It’s All About Working With the Right People

Successfully debottlenecking a refinery involves working with specialists. Refinery operators and engineers need to be asking contractors the right questions which will include:

  • Do you have experience in refinery debottlenecking?
  • What inventive methods do you employ?
  • Can you provide evidence of your experience?
  • How will you approach our debottlenecking problem?
  • Do you understand how this particular activity will affect the rest of our plant?
  • Who will be on the team that comes to my plant?

Heat exchangers need to be cleaned regularly. In practice, maintenance schemes for heat exchangers are based on legislation, which means that inspection and cleaning  is required every two to four years. However, it is likely that some heat exchangers should be cleaned more regular, because the savings achieved by thermal efficiencies and increased production capability will rapidly outweigh the extra costs of a cleaning exercise.

Quite often large amounts of time and money are spent on unnecessary inspections of heat exchangers brought about by doubt caused by heavily scaled tubes that could harbour under scale corrosion. Tube scale is often so hard that no inspection tool can provide a suitable reading or even be pushed down a tube.

What is the solution? It’s simple – clean it with the right technology at the right time. It is clear and evident that a cost-effective cleaning strategy is needed for heat exchangers in a train.

Forming a debottlenecking plan for cleaning activities can pay dividends. For example: Separating out and prioritising exchangers which are:

a) critical path,

b) difficult to clean,

c) Those that never seem to be cleaned effectively in the time allowed, and

d) those that are removed to a cleaning bay.

Finding the best practice solution for each selection should make debottlenecking cleaning activities run more smoothly instead of simply using the same tool for all.