Decontamination of a crude/vacuum unit (TIA)

A major oil company wanted to make a final validation of ITW Online Cleaning and ITW Improved Degassing/Decontamination technologies to use them strategically for future turnarounds/slowdowns as well as proactively during the run.

Marcello Ferrara
ITW Technologies

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Article Summary

This company had already demonstrated many positive applications of ITW technologies in their refineries and wanted to have a long term contract.

It was decided to have an application in the most critical CDU/VDU in the company’s plant. The CDU/VDU processes 100% opportunity and heavy crudes. Online Cleaning was performed on the entire CDU/VDU and lasted 24 hours. Subsequently, as the oil company wanted to further recover downtime (and reduce steam-out requirements), ITW applied its Improved Degassing/Decontamination technology, which lasted for only four hours. At manways opening, the following results were achieved: LEL = 0%; hydrocarbons = 0 ppm; H2S = 0 ppm; benzene = 0 ppm; ammonia = 0 ppm; pyrophorics = nil.

Moreover, for the first time in the unit’s history, no ‘contingency plans’ were used to enter the equipment; in particular no breathing apparatus was required. Additionally, there was no need for column wetting as pyrophorics were completely eliminated. All the maintenance operations were conducted under dry conditions.

Visual inspection of the bundles confirmed the results of Online Cleaning. Cleaning of the CDU/VDU also included two huge desalters, and this was performed simultaneously with the rest of the unit. Cleaning of the two desalters took about 12 hours. No waste was generated and all of the washing fluids were fully reprocessed without a problem. For improved degassing/decontamination, the condensate was routed directly to the oily sewage. Again, no problems were recorded at the API separator/wastewater treatment plant.

Among other operations, ITW technologies can be applied as follows:
• Avoid a production unit turnaround to clean the equipment (one day’s Online Cleaning vs about 25-30 days related to mechanical cleaning, including shutdown/start-up operations)
• Regular application to production units to increase run length and improve opex
• Rescheduling of future turnarounds’ downtime by taking into consideration both reduced time for safe entry and reduced need for cleaning exchangers.

The technologies can be used to clean storage tanks on a closed-loop basis, with no man entry.

This short case study originally appeared in PTQ's Technology In Action feature - Q2 2016 issue.

For more information: mferrara@itwtechnologies.com

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