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ASRL Review

Summary

Sulphur production and management in very large sour gas and oil developments

Abstract

Worldwide production of sulphur is beginning to enter an interesting phase that is making supply/demand issues very difficult to predict. On the one hand, most of the Frasch-mined sulphur has disappeared from the market and is unlikely to return with steeply increasing costs for energy. On the other hand, as is now becoming more evident day by day, sulphur production from oil utilisation will approach a steady-state level as world oil production reaches its maximum level of around 83 million b/d. This factor may cause developers of sour gas reserves to rethink strategies for handling H2S and, in particular, to reconsider sulphur production over the disposal of acid gas or sour gas by injection.

Moreover, any strategy for the development of sour gas reserves may also need to take CO2 management into consideration, regardless of whether the ‘science’ of global warming (of course, now termed “global climate change” by the cognoscenti) has any merit.

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Cost effective CrystaSulf applications

Summary

CrystaSulf is breaking the barrier for small- to medium-scale sulphur removal. It can provide a cost effective option for H2S treating in a variety of applications including: natural gas, refinery fuel gas, HDS hydrogen recycle and Claus tail gas treating. The first commercial CrystaSulf unit is scheduled to go into operation in early 2005. Lisa Connock reports.

Abstract

CrystaSulf is a nonaqueous process that effectively treats gas with too much hydrogen sulphide (H2S) to use a scavenger system, but too little H2S to use an amine/ Claus approach.The CrystaSulf process removes H2S from sour gas and converts it to elemental sulphur. Since it is not adversely affected by many common gas contaminants, Crysta- Sulf is especially cost effective on gas streams with contaminants such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, mercaptans and slugs of liquid hydrocarbons.

In the CrystaSulf process, H2S is removed from the sour gas in a conventional tray absorber.The H2S reacts with dissolved sulphur dioxide (SO2) to produce dissolved elemental sulphur, which has a high solubility in the CrystaSulf solution. Rich solution from the absorber passes to a flash tank (present in high-pressure applications, but not in low-pressure applications).

After the flash step, the solution flows to a crystalliser, where the temperature is lowered and solid elemental sulphur crystals form. The crystalliser/ filter area is the only area where sulphur solids exist within the process, and they are removed by a filter system. The sulphur may be blended with Claus sulphur and sold, used in agriculture, or disposed of as non-hazardous waste.The crystalliser overflows to a surge tank, where a heater raises the solution temperature back to the circulating temperature and ensures that all elemental sulphur is dissolved in the solution. A conventional positive displacement pump transfers the solution back to the absorber.

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Calculations beyond REACH

Summary

New safety regulations for chemicals producers are on the way and Finland is set to host the agency that will coordinate them. Sulphur gathered the views of industry leaders at European, national and company level to gauge the future impact of the new rules. Chris Cunningham reports from Helsinki.

Abstract

Proposed European legislation is causing concern among the EU’s chemicals manufacturers. Called REACH (Regulation, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), the European Commission’s proposal aims to bring regulation of the safe use of all chemicals – raw materials like sulphur and sulphuric acid, as well as final products – under a single umbrella. It is potentially a massive undertaking which, some in the chemicals industry fear, could leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

Through REACH, the European Commission is aiming to raise the stakes in environmental protection, but what are the economic implications? In particular, how do chemicals businesses see the cost implications of more stringent registration of their raw materials and products.

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Refineries cut capacity and sulphur content

Summary

Japan's oil refineries are major suppliers of liquid sulphur to China's burgeoning fertilizer industry. David Hayes reports from Tokyo on recent developments among the country's petroleum processors.

Abstract

Since the late 1990s the Japanese oil refining industry has undergone a series of consolidations as companies have sought to cut costs while the merger process has helped reduce the number of competitors. Refining over-capacity, the high number of gasoline service stations, and continuing high employment levels in refineries are the main problems.

Meanwhile, all Japanese refineries are carrying out upgrading work to reduce the sulphur content level of their gasoline and gas oil products.The sulphur content of all gas oil production in Japan already had been lowered to a maximum of 50 parts per million (ppm) at the end of March 2004, while the target for gasoline is to reduce the maximum sulphur content to 50 ppm by the end of March 2005.

The long term target is to reduce the maximum sulphur content of both gasoline and gas oil to 10 ppm. In fact, some refiners have achieved this target for gas oil production already. According to a source at the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), all refiners are aiming to reduce the maximum sulphur content of their gas oil production to 10 ppm by 2007, though it is possible the target may be reached in 2006.

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On-site acid regeneration lowers costs

Summary

The NIS Petroleum Industry of Serbia has contracted Monsanto Enviro-Chem Systems, Inc. to design a new spent sulphuric acid regeneration plant with ultra-low SO2 emissions for the NIS-Pancv evo Oil Refinery. Matthew D. Viergutz, Sulphuric Acid Plants Marketing Specialist at MECS discusses the catalyst and regeneration technology that will be installed to recycle acid from the alkylation unit.

Abstract

The NIS Petroleum Industry of Serbia’s Pancvevo refinery was badly damaged as part of the NATO bombings that took place in 1999. One part of the plant that was not affected was the alkylation unit. It was built in the early 1990s and uses Stratco reactors. It operated for a short time but was shut down for a number of years during and after the war. It restarted several months ago and is currently producing alkylate.The alkylation unit exports sulphuric acid at approximately 90% concentration, with the balance consisting of hydrocarbons and water. Since fresh acid is required to maintain operation of the alkylation unit, the refinery is currently sending its acid offsite for treatment and purchasing new make-up acid.

