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Publication > Issue > Articles

Island in the sun

Summary

In the first of a two-part special report on Trinidad, Nessa Keogh looks at the gas industry which is the cornerstone of Trinidad's success in the global ammonia, urea and methanol markets.

Abstract

Economic downturns often prove to be a blessing in dis guise. In the case of Trinidad, over-reliance on the petrodollar led the country into a long period of economic depression which began in 1982 and lasted until 1991. Years in the economic wilderness forced the Trinidadian government to look beyond the role of oil in its economy to the country's other resources, namely natural gas, to lead the country out of depression. Today, the development of a non-associated natural gas industry has created an economy where diversification, export-led growth and a greater role for the private sector are the key players. Point lis as industrial estate in the west of Trinidad is the focal point of much of the country's current economic success. A new industrial estate at La Brea to the south of Point lisas, is expected to feature strongly in future economic drives.

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KAFCO comes to fruition

Summary

The KAFCO project, which struggled for survival for almost 20 years, from conception to commissioning, has finally become a reality. KAFCO is the first multinational 100% export oriented ammonia/urea complex in South Asia.

Abstract

Under normal circumstances, the political, economic and natural upheavals, indeed disasters, which Bangladesh has experienced since the late seventies, when the KAFCO project was first conceived, would have been more than enough to destroy any chance for the realization of far more prestigious and important projects than KAFCO. Incredibly, the project has survived 15 years of turmoil and continuous setbacks to finally achieve reality in late 1994. A cornerstone of the project has been the involvement and support of not only the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) but 11 international gbvernmental agencies, a feat perhaps never achieved before for a project of this nature and magnitude.

When on January 23, 1995, the first shipload of refrigerated ammonia product sailed from the KAFCO jetties located on the east bank and close to the mouth of the River Karnaphuli in Chittagong, it was the culmination of years of intensive effort and the realization of a dream conceived almost two decades earlier. Thus, KAFCO owes its existence to the monumental dedication, perseverance and tenacity of a core group of investors who, for one reason or another, conceived, promoted and single-mindedly pursued their objective of creating one of the most complex projects in the history of the fertilizer industry.

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Refing reforming technology

Summary

Although steam reforming of hydrocarbons has been applied industrially for many years and is therefore considered a mature technology, important new developments are constantly being made in both equipment design and catalysts.

Abstract

Production of synthesis gas or syngas (mixtures of carbon monoxide and hydrogen) is an important first process step in the manufacture of numerous chemicals including ammonia and methanol. Most of the synthesis gas plants built today are based on steam reforming of hydrocarbons. In some cases catalytic auto thermal reforming is used, either alone or in combination with a steam reformer. The use of noncatalytic partial oxidation is rare in new plants, since it is seldom competitive with steam reforming. The scope of this article will therefore be limited to steam reforming.

The most common type of steam natural gas reformer is a fired heater containing nickel catalyst-filled tubes. Different burner arrangements within the fired tubular reformer provide a range of firing patterns:

  • Bottom fired
  • Terrace wall fired
  • Top fired
  • Side fired

Different companies favour different burner arrangements (see Nitrogen No. 199).

Setting process design parameters and catalyst selection as well as mechanical considerations such as reformer tube material selection, and stress calculations are key elements in reformer design.

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