rate or the
particle size in a precipitation operation, more aggressive de-
sign factors should be considered. As a general rule, the design
factors on hydraulic system parameters are less aggressive than
those used on petrochemical/chemical applications, and even
less aggressive than those of biological systems. For example, in
a gravity separator, the falling rate of a particle can be assumed
as 50% of the terminal velocity of the particle. In designing a
small reactor, the residence time could be presumed to be dou-
ble that of the reaction time.
Calculation methods. The other parameter defining the
design factor is the calculation procedure. A design procedure
based on a numerical method may need a smaller design factor
than a non-numerical method. Hydraulic calculations regard-
ing fluid pressure loss in a pipe, based on implicit friction fac-
tors (such as the ColebrookWhite equation), may need less-
aggressive design factors than a procedure based on explicit
friction factors; or hydraulic calculations based on 2K-factors
may require less-aggressive design factors due to the equilib-
rium length method.
Limiting parameters. Among the items limiting design fac-
tors, the first one is equipment performance sensitivity. If the
performance of a hypothetical piece of equipment deterio-
rates severely with a 7% capacity increase, then selecting a ca-
pacity design factor higher than 7% would not be wise.
The second limiting item is the economic sensitivity.
More aggressive design factors for larger (and expensive)
pieces of equipment are difficult to justify. From a purely eco-
nomical point of view, the resulting extra capacity is useless
and wasteful.
From a theoretical viewpoint, deciding the magnitude of
the design factor requires an economic sensitivity analysis.
Where technical criteria ask for a 15% design factor on a spe-
cific piece of equipment and it is accepted, then the resulting
cost increase up to 15% could be approved by the stakehold-
70JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Plant Design
ers. This approval, however, may be retracted if the extra cost
exceeds 50%. Such exponential cost increases could be caused
by many factors, including unavailability of required manu-
facturing shops, transportation limitations or expenses, or the
need to purchase field-fabricated items because the size of the
equipment exceeds the limits for shop-manufactured items.
Likewise, a low/under-design factor can also present plant
hazards. This risklike any other riskis a function of the
frequency of the hazardous event and the consequence of this
event occurring. A larger hazard frequency or a more severe
potential consequence may force incorporating very aggres-
sive design factors. Sometimes, a large design margin for pres-
sure can be justified. Conversely, an overly aggressive design
factor is economically inefficient.
Applying design factors. The project engineer should be
aware at the calculation stage when design factors should be
applied. For example, it is very popular to apply a design factor
of 10% on the flowrate for pumps. Yet, some companies use a
20% design factor on the resulting head. Remember: Head is
proportional to the flowrate to the power of 1.85 in turbulent
regimes. However, the flaw lies in that not all of the head loss
in a flow circuit is caused by friction loss; a portion of the head
loss is due to the difference between the head of the liquid at
the destination and the source.
Custom-made vs. off-the-shelf. Other issues arise when
the design specifies custom-made equipment. Since custom-
made equipment are not always available in all sizes and capac-
ities, companies can take two different approaches regarding
the design factor. First, the design will be completed, and the
design factor will come into play (automatically) at the point
of specifying the unit, i.e., when a standard size larger than the
calculated size should be purchased. In this approach, the ca-
pacity of the equipment will be checked to ensure that a suf-
ficient margin for the design factor is available or that a larger
standard equipment size should be purchased. The second
approach, which is less common, involves applying the design
factor before the design process (FEED), and then selecting the
nextlargeravailable size of equipment. This may lead to an
unnecessarily large capacity due to the design factor.
Accumulation. Another important issue regarding the design
factor could be called the accumulation of the design factors.
During the design of a piece of equipment, it is common for a
single design to pass through a series of different disciplines
and the vendor; this work process has the potential for mul-
tiple applications of design factors, and the individual in charge
of the total design must ensure that the design factor is appro-
priate and not excessive.
Several examples demonstrate how design factors can adverse-
ly affect the function of process equipment or the entire facility.
Containers. Increasing the size of storage tanks and vessels
will make the tank larger and increase the residence time. The
obvious drawback is wasting money due to a tank design with
an unnecessarily high capacity, but there also may be some pro-
cess issues present as well. For example, sometimes sensitive
fluids cannot tolerate container oversizing. A famous example
of this condition is perishable foods such as milk. The other ex-
ample is potable water, which cannot be stored in overly large
tanks. Long storage of potable water provides an ideal habitat
for bacteria, algae and other microorganisms.
For non-storage containers, which include unit operation con-
tainers and reactors, volume has a vital role. For example, a grav-
ity separator with an excessive design factor will see a much lower
flowrate during the actual operation, which may seem desirable
since the increased residence time is beneficial for a gravity sepa-
ration. However, the magnitude of flow also defines the hydraulic
behavior inside of the container. Result: The lower internal flow
streams will not be what the design anticipated. Even the location
of dead zones may be altered due to the unexpected change.
Pumps. It is very common to size a pump based on a design
flowrate of 10% more than the normal (instantaneous) flowrate.
Since it is generally expected that centrifugal pumps operate
at an efficiency of B 25% to 30% of the best efficiency point
(BEP), the pump curve shape may force the designer to use a
lower design factor to ensure that the pump is always working
within the suitable window.
In FIG. 1, Point 1 is the normal operating point on a system
(blue curve). This normal operating point shifted to Point 2 by
adding an overly conservative design factor to the flowrate and
a pump with the red system curve bought for this applica-
tion. During the operation, to transpose the operating point on
the pump curve, a control valve may shift the system curve to
the blue dashed curve by increasing the system pressure drop,
thus decreasing the flowrate. This new operating point, Point
3, does not land necessarily on a favorable point of the pump
curve, which is a point with good pump efficiency. A variable
speed drive (VSD) cannot help because Point 1 is below the
reach of the VSD.
The decision regarding temperature for the pump calcula-
tions is the other issue. The liquid temperature for the head
calculation is usually the minimum liquid temperature with
no margin, due to the viscosities of the liquids that are at lower
temperatures and, therefore, require higher head.
For net positive suction head absolute (NPSHa) calculations,
the maximum liquid temperature with no margin can be used,
System curve
Real system point
Selected system point
FIG. 1. Pump head curves with varying design factors.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201471
Plant Design
since the vapor pressures of the liquids are higher at higher tem-
peratures that lead to more conservative NPSHa calculations.
However, the design pressure and temperature for construction
material of pumps use with noticable design factors. The conse-
quence of using a less-aggressive design factor could be losing an
expensive pump, which is probably a non-tolerable risk.
For the last point, the designer should be aware of the con-
sequences of inappropriate design factors on centrifugal pumps
vs. positive displacement (PD) pumps. The PD pumps have
vertical pump curves, so their efficiency is not affected by
changes in flowratethus, a larger design factor will not affect
the pumps performance. However, changing/decreasing the
flowrate of PD pumps during the operation may require a more
complex control system.
Control valves. The design process of a control valve starts
with the specification of upstream and downstream pressures
at three different flowrates: minimum, normal and maximum.
Considering overly aggressive design factors for the maximum
and minimum flowrates will lead to a control valve with a wide
rangeability. Published rangeability for control valves de-
pends on the valve type and could range from 10:1 to 50:1 for
different control valves.
Specifying a wide range for a control valve may force the in-
strumentation and control engineer to implement two parallel
control valves in a split-control loop, instead of a simple control
valve arrangement.
An overly large rangeability may not force the engineer to
select two parallel control valves, but this is still not a good
practice. Using a high-range control valve in a service with a
narrow flow range hinders operation and control loop features.
In such cases, a few millimeters travel of control valve stem will
change the flowrate through the valve substantially. It is unlike-
ly for such a control valve to show good controllability.
Heat exchangers. There are two main factors regarding heat
exchangers to ensure good operation. First, heat-transfer duty
along with a suitable hydraulic regime is often overlooked. Us-
ing less-aggressive design factors on flowrates (and/or stream
temperatures) may result in low heat duty of a heat exchanger.
Conversely, using more-aggressive design factors could be con-
sidered a good investment if the extra cost is not insurmount-
able. However, unused capacity in a heat exchanger may impact
the hydraulic regime of the heat exchanger and, subsequently,
the heat duty.
Pressure safety valves. For pressure safety valves (PSVs),
two main parameters are used to design the valvesset pressure
and release flowrate. The PSV set pressure may be a number as
large as the maximum allowable operating pressure (or design
pressure) of the container. In a few cases, it can be higher. Se-
lecting any set pressure smaller than the design pressure means
there is untapped potential in the capabilities of the container.
The release rate is calculated based on the governing sce-
nario to select the orifice size of the PSV. Meanwhile, using
less-conservative approaches in the assumptions for the re-
lease rate calculations will lead to overly small PSVs that cannot
work properly to protect the container. Overly conservative ap-
proaches will also move the PSV into unsafe operations, as a
PSV with an overly large orifice could experience chattering
(frequent opening and fully closing) and/or fluttering (open-
ing and partial closing) during operation. The PSV, which is
sized on a release rate of 40% or more than the actual volume,
may be exposed to chattering or fluttering. This unsteady op-
eration will cause fatigue in the PSV disc and internals, and ul-
timately result in premature breakage.
Perhaps the only case in which a larger design release rate
is acceptable is when a fire is the governing scenario, and the
other scenarios generate much lower release rates. During a
fire scenario, the concern for chattering, fatigue and premature
fractures will be minor compared to other concerns.
Applying overly aggressive design factors does not improve
performance. They could potentially decrease the quality of
equipment or instrumental performance and result in avoid-
able damage.

Altmann, W., Practical process control for engineers and technicians, Newnes,
2005, Chapter 3.

Hellemans, M., The Safety Relief Valve Handbook: Design and Use of Process Safety
Valves to ASME and International Codes and Standards, Butterworth-Heinemann,
2007, p. 212.
MOHAMMAD TOGHRAEI is an instructor and consultant with Engrowth Training.
He has over 20 years of experience in the field of industrial water treatment.
His main expertise is in the treatment of wastewater from oil and petrochemical
complexes. He holds a BS degree in chemical engineering and an MS degree
in environmental engineering.
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Decrease tube metal temperature in vacuum heaters
In a Saudi Aramco refinery, a vacuum furnace was found
to be operating at a high tube metal temperature (TMT) and
was forced to shut down before the normal run length of five
years. The coke laydown was also found to be substantial. An
evaluation revealed that the furnace outlet temperature and
pressure were operating at much higher values, compared to
the design values, to maintain the same flash zone conditions
at the vacuum tower.
This scenario was the result of a change in furnace location,
which increased the transfer line length by 200 meters (m).
The increase in transfer line length resulted in an additional
pressure drop of 120 millimeters (mm) of mercury, which
increased the furnace outlet temperature requirement for the
same flash zone conditions in the vacuum column.
Various options for reducing the TMT of the vacuum heater,
such as changing the transfer line size and adding extra surface
area in the radiation and convection sections, were examined.
The best option generally depends on the limitations under
which the heater operates with regard to the process require-
ments and the downstream equipment limitations and flexibil-
ity. Vendor-developed heater models are used to evaluate the
various options.
System description. FIG. 1 shows the vacuum transfer line ar-
rangement. The existing heater is a horizontal-tube, box-type
heater with a convection section. There are four process pass-
estwo on each radiant wall. Process passes from the convec-
tion section enter at the top of the radiant section and exit close
to the radiant floor. The heaters absorbed duty for the design
condition is 13.86 million kilocalories per hour (MMkcal/hr),
and the fired duty is 17.14 MMkcal/hr (i.e., 100% fuel gas firing).
