Improving performance of global refinery operations

21 May 2012

Invensys Operations Management has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Valero Energy Corporation, for the use of Invensys Operations Management’s ACA.HF Advanced Alkylation Measurement Solution.

In the first phase, Valero will implement the solution at seven refineries globally. The Invensys solution monitors and measures hydrofluoric acid levels in real-time by analysing differential responses from online sensors, helping to improve safety, reliability and environmental performance of the refinery and creating new opportunities to reduce operating costs.

Commonly used in petroleum processing, hydrofluoric acid is a toxic catalyst that needs to be carefully managed and controlled. Accurately analysing how much HF is re-circulating within the process contributes significantly to increasing the efficiency of the refinery because it can improve crude stock yield and associated costs. Early approaches to HF monitoring involved taking manual samples and analysing them in a laboratory. This approach however, even when carefully executed, potentially exposed lab workers to severe toxins, and its accuracy was limited. And while more recent techniques can produce more accurate readings, their adaptation for real-time online monitoring is complex and costly.

However the advanced measurement solution, offers a simple, cost effective and safe solution for task. By using real-time online sensors instead of people, it significantly reduces the possibility of accidental exposure, thereby diminishing the risk to employees and curtailing the potential for environmental hazards. Because it replaces conventional manual laboratory sampling and other types of analysis, it can improve the efficiency of the operation while lowering costs.

“We are committed to developing and delivering innovative solutions that help our clients, including Valero, increase the safety and reliability of their operations,” said Maxie Williams, vice president and enterprise client executive, Invensys Operations Management. “An integral component of our InFusion Enterprise Control System, the HF alkylation measurement solution can openly communicate with a larger refinery and enterprise-wide control, information and decision-support system to provide real-time data and analysis. Because it is built from rugged materials long proven in industrial HF applications, implementing it costs about half that of other systems and requires little maintenance, with estimated mean time between failures exceeding 29 years. It is a perfect example of how we are combining advanced control and instrumentation to improve and optimise the real-time safety and performance of the operation.”

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