In July, 2004, NIS and Monsanto Enviro-Chem Systems, Inc. (MECS) announced an agreement for MECS to design a new spent sulphuric acid regeneration plant for the Pancvevo refinery. MECS will provide technology and basic engineering as part of the contract.

The new spent acid regeneration plant will produce 30 t/d of 99.0% sulphuric acid according to the MECS dry gas process using proven absorbing tower technology. The new acid regeneration plant will allow NIS to recycle acid from the existing Stratco alkylation unit on site instead of shipping it to another location.

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Upgrading natural gas with Morphysorb®

Summary

A new physical solvent process for acid gas removal from gases with high concentrations of CO2 and/or H2S has been demonstrated at commercial scale at the Kwoen Gas Plant in British Columbia, Canada. Uhde's Morphysorb® technology is now available for the cost effective sweetening of natural gases, synthesis gas, or landfill gas to meet pipeline or LNG specifications.

Abstract

The upgrading of natural gas requires the removal of CO2, H2S and any undesired trace constituents present in the natural gas such as carbonyl sulphide, carbon disulphide and mercaptans. The clean gas specification for natural gas is generally 2% or 50 ppmv for CO2 and less than 4 ppmv for H2S. The use of physical solvents for the removal of acid gas from pressurised gases with a high concentration of CO2 or H2S offers considerable advantages regarding lower regeneration energy requirements as the solvent is mainly regenerated through a simple pressure reduction.

The Uhde Morphysorb® technology is a new acid gas removal process based on the use of a physical solvent consisting of the morpholine derivatives N-formylmorpholine (NFM) and N-acetylmorpholine (NAM). It is the result of extensive laboratory research and a series of field tests by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and Uhde’s R&D Centre.

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BHP Billiton increases its nickel production

Summary

A new state-of-the-art 4,400 t/d sulphur burning sulphuric acid plant is a critical component of the Ravensthorpe Nickel Project in Australia. The acid plant represents the largest single design and construct contract for the facility. The acid will be used in the Enhanced Pressure Acid Leach hydrometallurgical process to produce a mixed nickel and cobalt hydroxide intermediate containing up to 50,000 t/a nickel and 1,400 t/a cobalt.

Abstract

BHP Billiton’s combined Ravensthorpe Nickel Project and Yabulu Refinery expansion is an A$ 1.4 billion project in Australia that will produce high quality nickel metal and cobalt for global export markets.

The two components of the project are:

  • Construction of a new mine and processing facilities at Ravensthorpe in Western Australia (Ravensthorpe Nickel Project) to produce a mixed nickel and cobalt hydroxide intermediate product (MHP);
  • Expanding QNI Yabulu Refinery near Townsville, North Queensland to process the intermediate product from Ravensthorpe (Yabulu Extension Project).

Up to 220,000 tonnes of MHP from Ravensthorpe will be exported for processing at the Yabulu refinery each year. This will increase the annual production of the refinery to 76,000 tonnes of nickel and 3,500 tonnes of cobalt. Nickel ore imported from the Asia-Pacific region will also continue to be processed at Yabulu.

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Reactive crystallisation saves energy

Summary

Messo Technologies Group has developed a new design of reactive crystallisation system for the recovery of ammonium sulphate from acid wastewater in methyl methacrylate manufacture. Because the Messo process is basically self-sustaining in energy, operating costs are dramatically lower compared to the conventional evaporative crystallisation route.

Abstract

In the manufacture of methyl methacrylate (MMA), acid wastewater is usually neutralised with ammonia and the resulting ammonium sulphate is recovered by evaporative crystallisation. However, high energy costs and a low value for the recovered product is making this process increasingly less profitable.

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The natural way to process sour gas

Summary

Canada's PrimeWest Inc. is using sulphur-eating microorganisms to process high-pressure sour gas at its Valhalla gas processing facility. By installing the Shell-Paques process, it has improved its environmental performance and reduced operating costs by not using third-party, off-site sulphur processing plants.

Abstract

Following the success of the first biological desulphuriation plant at Encana in Canada (see Sulphur No. 285), PrimeWest Energy Inc. has become the second North American company to apply the Shell-Paques process to treat high pressure sour gas.

In the Shell-Paques process, naturally occurring sulphur oxidising microorganisms simultaneously purify natural gas to sales specifications and provide 99.9+% sulphur recovery by converting hydrogen sulphide to fertiliser grade sulphur.The process eliminates the need for continuous flaring and virtually eliminates hydrogen sulphide based emissions from sour gas facility vents.

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STARS catalysts undergo reactivation

Summary

Three new STARS catalysts with superior HDS and HDN activity have been introduced by Albemarle Catalysts/Nippon Ketjen to help refiners meet clean fuels specifications. In addition, a new breakthrough STARS reactivation technology has been developed to optimise catalyst usage.

Abstract

To meet the demand for clean transportation fuels, high activity catalysts are needed. In 1998, Albemarle Catalysts (formerly Akzo Nobel Catalysts) and its Japanese joint venture partner Nippon Ketjen successfully introduced a new concept in the manufacturing of hydrotreating catalysts called STARS.The STARS technology maximises the activity of the active sites through a proprietary patented manufacturing route. Two catalysts were commercialised on the basis of the STARS concept:

  • Ketjenfine 757 (KF 757), a superior CoMo catalyst for ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD)
  • Ketjenfine 848 (KF 848) an ultra high activity NiMo catalyst for hydrocracker pretreat operations (HC-PT).

In both catalysts the number of “Type II” active sites was optimised, which resulted in superior activity.

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