From the outlet, radiant tube sizes are 10-inch (in.), 8-in.,
6-in. and 5-in. nominal pipe size (NPS), and all convection sec-
tion tubes are 5-in. NPS. In the convection section, there are
three bare rows and seven studded rows (all 5-in. NPS tubes).
The convection section is for process service only. All radiant and
convection tubes are 9Cr-1Mo steel material, schedule 40 thick-
ness. Eight upward-firing burners are arranged at the center of the
radiant floor. The burners are of the dual-firing type, although
they no longer fire fuel oil.
The expected TMT under clean conditions is 506C; for
a coke thickness of 3 mm and a corrosion allowance of 3 mm,
the design TMT is 621C. This temperature is based on a rup-
ture pressure of 9.3 kg/cm
and a corrosion allowance of 3 mm.
As per the American Petroleum Institute (API) standard 530,
9Cr-1Mo steel material can withstand temperatures up to 705C.
The vacuum heater was installed in 2003 to replace the
original heater. The transfer line size of the original heater was
36 in. During the replacement of the vacuum heater, the trans-
fer line was changed from 36 in. to 48 in.; however, a nozzle
size similar to the transfer line size could not be installed due
to construction issues. Consequently, a 48 in.36 in. reducer
was installed, connecting the new and old transfer lines closer
to the column.
Performance of existing operation. The feed composition
of the reduced crude oil (RCO) feedstock is shown in TABLE 1.
The furnace heat release is calculated based on fuel gas
pressure and burner capacity (i.e., pressure curves). This
calculation has been cross-checked with the fuel gas flow-
rate. The fired duty was found to be 20 MMkcal/hr, while
the average radiant flux, based on absorbed duty, was cal-
culated to be closer to the design duty of 31.5 kW/m
Taking these calculations into consideration, there is no scope
for increasing the firing rate without adding more area in the
radiant section.
The heater was found to be operating at approximately 108%
of the throughput, approximately 112% of the process duty and
approximately 116% of the firing rate of the original heater. The
higher load was presumed to be the main reason for the higher
TMT and the high coking rate.
The heater stack damper was found to be operating at 95% of
the open position, and the arch draft was 2.5 mm of water (H
The excess air was back-calculated from excess oxygen at 3.25%
in the flue gas, which was found to be 16.7 vol% (10% for the
Heater outlet operating
P = 295 mmHg
T = 414C
TMT (SOR) design
Heater outlet design
P = 176 mmHg
T = 407C
P = 35 mmHg
T = 393C
P = 1,030 mmHg
T = 356C
To vacuum ejector
Vacuum tower
5 in. 5 in.
16 in.
48 in.
36 in.
16 in. 10 in.
10 in.
FIG. 1. Schematic of a vacuum transfer line at a Saudi Aramco refinery.
74JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Refining Developments
design calculation). Under existing excess air conditions, there is
a limited margin for increasing the firing rate without needing to
modify the heater stack to satisfy the draft requirement.
Improving furnace performance. Several options have
been considered to raise the performance of the heater, includ-
ing increasing the run length, improving the draft and increas-
ing the firing rate without exceeding the radiant flux limit.
These options are discussed below.
Adding radiant surface area. Adding heat transfer surface
area will directly reduce the firebox temperature and the average
flux density to the tubes. This, in turn, will reduce the TMT and
the coking rate. The firing rate can also be reduced with higher
fuel efficiency, due to the increased heating surface. The addi-
tion of eight tubes in the section between the convection and
radiant sections shows that the TMT can be decreased by 8C.
TABLE 2 provides a comparison of the present operating case
and the proposed modification discussed above. Note: The
base case has been adjusted to meet 10% excess air (design
conditions), while operating with the current load. When addi-
tional draft is shown as negative, it implies that the existing stack
height is sufficient, while a positive increase in draft translates to
increased stack height for the same damper opening.
Adding convection surface area. Adding two rows of con-
vection tubes has been studied as a means of shifting part of
the process duty from the radiant section to the convection
section. TABLE 3 provides a comparison of this option with the
base-case scenario.
Since the addition of convection surface area increases the
pressure drop on the flue gas side, the required draft is high-
er. However, the required draft is already limited by the stack
height, and the damper opening is close to 95%, so this option
was not pursued further.
Extending convection surface tubes. The lowest three
rows (shield rows) of the 12 tubes in the convection section are
bare tubes. The present operating maximum stud temperature is
already close to the design temperature. Since adding studs will
further increase the temperature, this option was not pursued.
Converting natural-draft furnace to forced-draft. Adding
a forced-draft fan in the furnace will neither reduce the firing,
nor provide more draft. Moreover, this option requires extra
ducting and additional plot area. As a result, this option was not
investigated in detail.
Converting natural-draft furnace to induced-draft.
Adding an induced-draft fan in the furnace will provide the
necessary draft at the heater and allow for the possibility of
more firing, although it will not reduce the TMT. This option
requires extra ducting, arrangement of space and arrangement
of the steel structure; consequently, this option was not inves-
tigated in detail.
Converting natural-draft furnace to balanced-draft.
Introducing a complete air preheat system has the following
consequences: For the same process duty, it will significantly
increase the fuel efficiency, therefore reducing fuel gas firing.
However, due to the higher combustion air temperature, it will
increase the firebox temperature and raise the TMT. Since the
furnace is already limited by high skin temperature, and since
TABLE 1. Boiling point (BP) distribution of reduced crude oil
Recovered mass, % BP, F Recovered mass, % BP, F
Initial BP 577.8 45 1,035.4
5 714.8 50 1,073.6
10 776.2 55 1,115.4
15 820 60 1,161.6
20 857.4 65 1,213.6
25 891.8 70 1,278.6
30 925.8 75 1,347.4
35 960.6 76.9 1,382
40 997.2
TABLE 2. Comparison between present and proposed
operating cases
Simulated base
case (adjusted to
present operation)
Flowrate to heater, kg/hr 32,900 329,000
Heater inlet/outlet temperature, C 356/413 356/413
Heater inlet/outlet pressure, kg/cm
1.6/0.4 1.6/0.4
Total process duty, Gcal/hr 15.6 15.6
Calculated maximum TMT, C 592 584
Fuel ef ciency, % 79.5 79.6
Extra draft, mm H
O 3 (less) 3 (less)
TABLE 3. Comparison of convection tubes option
with base-case scenario
Simulated base
case (adjusted to
present operation)
of convection
tubes option
Flowrate to heater, kg/hr 329,000 329,000
Heater inlet/outlet temperature, C 356/413 356/413
Heater inlet/outlet pressure, kg/cm
1.6/0.4 1.6/0.4
Total process duty, Gcal/hr 15.6 15.6
Calculated maximum TMT, C 592 589
Calculated fuel ef ciency, % 79.5 81
Extra draft, mm H
O 3 (less) +1 (more)
TABLE 4. Comparison of increased transfer line size option
with base-case scenario
Simulated base
case (adjusted to
present operation)
transfer line
size option
Flowrate to heater, kg/hr 329,000 329,000
Heater inlet/outlet temperature, C 356/413 356/409
Heater inlet/outlet pressure, kg/cm
1.6/0.4 1.6/0.25
Total process duty, Gcal/hr 15.6 15.6
Calculated maximum TMT, C 592 586
Calculated fuel ef ciency, % 79.5 79.5
Extra draft, mm H
O 3 (less) 3 (less)
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201475
Refining Developments
this option requires extra ducting, plot space and arrangement
of the steel structure, this method is not recommended.
Increasing the transfer line size. Since the pressure and
temperature in the flash zone is fixed for a given feed, the en-
thalpy is also fixed. There is no enthalpy change in the vacuum
transfer line; therefore, the enthalpy at the furnace outlet should
be the same as in the flash zone.
Increasing the transfer line size reduces the pressure drop,
which calls for a lower furnace outlet temperature for the same
enthalpy. This decrease in bulk temperature lowers the TMT,
along with the coking rate. Coking is caused by high tempera-
ture and low residence time for a given feed. By increasing the
transfer line size and raising the column nozzle size to 60 in., the
TMT is expected to be lowered. TABLE 4 provides an overview
of the projected results.
While the reduction in TMT is approximately 6C, the heat-
er outlet pressure is expected to be 0.25 kg/cm
, or a reduction
of 63 mm, due to the increased transfer line size. This, in turn,
reduces the coil outlet temperature by 6C. In all previous cases,
the vapor at the heater outlet was around 9%, and the increase in
the transfer line size raised the amount of vapor to 17%.
Velocity steam and vacuum tower debottlenecking. Anoth-
er way to reduce coke formation is to increase the velocity (and,
therefore, the residence time) by adding steam. FIG. 2 shows a
graph of TMT vs. steam flow. For the purposes of this study, 800-
kg/hr steam was used. This option depends largely on the avail-
ability of additional capacity on the vacuum column overhead
steam jet ejectors. Although this will definitely lead to a decrease
in TMT, the vapor at the heater outlet will be approximately 14%.
It is evident that increased transfer line size, along with ex-
tra radiation surface area and coil steam injection, provides the
best solution to reduce the TMT and increase vaporization while
marginally raising heater efficiency. TABLE 5 summarizes this op-
tion as compared to the base-case scenario. With this option, the
TMT drops by 18C, reducing the coke buildup within the heat-
er tubes and extending the unit run length by about nine months.
However, with the injection of steam, the pressure at the
heater inlet will increase. The maximum design temperature
was calculated for the maximum expected pressure of 4 kg/cm
(i.e., the pressure relief valve set pressure in the vacuum column,
plus the transfer line and column pressure drop).
The calculated maximum TMT for a 3-mm corrosion allow-
ance, with a pressure of 4 kg/cm
g for convection tubes of sched-
ule 40 thickness, is 675C. Although the TMT can be stretched
from 621C for a tube life of 100,000 hours during end-of-run
conditions, caution is advised, as this circumstance depends on
the actual thickness of the tubes. The run length of the heater
can be further increased by one year, if allowable TMT is raised
from 621C to 650C for the same tube life of 100,000 hours.
Takeaway. In summary, reduction of TMT can be achieved with
several different approaches involving modifications within the
heater box, outside of the heater box, or a combination of both. In
cases where the transfer length is significant, a change in the trans-
fer line size can have a marked effect on the heater tube TMT.
While the best solution in the above case involves a combi-
nation of changing the transfer line size, steam injection and the
addition of tubes in the radiant zone, a detailed mechanical in-
tegrity analysis should be carried out at the vacuum column in-
let nozzle area to confirm the viability of the nozzle size increase
from 36 in. to 68 in.
Subsequently, as an interim solution, velocity steam can be
introduced to the heater, with an increase in radiant heat transfer
area, thereby alleviating the TMT issue in the heater. A detailed
analysis is being performed to further optimize the system and
implement the most techno-economic solution available.
Process peak tube temperature trend
last seven radiant tubes (No. 1 is heater
No. 1
Operation-with steam
No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5 No. 6 No. 7
FIG. 2. TMT vs. steam flow.
