Client: Southeast refinery
Sectors: Petrochemical and refining
Fixing the vacuum distillation process
Vacuum distillation is a critical part of the refining process. To produce gas oils of acceptable quality, a delicate balance between the vacuum pressure and the heat of the system needs to be maintained.
A southeast refinery was struggling to get it right. The pressure wasn’t low enough and the chiller wasn’t cool enough. The resulting gas oil was off-spec. To fix the problem, the refinery had resorted to blending fire water with the discharge water from the chiller. As a result, operating costs were mounting.
Project fact file
Increased capacity and improved efficiency
Our APS team set to work diagnosing the problem and quickly discovered the cause of the imbalance – the existing cooling unit was undersized by 50%. Armed with this knowledge, we engineered an energy-efficient cooling system that would stabilise vacuum tower pressure at the desired lower level. The whole thing was fully operational within four days.
Quotas met while saving US$30,000 per month
With our cooling system up and running within days, cost savings quickly added up: US$20,000 a month from reduced power costs, and a further US$12,000 a month by eliminating the fire water blending process.
More importantly, our cooling stabilised the system at an ideal low pressure, helping the vacuum distillation tower do a much better job. With the gas oil meeting specifications at the desired feed rates, our customer could now consistently meet production quotas.