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Publication > Issue > Articles

Too much becomes too little

Summary

Over- or under-supply? Prices continuing unstable? Refineries threatened by sulphur mountains? Gerard E d'Aquin, President of Con-Sul Inc, summarises the springtime prospects for sulphur trade along the Gulf coast.

Abstract

Refiners marketing sulphur in the United Sates experienced a significant improvement in demand during the fourth quarter of 2001. Phosphate fertilizer producers in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas increased production when Chinese and US farmers started purchasing phosphate fertilizers in October.

But the concurrent need to increase the supply of sulphur – one of three basic raw materials in producing these fertilizers – was ignored. Fertilizer producers seemed to assume the matter would be ”taken care of”, as has usually been the case, but shortages appeared. Sulphur consumption should continue to exceed availability during most of the first half of 2002 as phosphate fertilizer producers maintain the current rate of output, a dramatic turnaround from the critical oversupply of sulphur which affected refinery operations in mid-2001.

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Optimising Claus operation with oxygen

Summary

The use of oxygen in Claus plants is now well established and brings real value to Claus plant operators. Competent burner designs and evaluation techniques, as well as improved SRU refractory designs, have been fundamental to optimising SRU operation with oxygen. Lisa Connock reports on recent trends to improve the use of oxygen technology in sulphur recovery units.

Abstract

In recent years, the drive towards clean air and clean fuels has created great demand for additional hydrodesulphurisation and sulphur recovery capacities in refineries and gas plants worldwide. For many operators, the most economical route to increase the capacity of their Claus sulphur recovery units (SRUs) is to apply oxygen enrichment in their existing SRUs. Oxygen enrichment is also finding application to meet requirements for SRU redundancy, improved ammonia destruction and improved sulphur recovery. The use of oxygen in Claus SRUs is now well established, with over one hundred installations worldwide.

In general, commercially available technologies offer three levels of oxygen enrichment representing three incremental steps for capacity expansion, equipment modifications and capital investments.

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