TABLE 5. Comparison of velocity steam and vacuum tower
debottlenecking option with base-case scenario
Simulated base
case (adjusted to
current operation)
Increased radiant
area, plus increased
transfer line, plus
addition of velocity
steam option
Flowrate to heater, kg/hr 329,000 329,000 + 820
Heater inlet/outlet
temperature, C
356/413 356/406
Heater inlet/outlet
pressure, kg/cm
1.6/0.4 4.05/0.25
Total process duty, Gcal/hr 15.6 15.6
Calculated maximum TMT, C 592 574
Calculated fuel ef ciency, % 79.5 79.6
Extra draft, mm H
O 3 (less) 3 (less)
SAMIT ROY is an engineering consultant at Saudi Aramcos downstream process
engineering division. A chemical engineering graduate, he has more than 33
years of experience in process engineering and technical services. His experience
includes 21 years in Saudi Aramco refining and engineering services and 12 years at
Indian refineries. He has worked at most refinery units associated with distillation,
hydroprocessing and gas treating.
EDWIN BRIGHT has over 17 years of experience in the petroleum refining industry.
At the time of authorship of this article, Mr. Bright was the distillation specialist with
Saudi Aramco. He is presently working as a distillation technologist with Shell. Mr.
Bright has also worked for Reliance Industries, Indian Oil Corp., ATV Petrochemicals
and Foster Wheeler India Ltd. He holds a bachelors degree in chemical engineering
and a masters degree in petroleum refining and petrochemicals from Anna
University in Chennai, India. He also holds a masters degree in management from
the Asian Institute of Management in Manila.
VINOD RAMASESHAN has over 19 years of experience in the petroleum refining
industry. Before joining Saudi Aramco, he worked with UOP Ltd. and Mangalore
Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. Mr. Ramaseshan has been involved with
commissioning, operating, troubleshooting and optimizing new and revamped
hydrocracking and hydrotreating units in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
He holds a masters degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of
Technology in Bombay, India, and is a chartered engineer in the UK.
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Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201477
Refining Developments
S. M. STANTON, Sofraser, Villemandeur, France
Optimize viscosity control in refining operations
Petroleum is one of the most important hydrocarbons in
the global marketplace. It remains the primary source for liquid
and transportation fuels, and it is the building block for prod-
uct manufacturing in the polymerization industry.
Viscosity is a crucial fluid characteristic for many reasons. It
can be a functional property, or it can be correlated to an exclu-
sive attribute. Viscosity can be related to utilization efficiency.
More importantly, viscosity can be one indication of how a flu-
id is handledpumped, filtered, stirred, etc. Like most physi-
cal properties, viscosity is measured with laboratory analyzers
or directly inline (FIG. 1). New insight regarding viscosity can
improve downstream petroleum-related operations.
Refining. The first step in the refining process is separating
crude oil into distinct streams or products via thermal distilla-
tion. The new hydrocarbon streams undergo further processing
by other unit operations, such as cracking, reforming, alkyla-
tion, polymerization and isomerization. Heavy residual streams
[heavy fuel oil (HFO), low added-value products] are blended
by mixing or adding solvents. This action improves the value
of the heavy residual stream by conversion to lighter products.
Viscosity control allows for the precise blending operations
for final transportation fuels and liquid products. For example,
the marine industry has set requirements for the maximum
residue concentration in bunker fuel.
Fuel-product specifications. Petroleum refining consists of
complex procedures that yield consumable goods such as bitu-
men, lubricants, heating oil, diesel and aviation fuels. Each final
product is characterized by specific properties, one of which is
the viscosity value.
The viscosity index, according to ASTM D2270-04, is a
widely used and accepted laboratory measure of viscosity
variation due to temperature changes of a petroleum product
between 40C and 100C.
A higher viscosity index indicates a
smaller decrease in viscosity with an increasing temperature of
the lubricant. In refining processes, viscosity can be measured
by three ways: with a single viscometer, via interpolated dual
viscometers, and with a viscosity analyzer.
Viscometers. With a single viscometer, a temperature
compensation model is applied. The instrument continuously
measures the viscosity at process temperature. The processor
calculates the viscosity at the reference temperature (with a
variation law). When the difference between the process and
reference temperature is reduced to 20C, a compensation
model is applied. For known petroleum products and increased
differences between process and reference temperature (e.g.,
150C), the ASTM D341 model is used.
This method implies
that the reference product and its behavior are known. In ad-
dition, this technique satisfies basic viscosity measurement re-
quirements and presents several advantages including minimal
front-end investment, instantaneous and continuous measure-
ment, and extremely good reliability.
Interpolated viscometers. With two interpolated viscom-
eters, viscosity measurement exists at two temperatures; one
measurement is before the reference temperature and the oth-
er measurement is after. According to the end-users reference
temperature and identified parameters, a processor continu-
ously calculates the viscosity according to the ASTM D341
Interpolated viscometers can provide improved reli-
ability with continuous viscosity measurement calculations.
Just like a single viscometer, this solution satisfies viscosity
standards requirements.
Viscosity analyzers. The analyzer method is the best ap-
proach for controlling petroleum products viscosity is actu-
ally measured at the reference temperature. With this viscosity
principle, a sample is taken from the process and introduced
to the analyzer. The sample is prepared for measurement; the
viscosity at reference temperature is recorded, and the sample
20 40 60
Temperature, C


80 100 120
FIG. 1. Viscosity vs. temperature diagram for petroleum products.
78JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Refining Developments
is returned to the process. This procedure is repeated, and
the sample is continuously renewed. The analyzer presents a
supreme advantage as the measurement is made at the actual
reference temperature, regardless of the products behavior.
With the analyzer, any effects of varying process tempera-
tures are eliminated. The correlation to the ASTM standard is
done directly, and the accuracy is obtained by measuring prin-
ciple as opposed to calculating an approximation. For single-
and dual-viscometer applications, the viscosity will vary with
product quality and temperature. For the analyzer at reference
temperature, a real viscosity measurement is made at a con-
stant reference temperature, whether higher or lower than the
process temperature.
According to ASTM D445, inline measurements must be
repeatable and simple to use and install. They should require
minimum maintenance in both time and cost. The instru-
ments require ex-proof agreement to easily fit in numerous
locations with the refinery. Viscosity remains relevant to re-
fining during mixing, blending and separation operations.
More important, viscosity is a quality-control parameter, and
it can be scrutinized in all phases. Superior quality for petro-
leum products and all its derivatives is dependent upon vis-
cosity characteristics.
Combustion. Many liquid fuels are used in the industry; die-
sel and heavy fuel oil are the most common. Liquid fuels are
used in boilers, burners, furnaces or engines to supply heat or
mechanical energy. In each case, the burner introduces a spray
into the combustion process. From simple to complex com-
bustion formulas, viscosity does control the droplet size.
By adjusting a sprays droplet size to suit the application, a
process viscometer in a combustion installation can optimize
energy production and reduce fuel consumption. In addition,
it reduces the unburned residue and soot accumulation in the
combustion chamber, and minimizes corrosion in the cham-
ber. With its reliable and repeatable measure, the process vis-
cometer also provides combustion efficiency. Maintenance,
cleaning requirements and atmospheric emissions are reduced.
To obtain superior operation in heavy fuel No. 2 burners, the
fuel spray must have defined characteristics linked to the fuel
oils viscosity. Those characteristics are provided by the burner
manufacturer, and they are reached while heating the fuel.
Efficiency of the burner is optimum when the viscosity of
the fluid matches the specifications of the burner. Installing a
viscosity-control system ensures that the viscosity value read-
ings are constant and that viscosity control is maintained. The
controller interacts on the heater command, and determines
the heating energy needed to maintain good HFO viscosity.
In the past, temperature controls combined with viscos-
ity and temperature charts were used. These systems were
simple and were efficient when the HFO had constant char-
acteristics. This is no longer acceptable. The relationship
between viscosity and HFO temperature presents higher
dispersions due to the diverse origins of the raw oils, dif-
ferent refining methods, and variations among additives.
Temperature control alone does not guarantee permanent
viscosity stability. There is too much variation between the
products and batches.
With petroleum products, viscosity is even more crucial,
as it is a dedicated, burned energy source. Viscosity control
is indispensable in the burning of HFOs in industrial mo-
tors, furnaces/heaters and marine engines. Viscosity control
inside combustion engines is increasingly realized and mea-
sured to improve the power ratio. Refineries, power plants
and utility companies use burners, and the manufacturers of
burners and engines demand optimal viscosity value to im-
prove performance rates (TABLE 1).
Quality control. In petroleum operations, as in many indus-
trial sectors, onsite control is vital for product delivery. Vis-
cosity is also a point of security in distribution tanks. Instru-
ments used for this measure require good repeatability and
reliability. By checking viscosity, companies can validate that
tanks are supplied with the correct product. By verifying this
step, potential mistakes with customers are avoided.
Precise measurements. Petroleum-related operations
present diverse applications. Viscosity is a key parameter in
each phase for production and product quality control. In
the petroleum industry, prices and volumes are huge; thus,
any viscosity-related improvements have significant benefits.
Accordingly, the global petroleum-related industry needs to
pursue investments in viscosity measurement. Such projects
should focus on instruments that can deliver long-lasting sat-
isfaction for productivity; they should also provide robust
and repeatable results, have maintenance-free capabilities,
offer continuous measurement, and be resistant to high-pres-
sure and high-temperature environments. Manufacturers are
developing more sophisticated instrumentation technology;
such developments offer new features and optimized charac-
teristics to comply with the petroleum industry.
ASTM D2270-04, Standard Practice for Calculating Viscosity Index from
Kinematic Viscosity at 40C and 100C.
ASTM D34109, Standard Practice for Viscosity-Temperature Charts for Liquid
Petroleum Products.
ASTM D44511a, Standard Test Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent
and Opaque Liquids (and Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity).
DR. L. SOFRASER is the president of Sofraser, a 40-year-old fluid specialist
company. He is the inventor of the vibrating viscometer held at resonance
frequency. Patented in 1981, it is now widely considered a reliable viscosity process
instrument. (www.sofraser.com.)
DR. P. BURGIS the sales manager of Sofraser.
D. CHANTEREAU is the marketing manager of Sofraser.
S. STANTONIS a sales support associate of Sofraser.
TABLE 1. Performance increase in burning operations.
Yield increase From 1% to 10%
Consumption increase From 1% to 10%
Maintenance reduction Factor of 10
Unburned residues Divided by 7
Smoke temperature Reduction from 240C to 200C
Combustion parameter stabilization 1%
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201479
J. DEANE, WIKA Instrument, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Reliable gauges improve safety and reliability
Caustic. Flammable. Corrosive. When
these adjectives describe the agents that
you work with every day, keeping them
contained safely is of paramount concern.
But what would you say if you knew that
the average chemical processing plant has
hundreds of connections that are in great
and immediate danger of failing and caus-
ing spills, accidents and even explosions?
To say that we run the risk of seeing a
widespread processing plant crisis may
not be as alarmist as it sounds.
The source of this concern is as ubiqui-
tous as it is simple: the common pressure
gauges found all over refineries and chem-
ical processing plants. These simple metal
casings with mechanically driven pointer
needles that are relied upon millions of
times per year for accurate readings could
play a role in the next reportable incident.
This could either be because a gauge fails
to indicate a looming threat or the gauge
itself fails so completely that it becomes an
actual source of media leakage.
Recent events validate the matters
imminence. Many of the worst modern
industrial disasters have been started by
relatively simple failures. The Chevron
refinery fire in Richmond, California, was
caused by a single corroded pipe, and evi-
dence points to a broken pressure gauge
as a mitigating factor in the Deepwater Ho-
rizon disaster. California is so concerned
about refinery safety that it formed the In-
teragency Refinery Task Force to beef up
enforcement of existing laws and to give
regulatory agencies more teeth.
