Plant upgrading project underway

abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 11 Mar 2013 19:54


For many years, the topic of refinery upgrade has existed in the top circles of KPRL’s management but with the commitment of the new shareholders ESSAR, the budding dream has finally blossomed.

KPRL’s Manager in charge of Technology Nelson Karisa is currently overseeing the implantation and foresees an introduction of new products, a reliable and consistent flow of products and improved production efficiency with the tapping of important inputs.

The upgrade will touch on four major areas which include Product Specification, Environmental regulation, Electricity generation to tackle the constant power dips and water supply.

Product specification
The constantly changing consumer needs has brought about a rise in importation of finished products making the refinery uncompetitive and constraining its full utilization by half.

This has been a big challenge for KPRL which has a simple configuration without the capabilities of producing high value products as compared to other refineries in the world.

With this in mind, the board agreed to introduce a new technology that will ensure the crude oil is fully converted into highly valuable products and modifying the existing units to improve on their efficiencies so as to maximize the shareholder’s value.

Karisa explains that the upgrade will for instance allow the making of low sulphur diesel which has been elusive with the current technology possible as well as enhancing unleaded gasoline with the incorporation of more efficient units in the plant.

Environmental regulation
The introduction of new products will give rise to new environmental concerns thus stringent environmental emission standards will have to be enhanced for compliance with laid down limits.

A sulphur recovery unit that will convert sulphur from the sulphur treating units it into elemental sulphur.

The upgrade will have units that recycle the waste streams converting them into valuable by – products alongside the acquisition of other units like amine treaters, sour water systems and an effluent treatment plant.

Globally, most refineries generate their own power but KPRL has for a long time depended on supply from the national grid which has proved expensive because of its instability and unreliability.

With this in mind, the upgrade will include a captive power plant that will see the refinery being self reliant in terms of power generation.

KPRL’s management also intends to produce more than the required 8 megawatts per day and send it to the national grid hence availing additional power to the public.

Currently, the refinery uses about 2 million litres of water daily. The availability of this water on a daily basis to sustain normal operations is always uncertain causing interruptions due to water shortages. This amount is expected to increase further to about 6 million litres per day at the completion of the upgrading project.

With the current uncertainties and future projections in water usage, the upgrade will be putting up systems to treat sea water and make the refinery self reliant in water.

The water will then be pumped to the plant from the desalination plant at the Kipevu Oil Terminal via a pipeline.

Karisa said the upgrade activities are at an advanced stage and the commissioning of the units would be done in early 2014 though the power generating plant will be operational much earlier.

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