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A Brief Guide on the Stages of Oil Refining and Preventative

Maintenance
Maintenance

Crude oil requires processing before use and the three stages involved are separation, conversion, and treating. For crude oil to undergo processing, it is first stored in reliable tubes like the 321 stainless steel tube for refinery inspection. Given the presence of stabilizing titanium in this type of tube, it is resistant to corrosion and shows toughness both in low and high-temperature conditions.

The oil can be subjected to heating in the 321 stainless steel tube for refinery purposes. The three stages involved in oil refining include:



Separation

The oil molecules are first separated through a process referred to as atmospheric distillation. It is also known as the topping. This process involves heating the oil at a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees making it vaporize. The heating usually takes place at the bottom of a distillation column. As the heating continues, vapors rise while the heaviest molecules remain at the bottom.

As soon as the vapors rise, condensation of the molecules into liquid occurs. Only the vapor reaches up to the column. The liquids in the column often become lighter hence their collection on trays that are differently located in the column heights. A different petroleum fraction that is highly viscous is then collected in every tray.

The heavyweight residuals left after atmospheric distillation has taken place contain different products that are of medium density. The residuals then undergo another distillation to recover middle distillates such as diesel and heavy fuel.



Conversion

After the separation process is over, some heavy hydrocarbons are found to be present. For the heavy molecules to become light, they undergo the process of cracking where each molecule is broken into two. The conversion process also referred to as catalytic cracking is usually done maintaining a temperature of 500 degrees. It is referred to as catalytic cracking because it uses a catalyst to increase the reaction speed.

The process is used to convert heavy products into diesel, gas, and gasoline. To increase production, a process known as hydrocracking is preferred which involves the addition of hydrogen. A deep conversion can also be used to remove carbon.

Remember, the operation uses more energy as the reaction becomes very complex. This in return makes it very costly. The objective of each refining industry is to achieve the equilibrium between the product and the rates of conversion.



Treating

This involves reducing or doing away with very corrosive molecules and that causes air pollution. Today, diesel and gasoline that are sold in the market cannot comprise more than 10 milligrams per kilogram or more than 10 parts per million of sulfur. This is to ensure improved air quality and optimization of catalytic converters used in the treatment of exhaust gas.

Sulfur removal is done at a maintained temperature of 370 degrees and pressure of 60. The hydrogen gas that is used in this process combines with sulfur to create hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide then undergoes treatment for sulfur removal which is then used in the industry.

Propane, kerosene, and butane are cleaned using sodium hydroxide solution for the removal of thiols commonly known as mercaptans through the process of sweetening.

And, here are the preventative maintenance guidelines for your oil refinery equipment:

Maintaining an oil and gas refinery appears to be expensive and time-consuming especially when a traditional maintenance method is used. Maintenance on your own is not usually effective as you may experience environmental hazards, scheduling constraints, equipment inaccessibility, and human error. Below are the steps for implementing and designing a preventive maintenance program for the gas and oil industry.



Maintenance Programs Overview

Before planning a preventive maintenance program, it is important to first consider the features of traditional maintenance program.

The following are the key objectives for preventive maintenance:

  • To increase the possibility of the equipment to function safely, reliably, and optimally in a particular environment
  • To prevent equipment failure or downtime
  • To reduce the operational costs of the equipment
  • To quickly respond to any equipment failure or malfunction

To anticipate potential equipment malfunction and to exercise consistent lubrication, inspections, parts replacement, and calibrations that may prevent equipment failure

The following are the types of maintenance in the gas and oil industry:


Preventive Maintenance

It involves planned, specific, and periodic tasks that keep the equipment in worthy working order. The normal maintenance tasks consist of checking oil leakage, inspections, and lubrication. Preventive maintenance assists in taking precautionary steps to reduce equipment failure or malfunction.


Corrective Maintenance

It involves repairing the failed equipment to bring it in its functional condition. It is not a preferred form of maintenance hence could be avoided by executing preventive maintenance.


Predictive Maintenance

This type of maintenance involves the usage of measurements to estimate the equipment's lifetime. It supplements preventive maintenance and requires a close association with the equipment suppliers.

In the end, preventive maintenance saves a lot of money that may be incurred during industrial production.

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