Problem scope. Imagine that at any giv-
en time you were within 20 ft of 7.6 elec-
trical outlets that could fail and give you a
jolt; you would probably find that pretty
worrisome. An analogous situation plays
out every day at many processing plants:
The average employee at a petrochemical
plant is located within 20 ft of 7.6 gauges
that are failing or about to fail. With the
caustic, flammable and corrosive nature
of material present at these facilities, the
direct safety risk is apparent.
Safety lapses located in proximity of
employees are especially problematic
given how costly accidents that cause per-
sonnel injury or death can be. According
to the US Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA), a refinery ac-
cident that causes a lost work day costs
$28,000 directly plus $152,000 in indirect
costs. If an occupational death is involved,
that cost quickly skyrockets to $910,000
for each affected employeeand that
doesnt even include property damage
costs or intangibles like bad publicity and
the potential for litigation. When the se-
verity of an accident involves the general
public, costs and reputation spiral out of
control with lightning speed.
Compounding this problem is that
almost 25% of all gauges in an average
processing plant require corrective ac-
tion. This can be due to misapplication,
damage or complete failure of the gauge.
Not only do failing gauges become unreli-
able as silent alarms to warn of potential
threats, but gauges are connection points
themselves and as such any failure has
leak hazard potential. The thinnest barrier
between contained media and the out-
side world in any petrochemical facility
is the Bourdon tube, an internal compo-
nent present on most gauges. If it fails, the
chance of media leakage is almost 100%.
The average refinery contains between
300,000 and 400,000 connections, many
of which are gauges. Even a pinpoint leak
in any of these connections can lead to
fugitive emissions, leading to safety inci-
dents and sometimes fires. Further, these
types of emissions are highly monitored
by the US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Fines incurred for failing
to contain fugitive emissions can reach
millions of dollars for a single incident.
According to the American Petroleum
Institute, more than 83% of controllable
fugitive emissions originate from only
0.24% of a plants piping components.
The return on investment (ROI) for en-
suring the integrity of these components,
including connective gauges, is stagger-
ing: A $60 to $100 gauge could literally
prevent millions of dollars in losses.
Problem sources. Knowledge and tech-
nology have improved drastically over the
past several years and decades, and, as a
result, overall plant safety has improved
along with it. Why, then, have losses from
refinery and petrochemical safety incidents
totaled $1 billion over the past three years,
according to the American Petroleum In-
stitute? That averages out to approximately
$1.6 million per refinery in the US.
The answer is paradoxical. New
knowledge and technology have certainly
improved safety and productivity, but
an unintended cost has come alongside
them; the sacrifice of legacy technology
and knowledge.
Electronic sensors began replacing
mechanical gauges as primary sources of
information shortly after they were intro-
duced to the market. Plant managers left
mechanical gauges in place as a source
of frontline information and to provide
backup readings during instances of power
failures and other electronic disruptions.
Over time, electronic equipment proved
its worth and proliferated, and mechanical
gauges received less and less attention.
Many plants have now reached a point
where gauge maintenance is no longer
A major issue contributing to the degra-
dation of gauge integrity is industry brain
drain. The professionals with the educa-
tion, years of experience and knowledge
necessary to properly maintain mechani-
cal gauges are instrument and control en-
gineers (ICEs). Through a long period of
retirements and plant scale-backs, many
80JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
ICEs have exited the market. This problem
will almost definitely accelerate as more
than half of all oil and gas professionals are
set to retire within the next 10 years. When
ICEs retire, it is difficult to transfer knowl-
edge of the gauge population. Therefore,
the young replacements have no histori-
cal perspective and limited experience to
manage mechanical instrumentation.
Determine gauge damage. Over time,
gauges fail and, when the failure is no-
ticed, the gauge is replaced. Often, a well-
meaning employee will replace the gauge
with another from the storeroom that
looks similar, but is not rated to handle the
application. The majority of gauge failure
incidents are caused by misapplication,
often resulting from the simple generaliza-
tion that a gauge that looks about right
is a suitable replacement.
Aside from misapplication, there are
several common environmental causes of
gauge failure:
Vibration. A common occurrence
on many pieces of equipment used in
petrochemical facilities, most gauges
are built to withstand a certain level
of vibration. However, excessive
vibration can lead to gauge failure
and may also be indicative of a larger
problem with a component.
Pulsation. Rapidly cycling media
within a pressure system can cause
gauge needles to move erratically,
eventually causing internal parts to
break down and fail from the con-
stant movement.
Temperature. Petrochemical pro-
cessing plants often encounter tem-
perature extremes and, over time, this
can cause sweating and loosening in
metal joints. This eventually causes
the metal to crack and creates an op-
portunity for media leakage to occur.
Overpressure and pressure spikes.
When pressure exceeds the high-
est measurement available on the
applied gauge, the pointer pegs at
maximum. Frequent pegging causes
the pointer to bend against the stop
pin, possibly leading to inaccurate
measurements. Overpressure also
compromises Bourdon tube integ-
rity and can lead to rupture.
Corrosion. Caustic and corrosive
media are commonplace in chemical
processing and can damage gauges
when they come into contact with the
delicate sensing material that enables
the instrument to function properly
and provide accurate readings.
Clogging. Many plants use media
that contain suspended particles or
have viscous or crystallizing proper-
ties. This media can clog pressure
systems, which makes gauge read-
ings unreliable.
Steam. Vapor and steam are also
common at many plants, but certain
types of vapor and steam, or their
excessive amounts, can damage the
internal parts of gauges and compro-
mise the integrity of their readings.
Mishandling and improper use.
Any instrument can be damaged if
used improperly or abused. Abuse
can run the gamut from employees
using gauges as footrests while climb-
ing on machinery to striking one in
anger. Whatever the cause, abuse can
damage gauges and prevent them
from functioning properly.
Correct the problem. Many plant man-
agers are not aware of just how many fail-
ing or about-to-fail gauges exist in their
plants, and, of the ones who do, most do
not have a plan of action to address the
issue. Because of the gauge expert brain
drain, the industry has sufferedeven fa-
cilities that would like to correct the prob-
lem do not have the resources available to
do so. Many do not have current P&ID
documents on file or the experts on staff
capable of determining appropriate gauge
applications. Their only option in the past
has been to continue guessing as to which
gauge belongs where or to hire outside
consultants to perform plant audits.
Equipment manufacturers are starting
to own this problem and create solutions
to help improve plant safety and reliabil-
ity. Some manufacturers are offering full
instrument audits where any problems are
identified and addressed. This is generally
done as a value-added service to help keep
plants operating at peak productivity levels.
During a plant audit, a team of specially
trained engineers access a facility where
they conduct a full walk through and cross-
reference each and every gauge with what
is indicated on the P&ID. If the P&ID is
outdated or does not exist, the team will
update it or create a brand new document
based on the current equipment.
Engineers inspect every gauge and
note any instrumentation in need of at-
tention. Any problems found are docu-
mented and engineering-based recom-
mendations are provided to ensure the
correct solution is applied.
Another important component of a
plant audit is the storeroom audit. Not
only does this portion of the audit stream-
line the maintenance operations of the
plant, but it is also where monetary ben-
efits can be realized immediately. This
process involves standardizing inventory
in the storeroom. Many storerooms con-
tain inefficient inventory with redundant
SKUs, and benefit greatly from identify-
ing which items should be stocked and
which are unnecessary, allowing them to
be purged from inventory. This serves a
dual purpose: It helps minimize inven-
tory while also making sure that suitable
replacement gauges are always available.
Limiting the diversity of stocked SKUs
minimizes confusion, curbing the possi-
bility of selecting the wrong equipment.
Plants that audit their storerooms are typi-
cally able to reduce inventory by 40%.
A skilled audit team will also educate
plant staff on the changes that were made
and how operations are affected. Mainte-
nance staff are taught how to identify and
correct failing instruments with appro-
priate replacement configurations. They
are also shown how to apply each gauge,
how to handle them properly, and how
to recognize situations that could lead to
future failures.
The time to conduct a facility audit is
now. There is no need to wait for a turn-
around period, as full operations do not
get in the way of diagnostic and replace-
ment efforts. In fact, it is generally easier
to conduct an audit and implement its so-
lutions when the plant is up and running.
Every day that a facility waits to audit its
instrumentation is a day closer to that in-
strumentation failing.
With more demands than ever being
put on processing plants, safety and pro-
ductivity have become massive concerns.
The US is refining more oil than ever be-
fore, but the facilities used to process it
are aging and operating well beyond the
capacities they were originally designed
for. While it is natural to invest significant
time and resources on the most expensive
equipment, it should not be done so at the
expense of quality mechanical gauges.
JASON DEANE is a senior instrumentation engineer
for WIKA Instruments audit service team.
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201481
Process Optimization
Optimized Gas Treating, Buda, Texas
HCN distribution in sour water systems
Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is commonly present in refinery
gases. Because of its low volatility and, to some extent, its acidity,
it travels through amine and sour water systems in an unusual
and, heretofore, poorly understood way. To shine some light on
this subject and perhaps develop a worthy solution, a simulation
study has been performed with HCN removal being treated on a
mass transfer rate basis. This will help develop an understanding
of how HCN distributes in the sour water system and where it
might form an internal recycle within a tower.
HCN is an insidious contaminant in raw gas from cracked
stocks, and has far-reaching effects on amine and sour water sys-
tem performance and equipment longevity. After hydrocarbon
contamination, its presence is probably the primary reason refin-
ery amine and sour water systems suffer from accelerated corro-
sion and from operability and reliability problems. When HCN
enters the amine system, its hydrolysis produces ammonia (NH
and formate (HCOO), a heat-stable salt (HSS) anion. Reaction
of HCN with oxygen and hydrogen sulfide (H
S) generates an-
other HSSs, thiocyanate (SCN). Accelerated corrosion from the
resulting heat-stable salts leads to faster formation of particulate
iron sulfide, filter element plugging, fouled equipment, lower ca-
pacity and more stable foams. Most of the HCN, however, travels
with blown-down ammonia to the sour water stripper (SWS). In
this report, mass transfer rate-based simulation is used to study
HCN distribution in SWSs in unprecedented detail.
Background. Amine data collected over some 20 years show a
consistent pattern over time and unit configuration of the relative
amount of HSS anions, mainly HCOO and SCN produced
from various refinery units. Amine systems treating gases from
various sources experience different rates of HSS formation.
Treating gases and liquids for H
S from delayed cokers have
the greatest buildup of amine HSS anions. This is followed by
fluid catalytic crackers (FCCs) without gasoil feed hydrotreat-
ing, and then by FCCs with feed hydrotreating. Amine systems
serving hydrocrackers and hydrotreaters, completely isolated and
separate from coking and FCC operations, normally show mini-
mal signs of HSS buildup. This information is shown in FIG. 1.
Solvent analyses and investigations at many facilities indicate
that HCN is the main contaminant source for producing HSS
anions. TABLE 1 shows the mechanisms for the formation of the
most common refinery HSS anions. Data from several refineries
have shown that:
Beginning to treat oxygen containing streams in an amine
system that previously had only HCOO buildup will show
a dramatic increase in the rate of thiocyanate accumulation
Dumping tail gas unit (TGU) amine contaminated with
thiosulfate (S
) into primary amine systems will cause
an immediate increase in the amount of SCN buildup.
Ammonium polysulfide (APS) is commonly added to wash
water systems to aid in the control of cracking and blistering in
carbon steel in wet H
S service. Companies that sell and moni-
tor APS confirm the presence of HCN in these systems.
