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Ethylene plant needs fast emergency cooling

Client: Gulf Coast ethylene plant

Location: USA

Sectors: Petrochemical and refining

The challenge

Stop domino effect of cooling tower collapse

At any processing plant, downtime is a big issue. When it costs $5 million a day, it becomes even more serious. A Gulf Coast petrochemical plant was faced with this costly headache when two cells collapsed in the cooling tower used for ethylene processing. 

Given that ethylene processing is the first and most important event in the petrochemical product chain, this disaster would have a domino effect throughout the entire plant. Feedstock to downstream units would be reduced by 20–40%, causing a massive economic impact. With repairs slated to take one month, the plant needed emergency back-up.

Project fact file

per day estimated cost of failure $5,000,000
Cooling equipment 60,000tons
Powering the package 12.3MW
Cable laid 9miles

The solution

Emergency cooling online in six days

At $5 million a day, the faster a fix is found, the better. We got to work straight away assessing the damage and installing temporary cooling. Given the size of the facility, this was no mean feat. In total, we shipped out 60,000 tonnes of cooling capacity – 30,000 tonnes for immediate use, the rest for back-up – and 12.3 MW of power, nine miles (14.5km) of cable, diesel tanks and more. And it took us just six days.

“When costs are quickly mounting, there’s enormous pressure to respond fast. Luckily, our ‘quick fix’ is always an exceptional one.”

The impact

Refinery avoids losses of $5 million a day

With our cooling system installed in six days, our customer dodged economic disaster. A fast response got the ethylene unit back up and running at full capacity so it could produce the right level of feedstock to keep downstream units running. The refinery could then focus on fixing the damaged cooling tower cells without the added pressure of knowing that the repair job was costing up to $5 million a day.