A Gulf Coast refinery processing high rates of light-tight oils (LTO) was concerned about potential downstream impacts from tramp amine contamination. The site needed the data necessary to make informed decisions on appropriate mitigation strategies.
The main issue was the high potential for amine salt (MEA Chloride salts) formation in the top of the tower at current operating conditions. The refiner did not want to forego higher margin jet/kero production rates by raising the tower top temperature, or change the crude slate to a higher cost blend, that would avoid the salting potential.
Knowing the MEA loading leads to a more optimized acidification program to ensure target amine removal rates are achieved, saving the refinery an estimated $4M.
Partnering with Nalco Champion, a step-wise approach was initiated whereby the refinery crude flexibility would remain intact. The first step involved the PAT to provide frequent amine data. The second called for acidification best practices that effectively remove the offending MEA.
Now armed with regular MEA data, a more optimized acid dosage could be set to ensure the target amine removal rates would be achieved, avoiding salting and moving out of the danger zone. The value of this approach is estimated at $4-5M in reliability gains.