HCN is a byproduct of cracking the heavier fractions of
crude oil in a refinery (either thermally as in a coker, or catalyt-
ically as in a FCC). The gasoil (boiling point 750F/399C+)
and heavier fractions tend to have greater concentrations of ni-
trogen than the diesel and lighter fractions. Compared to high-
pressure hydrotreating and hydrocracking processes, cracking
processes that operate at high temperature and low hydrogen
partial pressure do not completely convert byproduct mol-
ecules like HCN.
Thus, HCN occurs quite naturally in refineries and has many
sources. Some processes are high producers; others do not seem
to produce HCN at all. Once it has been produced, HCN finds
Increasing HSS buildup rate



FIG. 1. Pace of HSS anion formation in refinery amine systems.
TABLE 1. Sources of HSS incursion
Cyanides from treating cracked stocks, FCCs and cokers
RCN + 2H
O r NH

+ R
N r R
+ NH
2HCN + O
+ 2H
S + 2R
N r 2R
+ 2SCN

+ 2H
Oxygen incursion, FCCs and vacuum tower ofgas
S + 2O
+ 2R
N r 2R
+ S
+ H
breakthroughs (Claus TGUs)
S + 4SO
+ H
O + 6R
N r 6R
+ 3S
r 2SO
82JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Process Optimization
its way into the amine system with the H
S-containing gases.
HCN forms in various processes within a refinery; HSSs form in
the amine system. Once in the amine system then, various con-
ditions and the presence of other contaminants allow some of
the HCN to be converted into HSS anions. The rest of the HCN
either goes overhead to the sulfur plant, or it gets blown down
with NH
and enters the sour water system.
HCN in sour water. A recent case study shows a rather surpris-
ing distribution of HCN in a SWSin this case, a packed tower.
TABLE 2 shows the composition and flow of this typical refinery
sour water stream. FIG. 2 shows the SWS setup, configured to re-
turn all overhead vapor condensate to the stripper. The SWS was
5.5 ft in diameter, and we used 33-ft and 48-ft beds of random
packing to assess the effect of packed depth on stripped water
quality. The overhead pressure was 22 psig, and for this case
study, a reboiler duty of 33 MMBtu/h was selected to achieve
100 ppmw of ammonia in the stripped water. The preheater sent
245F sour water feed to the top of the column.
With the 33-ft deep bed, the stripped water was simulated
to have 100.5 ppmw NH
and 12.5 ppmw HCN, with unde-
tectable H
S. With the 48-ft deep bed, the corresponding per-
formance metrics were 28 ppmw NH
and 4.5 ppbw HCN. Of
course, in condensing water from the stripper overhead, a lot
of the gases already stripped (in Stream 3) are reabsorbed into
the condensate (73% of the NH
, 70% of the HCN, and 51% of
the H
S) and are returned to the stripper. This is unavoidable
if the stripped gas is to be further processed for sulfur recovery
without overloading the system with water vapor, but it may be
worth noting that a lot of energy is expended to strip and re-
strip the same contaminants repeatedly.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of HCN in the SWS is its
distribution across the column itself. FIG. 3 (left panel) shows
how the concentration of HCN in the water phase changes with
vertical position within the packed beds of two different depths.
FIG. 3 (right panel) shows the corresponding temperature pro-
files. The lower temperature near the top of the column is not
Stripped water
Feed heater
Sour water
Flash gas
FIG. 2. SWS configuration.
0 500 1,000
HCN in water, ppmw
1,500 2,000



245 250 255 260 265
Vapor temperature, F



33 ft
48 ft
33 ft
48 ft
(a) (b)
FIG. 3. Profiles of HCN in water, and of vapor temperature.
TABLE 2. Renery sour water
Temperature, F 100
Pressure, psig 9
Flow, bpd (gpm) 16,500 (480)
Composition, ppmw
S 8,000
HCN 300
Thiocyanate 36
Chloride 9
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201483
Process Optimization
caused by sour water that is being fed too coldin fact, the sour
water enters the column with the liquid just above its bubble
point with 0.3% vapor. The bubble point is a function of the
composition of the water with respect to the volatile acid gases
and NH
On the other hand, temperature also affects HCN
solubility in water. As a result, the temperature profile has a pro-
found effect on the HCN profile in the stripper. HCN that was
removed from the water in the reboiler and in the bottom part
of the column is partially reabsorbed near the top of the column
where the temperature is 14F to 15F colder.
Although the original sour water in this theoretical study
contained only 300 ppmw HCN, water entering the top of the
column contained 875 ppmw because of HCN reabsorption
into the returned condensate. Peak concentrations in the tower
are simulated to be about 1,530 ppmw and 1,580 ppmw HCN
for the 33- and 48-ft beds, respectively. These are some five
times the concentration in the original sour water feed. The cor-
responding HCN level in the vapor is 825 ppmv. These elevated
concentrations have a much higher tendency to corrode steel,
so this may go some way towards explaining the need for expen-
sive upgraded metallurgy in the SWS overhead system. As can
be seen from the figure, HCN stripping is far poorer than one
might have expected, even accounting for the higher HCN con-
tent of the column feed. In the case of the 33-ft bed, the bulge
occupies the top half of the column, rendering half the column
ineffective for HCN removal. When the bed depth is increased
to 48 ft, the HCN bulge profile and peak value remain virtu-
ally identical. Increasing the bed depth by 15 ft has allowed the
HCN profile to become what it might have been expected to
be without the bulge. Other conditions being the same, HCN
(a) 1.2 lb steam/gallon (b) 1.4 lb steam/gallon
0 100 200
HCN in sour water, ppmw
300 400 500



0 100 200 300 400 500
HCN in sour water, ppmw



FIG. 4. Effect of sour water HCN level on residual NH
in treated water.
0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000
HCN in sour water, ppmw



0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000
HCN in sour water, ppmw



(a) 1.2 lb steam/gallon (b) 1.4 lb steam/gallon
FIG. 5. Effect of sour water HCN level on HCN profiles and on the position and size of the composition bulge.
84JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Process Optimization
can be stripped to very low levels but only by using more bed
depth. The reason for the deeper bed requirement is the pres-
ence of a very significant bulge and, consequently, a very large,
non-functional section of packed bed in the column.
Higher HCN levels in the sour water cause higher residual
in the treated water. In FIG. 4, this is shown in the left and
right panels, which, respectively, correspond to 1.2 lb and 1.4
lb of 50-psig saturated steam per gallon of water treated. The
high-performance random packing was 33.5 ft deep. At the
lower steam consumption rate, the effect of HCN is significant,
but at the higher, more-typical rate of 1.4 lb/gal, the effect is
somewhat more marginal.
FIG. 5 shows how the HCN levels in the raw water affect the
HCN profiles in the SWS. The size of the peak, of course, in-
creases with the HCN content of the raw water. Furthermore,
the peak occurs higher in the stripper, the higher is the HCN
content of the original sour water. Higher steam rates push the
bulge further up the tower and reduce its size; nevertheless,
the bulge still exists even at this higher steam rate, and a size-
able portion of the stripper is completely ineffective in terms of
what might have been expected had the existence of the com-
position bulge not been known.
Wrap up. The discovery that HCN accumulates internally
within a SWS has been reported here for the first time. The
use of mass transfer rate-based simulation has allowed this sig-
nificant internal recycle of HCN to be quantified in unprec-
edented detail. The discovery of this recycle may go some way
toward explaining observed tower corrosion rates in existing
plants and may permit better informed material selection de-
cisions to be made for plants still in the design phase. We spec-
ulate that such a distribution of HCN probably always occurs
in both amine regenerators and SWSs because the mechanism
by which it forms is through the connection between solubil-
ity, vapor pressure, and local temperature, and this exists in
both types of units.
Bubble point is the temperature at which the vapor pressure over the solution is
equal to the system pressure. It is greatly affected by the presence of volatile, dis-
solved components in the water.
RALPH WEILAND founded Optimized Gas Treating in 1992 and has been active
in Canada, Australia and the US in basic and applied research in gas treating
since 1965. He also spent 10 years in tray R&D with Koch-Glitsch LP, Dallas, Texas.
He has bachelors, masters and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from
the University of Toronto.
NATE HATCHER is the vice president of technical development for Optimized
Gas Treating. He has spent most of his 19-year career in gas treating and sulfur
recovery, first in design and startup with Black & Veatch Pritchard, and later in
plant troubleshooting and technical support with ConocoPhillips, where he was
also involved with developing process simulation tools.
CLAY JONES is the principal technical development engineer with Optimized
Gas Treating. He has a bachelor of science degree from McNeese State
University and a masters degree from the University of New Mexico. Before
starting his current job in 2012, Mr. Jones spent 11 years with ConocoPhillips in
sulfur plant and amine unit operations.
Select 158 at www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com/RS
Human-machine interfaces are the future of petrochemical refining P87
Automation news in brief P88
ABB IncAnalytical Measurement P91
Special Supplement to
IsraelOn the Verge of Becoming an Exporter of Natural Gas
The State of Natural Gas in Israel
A series of recent discoveries by Noble Energy, the
largest operator in the region, has increased the
discovered gross resources of natural gas in the area
to approximately 40 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The Tamar
natural gas eld, rst discovered in 2009, came online in
March 2013 and is estimated to contain 10 Tcf of natural
gas. Deliverability at the eld is expected to reach 1.2
billion cubic feet per day (Bcfd) gross by mid-2015,
and an additional expansion to 1.5 Bcfd is planned
for 2016. The Leviathan eld, discovered in December
2010, is the largest in the region, with an estimated
recoverable gross mean resource of 19 Tcf of natural gas.
Multiple phases of development in the eld are being
progressed toward sanction, and production is expected
to come online in 2017.
Additional smaller gas elds have also been
discovered, including the Dalit and Tanin elds, and
additional exploration is planned. Noble Energy, with
partner Delek Group and its subsidiary, Avner Oil and
Gas Exploration, are the regions main operators.
Demand for natural gas is strong in Israel and the
region, and Israel is exploring its regional and LNG
export options. As reported in World Oils Eastern
Mediterranean regional report in February 2013, Israel
consumed 187 Bcf of natural gas in 2010, with 40% of the
nations electricity generated from natural gas. Natural
gas production from new reserves will be increased,
and the transmission and distribution systems will
be upgraded. Overall, net production is projected to
increase to approximately 575 MMcfd in 2018 and then
increase over the next ve years to 1.1 Bcfd in 2023.
Developing Policy
The Israeli government is actively determining its natural
gas policies, as well as evaluating plans to develop the
infrastructure needed to process and transport natural
gas. The Israeli cabinet (Knesset) approved a plan to
reserve 60% of natural gas for domestic use, projected
to be around 540 Bcm over the next 25 years. The
remaining 40% will be available for export, which is
expected to earn $50 billion in the next 25 years. The
decision was upheld when Israels High Court rejected
appeals to the decision to export 40% of the natural gas.
Established Oil Potential in the Region
Signicant exploration potential remains in the region.
Oil potential is estimated at approximately 3 Bbbl in the
deep Mesozoic play in both Cyprus and Israel and there is
4 Tcf gross of natural gas potential in Cyprus. Exploration
drilling is expected to resume in the area in late 2014
or early 2015.
Key Players
Noble Energy, with partners Delek Group and Avner Oil
and Gas Exploration, are the main operators responsible
for the discovery and development of the Tamar and
Leviathan elds.
