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A fuel’s errand

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The petrochemicals and refining industry is receiving much attention in terms of investment and technology.

by jayashree kini-mendes

A critical factor for the refining and petrochemical industry is predictive and preventive maintenance. The petrochemical industry remains the main energy hub for our world today through ranges of products coming from its ambit but not without its own challenges too. One of which is the issue of breakdown or shut-down which always require maintenance. More often than not shut-down is planned (annual, quarterly, condition-based, time-based, preventive and so on). But it is the unplanned ones (run-to-failure) that are a cause for concern.

It is for no reason that any petrochemical plant is flanked with several workmen constantly shuttling between the boilers, pipelines, compressors and pumps. In any case, maintenance personnel (mechanical, electrical and instrument) must perform their duties to fix it. Some of the factors affecting the effectiveness of the personnel are overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), precision maintenance, computerised maintenance management system (CMMS), work order management, logistics, process optimisation, supply chain management, continuous improvement hours, among other things.

More than 50% of downtime in this industry is due to equipment failure. On the other hand, repair time elongation could be prolonged due to the complexities of the equipment, nature of failure and lack of skilled maintenance personnel.
Nikunj Dhanuka, MD & CEO, IG Petrochemicals, says that it is for this reason his plant in Talegaon has preferred to automate processes so that they can reduce downtime to a minimum.

There are several advanced instruments and technologies available that will allow companies to plan, execute, manage and control their business processes.

Leave them the devices
Many companies today continue to use yesterday’s technologies in their business processes. Due to a lack of alternatives or purely out of habit (“we’ve always done it this way”), many tasks are still performed with clipboard and paper. These archaic methods bring increased risk and inflexibility to the business, being error prone and inefficient. They also lead to mobile workers carrying more than they should when walking around the site, creating a potential safety issue.

ecom instruments was the first manufacturer to develop an ex-certified mobile phone, and has launched numerous innovations for mobile communication in hazardous areas over the last 30 years. The latest devices, the world’s first and only 4G/LTE Android Tablet Tab-Ex 01 and the 4G/LTE Android Smartphone Smart-Ex 01 for use in Zone 1/21 and Division 1, open up the advantages of the Internet of Things. They modernise data capture and simplify voice/video collaboration between the mobile workforce and the experts at the control centre. Many challenges in hazardous areas can be solved with the use of these digital tools. Accurate and timely information regarding the position and condition of mobile workers, equipment and material are critical for all companies, enabling predictive maintenance, the safe storage and transport of sensitive goods, and better visibility and control to prevent unplanned downtime and safety incidents.

Another prominent technology that allows users to detect a wide temperature range for various applications is available from Keysight Technologies, Inc. The company offers higher temperature models to its thermal imagers’ portfolio. The U5856A and U5857A can perform temperature measurements up to 6500C and 1,2000C respectively. Ee Huei Sin, VP, Keysight Technologies says that with the shift towards predictive maintenance in industrial settings, the U5850 series allows technicians and engineers to efficiently and safely detect abnormalities without shutting down the system. With a good 0.070C thermal sensitivity, users can capture, save and analyse temperature changes accurately.

For fire detection, Hochiki Europe has introduced an innovative fire detection range that is independently evaluated and certified to meet the strict requirements of Safety Integrity Level 2 (SIL2) to the Indian market. A SIL rating applies to an entire system and is used to reduce risk and improve safety through a formalised and quantifiable methodology. It does this by measuring safety system performance and the probability of failure on demand – a value that indicates the likelihood of a system failing to respond to an emergency event. There are four integrity levels associated with SIL, in ratings 1-4. The higher the SIL level, the lower the probability of failure on demand and the better the performance of the safety system. It is important to also note that, in the vast majority of cases, as the SIL level increases, so does the complexity of the system. Rohit Harjani, country manager at Hochiki Europe, says, “‘Thanks to the versatility of SIL certified products, businesses can rest assured that their safety systems are compliant in a whole range of sectors. We work extensively within the oil and gas markets, which is why we have developed a SIL2 range. The investment we have made in obtaining this approval and extending the product range to India is an indication of our commitment to helping the fire safety market.”
An all-in-one analysis and information management software platform for asset reliability and asset integrity comes from Bentley Systems. The company has comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure through AssetWise APM V7.3. Alan Kiraly, Bentley senior VP, server products, said, “Our AssetWise APM V7.3 meets the demanding requirements of reliability, integrity, safety, and maintenance managers and engineers in oil and gas, petrochemical, and mining and metals to power generation. Users further benefit from the elimination of unexpected downtime, increased asset availability and utilisation, reduced maintenance costs, and support for regulations and safety standards, including ISA 84, IEC 61511, IEC 61508, and IEC 61882.” Capabilities include safety instrumented function (SIF) analysis, safety instrumented systems (SIS), safety integrity level (SIL) and safety provisions, overrides, and incidents.

Upcoming projects
India is at present adding its refining capacity in line with growing energy requirement and with an ambition to emerge as a regional refining hub. State-owned refiners which supply autofuel to neighbouring markets like Bangladesh and Nepal are in the process of expanding their presence in these markets. Last month, Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) signed an agreement with the Rajasthan government to set up a nine million tonne joint venture refinery at a cost of Rs 43,129 crore. The project includes a petrochemicals complex too. The proposed refinery will be able to process local crude from Vedanta Ltd’s Barmer oil field in the state as well as imported crude. Vedanta, which recently merged its group company Cairn India with itself, is planning more investments into enhanced oil recovery from its Barmer assets.

Another state major, Indian Oil (IOCL) is planning to build a new oil terminal at Motihari in Bihar to supply fuel to neighbour Nepal through the planned pipeline up to Amlekganj in Nepal. As per the initial agreement, a new 200-km pipeline at a cost of Rs 700 crore is being laid between Patna and Motihari and will be used in case the new terminal at Motihari is not operational by the time the pipeline to Nepal is ready.

India is also looking to invest in a colonial-era Sri Lankan oil-storage facility as it seeks to further its naval interests in the Indian Ocean and push China back in the process. A unit of state-owned IOCL, the country’s largest refiner, is set to help fund the $350 million development of an 84-tank facility at the strategically located Trincomalee port on Sri Lanka’s east coast. India and Sri Lanka are also discussing setting up a refinery in the island nation.

Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL), Purnendu Chatterjee-owned The Chatterjee Group (TCG) has started consolidating itself in the state, making Haldia, a port city in West Bengal its stronghold in the country. TCG has decided to set-up a refinery in Haldia at an investment of Rs 26,000 crore and has already floated a company, which will become the holding company for the new venture. For the project, it has acquired around 800 acres of land and has asked the state government to allot another 1,700 acres.

The various initiatives by state governments and vendors are helping the petrochemicals industry regain its lost momentum in adding capacity to reinvigorate export potential.

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