Project Synopsis

Process design for modifying one of the crude unit’s preheat trains in order to achieve the optimum temperature and control for the desalter.

Project Summary


The client operates an independent refinery. The client hired Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to provide a process design for modifying one of the crude unit’s preheat trains in order to achieve the optimum temperature and control for the desalter. The crude desalter was designed for a lower than optimum temperature which resulted in poor desalting efficiency. Since the original design, the crude slate has become heavier exacerbating the poor original design. PROCESS was able to achieve the optimum design by re-arranging the order of the preheat exchangers through simple piping modifications. PROCESS also verified the hydraulic constraints and the potential impacts on crude supply pumps, desalter water pumps, and desalted crude booster pumps. PROCESS identified the cooler desalter water temperature as a potential problem for desalter mixing along with the high brine temperature as a problem for downstream tankage and recommended the installation of a heat exchanger designed to recover heat from the brine into the desalter water thus recovering energy, improving crude/water mixing, and protecting brine tankage. The client approved the scope change and PROCESS completed the exchanger design. PROCESS also recommended a partial bypass valve to be installed around one of the preheat exchangers to allow the client to control the desalter temperature below an upper equipment reliability limit.

Process also provided technical expertise for the successful completion of the project HAZOP and management of change.

PROCESS then provided project management services by interfacing with a third-party construction company to complete the detailed piping, foundation, and structural design, and to ensure successful project implementation meeting all process objectives.

This project was on a tight execution schedule in order to meet a scheduled maintenance turnaround and PROCESS was able to meet all schedule milestones. The deliverables resulting from this project, including preliminary process flow diagrams (PFDs), heat exchanger specifications, etc. and were compiled in a project report submitted to the client.

Industry Type

  • Petroleum Refining

Utilized Skills

  • Heat transfer system optimization
  • Equipment specifications
  • Project management
  • PFD and report generation

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