Woodside Energy. Since 2012, Noble Energy and partners
have been in negotiation with Woodside Energy on a deal
to provide a working interest in the ofshore Leviathan
licenses to the latter. Woodside Energy is Australias
largest producer of LNG, with over 25 years of experience.
Their expertise in LNG would be an important asset in
the development of LNG or FLNG processing facilities in
the region.
Cyprus. Recent discoveries in Cyprus have made it a
pivotal player in the region. Noble Energy and partners
are also drilling of Cyprus, where they were responsible
for the Cyprus-A discovery, estimated to contain 5 Tcf of
natural gas. Cyprus is now positioned to be an energy
exporter. Total and eni are also exploring opportunities
in the region. The fragile state of the Cypriot economy
has created an urgency to monetize its natural gas
supply. Many in Cyprus are keen to develop an LNG
facility that is estimated to cost $12 billion. Israels
participation in the project would lessen the nancing
burden on Cyprus. Such a facility would also open the
door for exports to Europe, Asia and beyond.
Turkey. A partnership with Turkey remains a possibility,
though an unsteady political relationship between the
Israeli and Turkish governments decreases the odds. If
a partnership were to be formed, existing and potential
Turkish pipelines would provide lucrative access to
consumers in the European and Asian markets.
Jordan. Jordan has been approved by the Israeli High
Court to receive gas exports and was targeted as a
potential market by Noble Energy.
Egypt. Egypt began exporting gas to Israel in 2008, but
the contract was cancelled in 2012. Along with Jordan,
Noble Energy listed Egypt a potential market in 2012.
A Recap of Possible Scenarios:
A) LNG plant in Cyprus which utilizes gas from both
Israeli and Cyprus elds
B) FLNG located in the Eastern Mediterranean sea
C) Israeli gas connected to Turkey via pipeline
An Opportunity for Collaboration
and Networking at the 2014 Eastern
Mediterranean Gas Conference
The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conference will be held
1012 March 2014 and will give special focus to the latest
market and technology trends related to the exploration,
drilling, production, processing and marketing of
natural gas ofshore Israel and throughout the Eastern
Mediterranean. Topics to be discussed include resource
potential, leasing/permitting, development plans,
infrastructure requirements, regulations and more.
Noble Energy will be the lead sponsor for the
event and was also lead sponsor of the inaugural
Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conference, held in April
2013, where the companys Chairman and CEO Charles
Davidson delivered the keynote address. EMGC 2014
will be held at the Hilton Tel Aviv, Independence Park,
Tel Aviv 63405, Israel. For more information, visit
Field Discovery Production Est. size, Bcf
Mari-B 2000 2004 1,000
Tamar 2009 2013 9,700
Dalit 2009 2013 700
Leviathan 2010 2016 19,000
Dolphin 2011 Pending 81
Tanin 2012 Pending 1,2001,300
40 Tcf
Discovered gross resources
of natural gas in the Eastern
Mediterranean region.
19 Tcf
Projected amount of natural gas
in the Leviathan eld, expected
to come online in 2017.
1.1 Bcfd
The expectation for natural
gas sales in 2023.
Revenue natural gas exports are
projected to bring to Israel over
the next 25 years.
40% OF
Approximate percentage the
Israeli government has made
available for export.
COREY FOSTER represents Valin Corp. in the
Northern California automation market. Valin is
a technical solutions provider for the technology,
energy, life sciences, natural resources and
t ranspor t at i on i ndust ri es. The company
offers personal ized order management ,
onsite field support, training and applied
engineering services utilizing automation, fluid
management, precision measurement, process
heating, filtration and fluid power products.
Mr. Foster, who has 15 years of experience in
automation specializing in electromechanical
motion control, recently corresponded with the
Hydrocarbon Processing editorial team to share
his thoughts on automation market innovations
and the future of the refining industry.
What specific advances or innovations
do you think will be the driving force
behind the future of the petrochemical
refining industry?
The future of the petrochemical re-
fining industry will be driven by human-
machine interfaces (HMIs) pushing
information to where it is needed. An
HMI that pushes production, quality
and alarm information to the right level
of user or management anywhere in the
world has the ability to increase the vis-
ibility and reaction time to problems as
they arise. This type of innovation will
help with plant coordination and trou-
bleshooting recovery.
In a refinery using control architecture
implemented decades ago, when a sen-
sors report back to the controls is out of
the ordinary, the controls will throw an
alarm. This is typically in a central con-
trol room removed from the location of
the sensor and the problem. There may or
may not be any indication of this alarm at
the location of the problem, and if there
is, it is probably just a flashing light on an
electrical panel or HMI somewhere in the
vicinity. If no one is there to see the alarm,
then response times to certain problems
can be unnecessarily long.
A solution currently available that
helps shorten these lengthy response
times is when that information is
pushed to wherever the user wants it to
go. This includes e-mailing or texting an
alert to a specific person. If the first user
does not respond in an allotted time, the
controls system can automatically esca-
late it to the next person. Then the users
can respond to the alarm and appropri-
ately react from wherever they are. This is
the kind of modern advancement the in-
dustry needs to embrace in order to keep
moving forward.
There could also be opportunities for
dynamic context-sensitive information.
What if users could then open a Web
browser or app on their smart phones and
look at more details about the alarm to
see its severity, location and perhaps even
a suggested resolution?
What could be possible with dynamic
context-sensitive information?
I think the best way to describe what
I mean is through an example. Think of
a copier machine that is jammed and it
gives you information on fixing the prob-
lem. Or think of the help buttons in pro-
grams that give you assistance on a specif-
ic topic, depending on what you are doing.
Both of those are context-sensitive, but
they are still static and local to the appli-
cation. What if these applications could
be dynamically updated as solutions are
developed for commonly occurring prob-
lems? A copier machine that utilizes this
dynamic context-sensitive information
would be able to display fixes for common
problems and potentially warn you before
a problem even occurs.
Hypothetically, a company that imple-
ments these systems all up and down a
pipeline can update a PDF or webpage
that is linked to all of their other custom-
ers systems, creating a large network
of helpful information for everyone in-
volved. OEM customers would always be
sure to have the latest and greatest sup-
port information before they even have a
problem. FAQs on demand!
Any other new innovations
you see that will impact refiners?
Other notable new innovations include
traceability, authorization and escalation
when dealing with HMIs. Many times,
problems are caused by operators pushing
buttons they shouldnt be, entering incor-
rect information, and then not being truth-
ful about what they did. Being able to re-
cord their steps would give accountability
to the operators, along with traceability on
their actions, and thus allow for the gather-
ing of troubleshooting information. This
application has tremendous value in every
other industry where the same problems
exist. This kind of technology will go a long
way in improving operator performance.
Additionally, most control systems
these days provide some sort of security
or authorization level capability. These
features are especially useful in the phar-
P88 PROCESS AUTOMATION | JANUARY 2014 | HydrocarbonProcessing.com
maceutical industry, which is regulated by
the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) and requires strict security stan-
dards (21CRF11). Those same capabili-
ties are also well used in other industries
for the same purposes, even if deemed less
critical. The innovations that are taking
place in newer tools aimed at 21CFR11
compliance allow a user to make certain
adjustments only after receiving a man-
agers approval, ensuring that the operator
isnt going to make a mistake that a higher-
level user would have detected.
Where and how have these
innovations already been
implemented? What effects
have they had?
The idea of pushing information to
the right place has been used all over the
manufacturing industry. HMIs are just
one specific way of using this innovation
in a pipeline or facility application. Great
visibility means greater production ef-
ficiency and throughput, no matter what
the industry.
The notion of dynamic context-sen-
sitive information is a relatively new idea
that requires more thought, planning, pro-
gramming and updating. Because of this,
there are very few applications that I know
of using this technology, since most com-
panies prioritize project completion first.
Cost efficiency would always be a concern
with this application, which, unfortunate-
ly, has limited its scope up until now. How-
ever, the effects on efficiency and timeli-
ness would be immense if this technology
was utilized on a wider scale.
What are the biggest obstacles
to improving the industry, and
how do you overcome them?
The most pressing obstacle when it
comes to implementing new technology
is the resistance to change. The industry
is inherently conservative and doesnt al-
ways welcome change with open arms.
Some good examples of this resistance
to change come from my experience in
selling valves and filters to the pharmaceu-
tical industry. When I would present pro-
cess engineers with a new valve and filtra-
tion technology that would improve their
process control, yields and process times,
their first question was always, Who in
the pharmaceutical industry is already us-
ing this? I found that, in each case, the
new technology had to be vetted and ap-
proved in an intensive small-scale test pro-
cess in order for it to even be considered.
While many industry professionals are
resistant to change for safety, financial or
regulatory reasons, we in the automation
industry try to make them see the poten-
tial that technologies such as the ones Ive
described can offer. We have to start in
small bites in the industry to get them fa-
miliar with what is truly possible.
Honeywell has announced its next
generation terminal manager server soft-
ware, offering full integration of fire and
gas, closed-circuit television (CCTV),
access control, digital video manager and
enterprise building integrator systems.
The new terminal manager server soft-
ware includes the industrys first configu-
rable workflows for faster setup.
This release marks a major advance
in terminal automation for an integrated
solution built around a standard platform
that also improves safety and security,
said Richard Thompson, general manager
of Honeywell Enraf.
Incorporating more than six decades
of experience providing solutions for ter-
minal operators, Honeywell Enraf s ter-
minal manager is a Web-based solution
for managing the entire operation in bulk
terminals. Built on Microsoft Windows, it
is used to monitor and control all critical
processes from receipt to dispatch. Inter-
facing with enterprise resource planning
(ERP), access control, loading and un-
loading, workflow management, inven-
tory management, product reconciliation
and documentation systems, it improves
control in real time.
Tighter integration means better con-
trol of security, safety, inventory manage-
ment, reconciliation, order management
and workflows, Mr. Thompson said.
Ultimately, it means operators are more
likely to achieve their business goals.
The configurable workflows and a
modular approach in the latest release
of terminal manager significantly reduce
the time needed to build the system by
minimizing or eliminating the need for
customization to specific operations.
It enables users to quickly set up the
software to give a broad overview and in-
depth control of key parameters such as
product availability and movement, tank
status, alarms, orders, shipments, shifts,
loading bay availability, entries and exits.
Honeywell Enraf s terminal manager
is suitable for all bulk terminals and is
compliant with the latest Experion PKS
SCADA for medium- and large-size ter-
minals, and with Experion HS for small-
er terminals.
Invensys, a supplier of industrial soft-
ware, systems and control equipment to
the hydrocarbon processing industry,
has released a new, cloud-hosted histo-
rian edition that will enable customers
to safely share more plant data with their
workers while lowering their IT burden.
Building on a base of more than 70,000
licenses for this product, the companys
new online edition can help reduce im-
plementation time, provide universal ac-
cess and deliver alternative pricing mod-
els for expanded industry use.
This offering uses a multi-tier histo-
rian database architecture, storing data
from one or more local plant-level his-
torians onto a cloud-hosted, enterprise-
wide instance. Data flows only one
wayfrom the local historians to the on-
line historianand it is protected from
cyber intrusion so it can safely be made
available to more workers for better trou-
bleshooting, reporting and analytics.
The solution leverages Windows cloud
services from Microsoft Corp., so there
is no software to install or set up, saving
on valuable IT resources and reducing
capital requirements. This service will be
offered as a yearly subscription, based on
the number of users accessing the data.
