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Central Asia's sulphur conundrum

Summary

Oil and gas production from the Caspian Sea area continues to increase, but dealing with the volumes of sulphur produced are a continuing headache, and sulphur management and logistics have come to the fore in the minds of project developers.

Abstract

The Caspian Sea region has extensive reserves of hydrocarbons, and has seen major development activity in the past two decades. Hydrocarbon production in the region comes from both oil and natural gas. As Figure 1 shows, the oil fields (with associated gas and condensate) are predominantly in the north of the region, and the natural gas in the south. Much of the oil and gas is highly sour, and so regional sulphur production is significant.

While Russia is the largest producer in the region, there is also significant oil and associated gas activity in Kazakhstan, while Turkmenistan is a major gas producer and exporter, and Uzbekistan is a lower level but still important producer.

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Changing sulphur fuel regulations

Summary

While levels of sulphur in vehicle fuels are already down to 10-15 parts per million in Europe and North America, low sulphur fuel regulations are steadily spreading, with knock-on effects for the refining industry and its sulphur production.

Abstract

The permitted sulphur content of vehicle fuels has been steadily shifting since the 1980s. Most sulphur – all but a tiny fraction – must now be removed from gasoline and diesel in European and North American refineries, but over the past decade regulations have begun to shift in the developing world as well. The effect is likely to be a lot more sulphur from refineries in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America over the coming years.

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It's all in the preparation

Summary

For the cleaning of gases from non-ferrous metallurgical plants prior to the production of sulphuric acid, various process steps and types of equipment are applied. An optimised design for the gas purification and cooling system is very important for sulphuric acid product quality, long service life and a cost effective plant.

Abstract

The SO2-laden off-gases from non-ferrous metallurgical plants, such as roasters, smelters or converters, contain residues of dust with heavy metal-oxides (Cu, Pb, Zn, As, Fe, Mo, Hg, etc.) as well as SO3. The performance of the downstream equipment in the contact plant and the impurity levels of the sulphuric acid produced from the plant (i.e. acid quality) are both critically dependant on the installation and operation a quality gas purification system. The functions of the gas purification and cooling system are to clean and cool the gas.

While the basic steps are quite similar for most of these plants, the actual configuration, layout as well as the materials of construction have to be determined on the basis of a number of parameters, for example, gas composition, temperature, dust properties, requirements for the sulphuric acid quality, local conditions and others.

The system must be designed for the expected inputs in the gas feed (e.g. high solids, high halides, high volatile metals, high temperature or high SO3) and to operate for the expected campaign between the scheduled maintenance shutdowns and not require major rebuilds that could extend the shutdown time.

In addition, the system should not consume excessive quantities of energy either in blower power or in extremely high liquor circulation rates.

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Sulphur in Iraq

Summary

After years of going nowhere, the pace of development of Iraq's upstream and downstream sectors has suddenly picked up. Is Iraq set to become a major exporter of sulphur as well as oil and gas?

Abstract

Iraq’s turbulent recent history must surely make it one of the unluckiest countries in the world. Saddam Hussein’s rise to power in 1979 was swiftly followed by the debacle of the eight year Iran-Iraq war, which cost over a million lives for no gain, and just two years after that armistice was signed the 1990 invasion of Kuwait led to the first Gulf War, military defeat by a UN coalition and a decade of punishing economic sanctions. Finally, and most recently the disarmament crisis following on from the first Gulf War led to the 2003 US-led invasion and its terrible aftermath, as reconstruction was hampered by a growing domestic insurgency. It has taken seven long years for the security situation to begin to ease and some measure of stable domestic government to emerge, and the situation remains precarious to say the least.

Iraq’s recovery from the traumas of the invasion has been a slow one, but seems to be accelerating as stability returns. Growth was 9.8% in 2008 and even in 2009 declined only to 4.3%. As the recession eases this is set to continue to pick up. But in spite of seven years and billions of dollars, oil production re­mains stubbornly stuck below pre-invasion levels (themselves hampered by years of sanctions and the aftermath of the war against Iran). According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, Iraq produced 2.48 million barrels/day of oil in 2009, still lower than its 2001 production of 2.52 million bbl/d.

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Meeting performance targets

Summary

Sulphur reports on some of the latest designs and initial performance results of a selection of new sulphur recovery projects around the world. The projects described illustrate some of the unique challenges and requirements of modern world scale plants.

Abstract

With the successful start-up of the new sulphur facilities at Reliance’s Jamnagar Refining Complex comes insight into a first of a kind operation: subdewpoint sulphur recovery paired with amine-based tail gas treating. Black & Veatch (B&V) has been designing and building cold bed adsorption (CBA) subdewpoint sulphur plants and amine-based tail gas treating units (TGTUs) for decades, but never before have the two been integrated within a single complex.

The motivation for combining the two technologies was the basis of an article in Sulphur, No. 312. Here, B&V discusses the outcome of the primary design concerns, as well as providing an overview of some of the key commissioning, start-up and initial operation activities carried out in 2Q/3Q 20091.

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The Sulphur Doctor

Summary

Problem No. 2 Poorly designed or constructed reaction furnace of the SRU. Based on his wide and varied experience in the design, operations, trouble-shooting, and remedial problem-solving of Claus SRUs, B. Gene Goar of Goar Sulphur Services & Assistance continues his series of short articles on "common problems" with Claus sulphur recovery units by turning his attention to the reaction furnace of the SRU.

Abstract

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