Amid the rising demand for Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) storage facilities, understanding the correct procedure for storing and handling HFO is extremely important. Having overseen the design, manufacture, assembly, testing, commissioning and on-time delivery of several HFO storage facilities, Energas Technologies has proved its prowess in this field.

Energas Technologies, a leading supplier of high-end and specialised equipment to the oil and gas industries in sub-Saharan Africa, reports an increasing number of enquiries related to HFO storage facilities.

As the need to build new storage facilities and expand existing one’s increases, Laetitia Jansen van Vuuren, Product Engineer at Energas Technologies, says the company is well-positioned to execute the full value chain of these projects. “We have over the years proved our capabilities in delivering full turnkey projects of this nature,” she says.

In recent years, Energas has delivered, on time and within budget, a few HFO storage facility projects. Two flagship projects that quickly come to mind are the design and supply of an HFO storage and heating facility for a mining project in the Western Cape and the supply of a packaged HFO heating system for a local oil storage facility upgrade.

Electric heating system

At the mining project, Energas was commissioned for the design and supply of an HFO storage facility. The scope of the project, explains Jansen van Vuuren, entailed the process, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation design, fabrication, construction and commissioning. Included in the project specification were two 80 m³ tanks, an off-loading pump skid and a pump and heating skid.

The HFO is received heated in road tankers and is pumped into the storage tanks. HFO is pumped through an inline explosion-proof electric heater, supplied by the company, Exheat, to heat the HFO to more than 100⁰C, to be used in a burner. To maintain the tank temperature well above the pour point, HFO is circulated through the tanks. Protectoseal conservation vents on the tanks prevent overpressure or excessive vacuum which could cause damage to the tanks.

Thermal oil heating system

In another project of note, Energas supplied a packaged heating system for a local HFO storage facility. HFO is stored in large tanks, and by its very nature, has high viscosity at ambient temperatures. Viscosity is a measure of a fuel’s resistance to flow. At a higher viscosity, it is more difficult to pump the HFO. Therefore, before loading into tanker trucks, the HFO needs to be heated to a temperature well over the pour point, typically in the order of 60⁰C.

To this end, Energas supplied a packaged thermal oil heating system, which is being used to heat HFO from 20˚C to 80˚C. The system comprises a gas-fired oil heater, thermal oil circulation system and control system with heat exchangers.

“The packaged unit is fully automated and runs unattended. The control system is interfaced with the plant SCADA system, which means that making remote changes on the heater is possible,” explains Jansen van Vuuren.

The thermal oil packaged heating system boasts several advantages, including increased productivity due to higher process temperatures; lower investment costs due to lower operating pressure of the thermal oil compared to steam; lower operating and personnel costs through unattended operation; low maintenance costs; and world-class product support.

Apart from the extremely compact design of the package, the outstanding advantage of the HTT principle is that it dispenses with a fireclay-lined furnace. This permits heat storage masses to be reduced to a minimum, a particularly impressive breakthrough which eliminates the thermal overloading of the heat transfer medium that was previously unavoidable in the event of an unscheduled shutdown, and an important step towards maintenance-free heaters. The system is operated either with natural gas or with LPG.

The complete heat transfer facility was installed outdoors, so all the components had to be weather resistant and winterised. This meant that all the equipment had to be fitted with a rainproof weather jacket to guard against inclement weather, as well as high-quality corrosion protection.

“We believe that Energas secured these projects due to our capability to deliver the entire scope and having access to experienced consultants and reputable suppliers. The success of these projects highlights our reputation of providing excellent service and on-time delivery,” concludes Jansen van Vuuren.

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