Reporting and analytics are delivered
to the historian online edition through
standard tools, including Invensys desk-
top reporting and analysis client, along
with its mobile reporting solution. Sys-
Interested in Presenting
at GTL 2014?
Call for Abstracts
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annual GTL Technology Forum will be held in Houston, Texas July
3031, 2014. If you would like to participate as a speaker, we invite
you to submit an abstract for consideration by our advisory board.
Suggested topics and areas of interest includes:
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Business Development Director
Adrienne M. Blume
Managing Editor
Carl Hahn
Director, Sales and
Process Technology
Mark LaCour, P.E.
Project Development
and Procurement
Syamal Poddar
Mark Schnell
General Manager, Marketing,
Strategy and New Business
Paul Schubert
Chief Operating Ofcer
Neils Udengaard
Timothy Vail
President & CEO
Norris Conference Centers
CityCentre Houston, TX
P90 PROCESS AUTOMATION | JANUARY 2014 | HydrocarbonProcessing.com
tem users can view the data via multiple
devices, including desktop PCs, laptops,
tablets and smart phones.
This online historian is the first com-
mercial offering from the InvensysWin-
dows cloud relationship, whereby the
two companies jointly develop manu-
facturing operations software that can be
hosted on the Windows platform.
In other company-related news, In-
vensys shareholders have approved the
companys acquisition by Schneider Elec-
tric. At the investor meeting, held back in
October in London, a majority of voting
shareholders (representing 99.94% by
value of those voted shares) voted in favor
of the resolution to approve the scheme.
At the general meeting of shareholders,
99.95% of the voted shares were in favor
of the special resolution to approve the
scheme, well above the 75% threshold
required. Completion of the transaction
remains subject to the satisfaction or
waiver of certain other conditions set out
in the scheme document.
Rockwell Automation has released
an Industrial Data Center product, en-
gineered specifically to help manufac-
turing and production companies take
advantage of the benefits of a fully virtu-
alized environment. This product offer-
ing helps reduce costs by decreasing the
server footprint, extending application
longevity, and improving infrastructure
reliability with management and recov-
ery features.
Although there has been a prolifera-
tion of virtualized servers on the plant
floor in recent years, moving to a virtual-
ized environment can be costly and time
consuming for production businesses,
said Matt Fordenwalt, a Rockwell Auto-
mation executive. The Industrial Data
Center offering from Rockwell Automa-
tion is a cost-effective way for production
companies to more quickly take advan-
tage of this growing trend.
The standard, pre-configured infra-
structure offering represents a complete
turnkey solution that includes hardware,
software, factory assembly, onsite con-
figuration, documentation and tech sup-
port from Rockwell Automation. The
goal for this product is to reduce cost of
ownership and help increase realized sav-
ings for industrial companies over the
lifetime of assets through virtualization.
The Industrial Data Center bundle also
incorporates technology from several IT
providers and the companys strategic al-
liance partners Cisco and Panduit. This
packaged solution includes unified com-
puting system (UCS) servers and cata-
lyst switches from Cisco, and is built in
accordance with the industrial best prac-
tices documented in the Rockwell Auto-
mation and Cisco Converged Plantwide
Ethernet Architectures. Validation and
assembly, led by Panduit, extends conver-
gence to the computing level by combin-
ing their expertise in the enterprise and
data-center markets with Rockwell Auto-
mation industrial expertise.
The Industrial Data Center offering
is available in two versions. One model
is equipped with two UCS servers with
the ability to expand from 3 TB to 5 TB
of usable storage, standard virtualiza-
tion software, 24 rack units, and an op-
erating-system license. The other model
includes three UCS servers that are ex-
pandable from 6 TB to 9 TB of usable
storage, 42 rack units and the operating-
system license.
All equipment is shipped pre-assem-
bled, and also includes onsite configu-
ration and a streamlined maintenance
program that provides a single phone
number to call for support.
Yokogawa Corp. of America has re-
leased its new sensors with a communica-
tion platform product series for the digi-
tal measurement of pH and ORP. This
will join an existing lineup of pH/ORP
solutions that includes the companys
two-wire pH/ORP-transmitter.
The sensors with communication
platform initially consists of a module,
the pH/ORP sensor, a cable, and spe-
cialized PC software. Like its predeces-
sor, the newly released sensor is general
purpose and is suitable for a wide range
of applications. It can store digital data
and be calibrated by using the platforms
software. With these platform products,
customers should be able to reduce the
amount of maintenance work that needs
to be performed onsite, thereby improv-
ing efficiency and reducing costs.
Liquid analyzers are used in the oil,
petrochemical, iron and steel, electric
power, and water supply and wastewater
treatment industries to control the qual-
ity of raw materials and products, moni-
tor reactions and manage the wastewa-
ter treatment process. The properties of
certain solutions may cause damage to
or foul the sensors in these analyzers and
thus adversely affect measurement accu-
racy, so sensor calibration is required on
a regular basis. However, conditions vary
and it is not always safe or convenient
to perform the calibration work onsite,
which usually requires a converter to
store data and the use of standard calibra-
tion solutions. There is a need to move
this work to a safer location and also re-
duce measurement downtime.
Product features. The new item offers
better working conditions and reduced
measurement downtime. The pH/ORP
sensor is able to process digital signals and
store digital information, including cali-
bration data. Using either the PC software
or a transmitter, it can do offline calibra-
tion of these sensors in a laboratory, where
working conditions are optimal. In addi-
tion, the ability to swap out the pH/ORP
sensor and replace it with a calibrated sen-
sor onsite will significantly reduce mea-
surement downtime. Plus, with the soft-
ware, it will be possible to simultaneously
calibrate up to four sensors, significantly
shortening calibration time.
The software features an integrated
database capable of storing data for up
to 100 sensors. This enables predictive
maintenance, allowing service staff to
identify when sensor maintenance and/
or replacement is required. In addition,
there is no longer the need to go onsite
to obtain the data stored on a converter.
Major target markets. Yokogawa is keen
to have its expertise and products known
across the globe. Already, many in the
process industries use Yokogawa, includ-
ing sectors like oil, petrochemicals, iron
and steel, electric power, water supply and
wastewater treatment. Applications for
this new platform include:
Monitor the quality of treated
wastewater and neutralized water
Control the concentrations of
liquid infusion systems
Use a two-wire system to feed
power and transmits signals
through a pair of cables, reducing
wiring costs.
ABB Analytical Measurements has the capacity to address the process
analytical requirements of the modern Oil and Gas industry. The company
counts a large installed base of analytical solutions both upstream and
downstream in major production plants, refineries and petrochemical units.
Our analytical solutions are used in: Gasoline and Diesel Blending, Distillate
Hydrotreating, HF Alkylation, Catalytic Reforming, Hydrocracking, Crude
Distillation, Naphtha Steam Cracking and Downstream Petrochemicals.
For more than 40 years, ABB designs, manufactures and markets high
performance FT-IR and FT-NIR spectrometers as well as turnkey analytical
solutions for several applications. The company capabilities encompass
one of the largest portfolios for laboratory, at-line and process FT-IR analyz-
ers. They perform real-time analysis of the chemical composition and/or
physical properties of a process sample stream. ABBs advanced solutions
combine analyzers, advanced process control, data management, process
and application knowledge to improve the operational performance,
productivity, capacity and safety of industrial processes for customers.
ABB (www.abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technolo-
gies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance
while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies
operates in around 100 countries and employs about 150,000 people.
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of hydrocarbon process stream qualities in a wide variety of renery process unit
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DATA 2014
Hydrocarbon Processing|JANUARY 201493
Ashland Water
Technologies has hired
Jeff Fulgham as vice
president of marketing.
He will be based at
company headquarters
in Wilmington, Delaware.
Mr. Fulgham brings over
30 years of sales and
marketing experience,
primarily in industrial
water treatment, to this
role. He most recently
served as chief sales
and strategy officer for
Banyan Water, based in
San Francisco, California.
He was responsible
for sales, service,
strategy and marketing
for the company,
focused on driving
water conservation for
large commercial and
institutional properties.
Prior to working for
Banyan, Mr. Fulgham
spent much of his career
with General Electric Co.,
serving in a variety of
sales and marketing roles.
EXCO Resources board of
directors has appointed
Jeffrey D. Benjamin, a
long-time investor in
EXCO and an independent
member of EXCOs board,
to serve as non-executive
chairman of the board of
directors. Mr. Benjamin
has extensive knowledge
of EXCO and its business,
having served on the
board since October 2005
and prior to that from
1998 through 2003. Mr.
Benjamin is also a director
of Caesars Entertainment
Corp. and Chemtura
Corp., and is chairman of
the board for Spectrum
Group International.
Spectra Energy Corp. has
appointed Clarence P.
Cazalot Jr. to its board
of directors. Mr. Cazalot
previously served as
executive chairman of
the board of directors
for Marathon Oil Corp., a
position he retired from at
the end of 2013. With the
addition of the Express-
Platte crude oil pipeline
system into our portfolio,
we welcome Clarences
extensive exploration and
production knowledge
and history to the board,
said Bill Esrey, Spectra
Energy chairman of the
board. His insights will be
a valuable addition to the
board table, one already
filled with a wealth of skills
and expertise. Mr. Cazalot
has more than 40 years
of industry experience. He
worked as president and
chief executive officer of
Marathon Oil Corp. from
Jacqueline Lecourtier
has agreed to chair and
lead the deliberations
of DEINOVEs Scientific
Advisory Board (SAB),
which meets twice a year.
She took her new position
at the SABs plenary
session in December. Ms.
Lecourtier is an engineer
from the ecole Nationale
Superieure des Industries
Chimiques (French Higher
National Institute of
Chemical Engineering),
and has devoted 25 years
of her career to the Institut
Francais du Petrole (IFP).
From 2006-2011, she
was scientific director of
IFPEN: French Institute of
Petroleum-New Energies.
NorTex Midstream
Partners has named
Ben Moore to lead the
company as president and
CEO. He joins NorTex with
25 years of experience in
business development,
operations and
engineering in both the
upstream and midstream
energy sectors. Prior to
joining NorTex, Mr. Moore
spent 12 years at Enstor,
Iberdrola Renewables
gas storage subsidiary,
where he served as vice
president of operations
and engineering, as
well as vice president of
business development.
Viega has appointed
long-time employee
Dalyn Cantrell as the new
vice president of sales and
marketing. Ms. Cantrell
replaced Dave Garlow,
who accepted the role as
Viega president and CEO.
Ms. Cantrell has more than
30 years of experience in
the plumbing and heating
industry, beginning her
career in 1983 in customer
service for Vanguard.
Throughout her career at
Vanguard, Cantrell worked
as a customer service
representative, customer
service manager, assistant
to the national sales
manager, director of code
services, regional manager
and, finally, national sales
manager. In 2005, when
Viega purchased Vanguard,
Ms. Cantrell moved into the
position of director of field
sales, with responsibilities
that included directing
and managing eight
regional managers and
all district managers.
Dan Hubbard has been
named vice president
for Willbros Groups gas
processing operations in
Tulsa, Oklahoma. With
this hire, the company will
officially enter the gas
processing plant market.
Mr. Hubbard has 22 years
of experience designing
modular cryogenic gas
processing plants. He joins
Willbros from Hydrocarbon
Processing Technology.
While with Hydrocarbon
Processing Technology, Mr.
Hubbard was responsible
for overseeing the design,
fabrication and installation
of gas processing, gas
treating and nitrogen
rejection plants.
