With wildly fluctuating crude prices compressing refinery margins,
stable and efficient vacuum tower operation is more critical than
ever to refinery profits. Many refineries run up to five years
with good vacuum tower yields. Others have consistent problems
getting past an eighteen month run. Major sources of lost profits
include coking, high pressure drops and internal leaks. Simple
tools, costing less than $200 each, used correctly can identify
and track these common vacuum tower problems. Knowing problems
before a shutdown cuts maintenance costs. Unscheduled procurement
and work may cost as much as ten times (or more) than scheduled
work . Knowing what when and how a problem starts is key to solving
it. Reliable operation increases overall plant profits. Two case
studies of high vacuum tower losses are examined.
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