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A Louisiana Refinery Success Story
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"Refining 155,000 barrels of crude oil daily, a Louisiana plant markets oil products to gas stations in at least 26 states, including Washington, D.C. The plant uses 8,538 steam traps with 1,200-, 600-, 250-, 75-, 40- and 15-psi nominal pressures. Standardized with inverted bucket steam traps, the Louisiana refinery’s maintenance and energy coordinator was content with the results. The Spirax Sarco Inc (SSI) team demonstrated SSI’s Energy Service Group (ESG) capabilities and successes to the refinery manager, operations manager and production manager. From 2004 through 2006, the team presented a series of ESG seminars at the refinery site. The numerous models demonstrated quantitative savings with 3- to 12-mo paybacks. For a complete SSI turnkey program, for example, the SSI team presented an ROI with less than six months payback. The ESG survey found that only 3,952 (46.3%) of the steam traps were operating correctly. The remaining steam traps experienced a variety of failures, including: 613 (7.2%) that failed open; 2,763 (32.4%) were cold; 1,012 (11.9%) that failed closed; 6 (0.0%) exhibited rapid cycling; and 192 (2.2%) were disconnected. The team also found performance and temperature issues with the HP sulfur reactors in the SRU units, largely due to the application of inverted bucket steam traps. Plus, as a result of excessive steam leaks, the sulfur reactors were creating a safety hazard. When these results were presented, management agreed that the sulfur reactors needed process improvement. The SSI team recommended replacing the inverted bucket steam traps with 1-1/2-in. strainers and 1-1/2-in. flanged float & thermostatic steam traps. They also suggested that the existing trap discharge piping should be removed and re-piped with globe-style bypass valves and gate-style isolation valves to reduce flow velocity. Once the SSI team began negotiations, it only took one survey for the Louisiana refinery to realize all the energy savings opportunities. In fact, the ESG survey uncovered more than $1.3 million in steam losses through failed steam traps and another $1 million in steam leak opportunities and production, process, safety and environmental improvements. Impressed with the survey results, the refinery approved the estimated $110,000 turnkey project, which offered a 5.3-month payback. Further negotiations netted the team annual steam trap surveys for the next three years, as well as an approved 2008 energy budget of $600,000. Additionally, the Louisiana refinery has indicated that upon successful completion of the ESG program, SSI’s annual energy budget will increase to $1,000,000."
Kacsur, D. (2009). A Louisiana Refinery Success Story. Energy Systems Laboratory. Available electronically from