Additionally, he provided
engineering consultation
and design services for gas
processing clients. Based
in Tulsa, Mr. Hubbard will
be responsible for leading
the technical development
of the companys gas
processing plant offerings.
Americas Natural Gas
Alliance (ANGA) has
elected Charles B. Stanley
to be the organizations
chairman of the board for
the 20142016 term. Mr.
Stanley is president and
CEO of QEP Resources. He
has more than 26 years
of experience in oil and
natural gas operations.
Previously, he served as a
director for Questar Corp.
Southwestern Energys
President Steve Mueller
will become vice chairman.
Mr. Mueller has led
Southwestern since 2009.
He has over 30 years of
experience in the oil and
natural gas industry.
Melissa Hockstad has
joined The American
Fuel and Petrochemical
Manufacturers (AFPM)
as vice president of
petrochemicals. Ms.
Hockstad comes to AFPM
as the association expands
its petrochemical division.
Ms. Hockstad brings to
AFPM 17 years of in-depth
industry experience, most
recently as vice president
of science, technology
and regulatory affairs
for the Society of the
Plastics Industry and
the Synthetic Organic
Chemical Manufacturers
Association, where she
served as performance
improvement director.
In other AFPM news,
the industry trade group
has promoted Brendan
Williams to senior vice
president of advocacy.
Mr. Williams joined AFPM
in 2007 and has served as
vice president of advocacy
since December 2011.
Steve Edwards is the
new chairman, president
and CEO of Black &
Veatch, succeeding Len
Rodman. In April 2013,
Mr. Edwards was named
COO of the company
and was elevated to the
top leadership position
following a transition
period. Mr. Edwards
becomes the seventh
person to serve as
president in the companys
history. Before becoming
COO, Mr. Edwards was an
executive vice president
of global EPC for Black &
Veatchs energy business.
MARKETPLACE / Gerry.Mayer@GulfPub.com / +1 (972) 816-3534
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projects and global construction
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name, is the Reader Service Number. There are two ways readers can obtain product and service information:
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ABB Inc........................................................91 (159)
AFPM .......................................................... 44
Axens ........................................................100 (53)
BASF Corporation ........................................ 22 (70)
BCCK Engineering, Inc. ................................. 32 (90)
BiLFINGER Water Technologies ...................... 13 (55)
Burckhardt Compression AG ..........................15 (79)
Calculated Controls ...................................... 28 (80)
CB&I ............................................................16 (51)
Chart Industries .......................................... 25 (72)
CIPPE ......................................................... 84 (158)
DMG Gastech Conference ...............................41
DMG Gastech Young Engineer Foundation ..... 54
DMG World Heavy Oil Congress ..................... 47
Flexim Americas Corp. ................................. 59 (155)
Flexitallic LP ................................................. 5 (93)
Gulf Publishing Company
Construction Boxscore Database .......... 71, 96
Events ....................... 50A, 72, 76, P-86, P-89
HPI Market Data 2014.............................P-92
Marketplace....................................... 9495
Hermetic Pumpen GmbH ............................. 24 (151)
Jonell, Inc ..................................................... 2 (60)
Kobe Steel Ltd ............................................. 49 (81)
Linde Process Plants .................................. 67 (82)
Linde Process Plants .................................... 99 (83)
Lurgi GmbH .................................................18 (101)
Man Diesel & Turbo ...................................... 35 (102)
Merichem Company ....................................... 8 (84)
OHL ............................................................ 52 (153)
Paqell ........................................................ 68 (157)
Pentair ....................................................... 58 (154)
Prosernat ................................................... 43 (152)
Sabin Metals Corporation ..............................21 (68)
Spraying Systems Co. .................................. 53 (66)
Trachte USA ................................................ 64 (156)
Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps .......................... 26 (94)
Wood Group Mustang ................................... 31 (89)
ZymeFlow Decon Technology ....................... 39 (92)
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Phone: +1 (713) 520-4421
Fax: +1 (713) 520-4421
E-mail: Bret.Ronk@HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Josh Mayer
Phone: +1 (972) 816-6745, Fax: +1 (972) 767-4442
E-mail: Josh.Mayer@GulfPub.com
Vic Scalco
Phone: +1 (713) 520-4449
Fax: +1 (713) 520-4449
E-mail: Victor.Scalco@HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Merrie Lynch
Phone: +1 (617) 357-8190, Fax: +1 (617) 357-8194
Mobile: +1 (617) 594-4943
E-mail: Merrie.Lynch@GulfPub.com
Gerry Mayer
Phone: +1 (972) 816-3534, Fax: +1 (972) 767-4442
E-mail: Gerry.Mayer@GulfPub.com
Lee Nichols
Phone: +1 (713) 525-4626, Fax: +1 (713) 520-4433
E-mail: Lee.Nichols@GulfPub.com
Catherine Watkins
Tl.: +33 (0)1 30 47 92 51
Fax: +33 (0)1 30 47 92 40
E-mail: Watkins@GulfPub.com
Fabio Potest
Mediapoint & Communications SRL
Phone: +39 (010) 570-4948
Fax: +39 (010) 553-0088
E-mail: Fabio.Potesta@GulfPub.com
Lilia Fedotova
Anik International & Co. Ltd.
Phone: +7 (495) 628-10-333
E-mail: Lilia.Fedotova@GulfPub.com
Michael Brown
Phone: +44 161 440 0854
Mobile: +44 79866 34646
E-mail: Michael.Brown@GulfPub.com
Brian Arnold
Phone: +61 (8) 9332-9839
Fax: +61 (8) 9313-6442
E-mail: Australia@GulfPub.com
CHINAHong Kong
Iris Yuen
Phone: +86 13802701367, (China)
Phone: +852 69185500, (Hong Kong)
E-mail: Iris.Yuen@GulfPub.com
Alfred Bilyk
Phone/Fax: 11 23 37 42 40
Mobile: 11 85 86 52 59
E-mail: Brazil@GulfPub.com
Manav Kanwar
Phone: +91-22-2837 7070/71/72
Fax: +91-22-2822 2803
Mobile: +91-98673 67374
E-mail: India@GulfPub.com
Peggy Thay
Publicitas Singapore Pte Ltd
Phone: +65 6836-2272
Fax: +65 6634-5231
E-mail: Singapore@GulfPub.com
Yoshinori Ikeda
Pacific Business Inc.
Phone: +81 (3) 3661-6138
Fax: +81 (3) 3661-6139
E-mail: Japan@GulfPub.com
Young-Seoh Chinn
JES Media, Inc.
Phone: +82 (2) 481-3411/3
Fax: +82 (2) 481-3414
E-mail: Korea@GulfPub.com
S. E. Ahmed
Intermedia Communications
Phone: +92 (21) 663-4795
Fax: +92 (21) 663-4795
Rhonda Brown, Foster Printing Service
Phone: +1 (866) 879-9144 ext. 194
E-mail: RhondaB@FosterPrinting.com
This Index and procedure for securing additional information is provided as a service to Hydrocarbon Processing advertisers and a convenience to our readers. Gulf Publishing Company is not responsible for omissions or errors.
98JANUARY 2014|HydrocarbonProcessing.com
Best practices for RO operations
Widespread use of reverse osmosis (RO) technology in
industrial applications began in the late 1980s, following the
introduction of polyamide materials that had a significantly
higher permeate flow and salt rejection than calcium acetate
technology. Since then, spiral-wound RO membranes have in-
creasingly replaced ion exchange for water purification in in-
dustrial applications, especially for boiler feedwater.
Drought conditions and rising demand for fresh water will
increase the usage of RO to purify water from lower-quality
sources. Implementing best practices will maximize the effi-
ciency and quality of product water from RO units, as well as re-
duce operating costs (chemicals and replacement membranes),
the rate of fouling and the frequency of offline cleaning.
Monitoring. Plant operators track key operating parameters
and will conduct an offline cleaning procedure when either
the quality or the quantity of the permeate declines. These key
operating parameterspressure drop (differential), permeate
flowrate and salt passageare strongly temperature depen-
dent. Measuring the changes in these key operating parameters
requires using a complex algorithm to normalize (adjust) the
measurements to a common temperature.
Best practice for monitoring. Collect these key parame-
ters and temperatures with online analyzers and use a software
package to calculate and track the normalization parameters.
Clean the RO when any of these three normalized parameters
changes by more than 10%.
Pretreatment capability. RO membranes remove dissolved
contaminants from water. The presence of any insoluble or
suspended solids in the feedwater will cause fouling of the
membrane surface and increase the frequency of cleaning.
Proper pretreatment will optimize the cleaning frequency to
once every three months or less. An empirical measurement of
small-diameter suspended solids commonly referred to as the
silt density index (SDI) is the correct parameter to predict the
fouling by a specific water source at the inlet to the RO unit.
Best practice for SDI at the inlet to the RO unit. The
SDI of the inlet water for reliable operation are: SDI < 3
No chemical treatment required; 3 < SDI < 5Anti-scalant
chemicals required; SDI >5Additional pretreatment such as
clarification, media or membrane filtration and sodium zeolite
softeners, upstream of the RO unit is required.
Turndown of feed flowrate. Operators sometimes assume
that the presence of a variable-speed drive on the feed pump
means that they can operate the unit at variable flowrates. RO
units are co-flow, rather than cross-flowthe direction of
water flow is parallel to the membrane surface. Consequent-
ly, operation at flowrates significantly lower than the design
rate will dramatically increase fouling rate of the membrane
surface. The best option is to install a permeate storage tank
with a dead band sized to accommodate the normal variability
of treated water demand. The other option is to temporarily
idle one or more skids to make a step-change in the permeate
production rate. Best practice for turndown of feed flowrate is a
maximum of 10%.
Idling. Operators idle membranes based on short- or long-
term changes in permeate demand. Idled RO membranes are
very vulnerable to bacteria growth, especially if the feedwater
is from a surface source such as a river or lake. Failure to prop-
erly idle RO membranes will result in microbiological fouling,
reducing the permeate quality and quantity, and increasing the
offline cleaning frequency. Sequence idling is the recommended
practice to accommodate the normal variability of permeate
demand in an industrial application. Lay-up idling is the rec-
ommended practice for seasonal changes, turnaround or more
permanent reduction in permeate demand.
Best practice for sequence idling. Surface waters have a
maximum idle time of four hours. Well water has a maximum
of one week idle time (unless there is bacterial contamination
in the well). In both cases, flush the membrane with permeate
prior to returning the RO skid to service after the idling period.
Consider periodically feeding the biocide, DBNPA (2,2-dibro-
mo-3-nitrilo propionamide), during service to control micro-
biological growth.
Best practice for lay-up idling. Conduct an offline clean-
ing procedure, followed by a flush with a preservative such
as sodium bisulfite immediately prior to idling. Alternatively,
substitute the biocide, such as DBNPA, during the flush if the
membranes require robust microbiological control.
Best practices yield benefits. RO has become the standard
technology for purifying water for industrial applications, es-
pecially for boiler makeup. Implementing best practices for RO
units will reduce the risk of off-spec permeate and potential
damage or failure to downstream steam generators.
LORAINE A. HUCHLER is president of MarTech
Systems, Inc., a consulting firm that provides technical
advisory services to manage risk and optimize energy-
and water-related systems including steam, cooling
and wastewater in refineries and petrochemical plants.
She holds a BS degree in chemical engineering, along
with professional engineering licenses in New Jersey
and Maryland, and is a certified management
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