Interest in renewable diesel has increased significantly in recent years. In 2019, the estimated US renewable diesel consumption was 900 million gallons  followed by an estimated 960 million gallons in 2020. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years. Conversion of existing petroleum facilities to renewable diesel production provides an appealing path for many producers, but careful evaluation of the conversion must be performed to ensure that the facility is operating safely and in full compliance with PSM standards. While the existing relief and flare systems may have been adequate for the petroleum refinery service, these systems should be reviewed and redesigned along with the new process as the demand on these systems can significantly change.
After spending over 20 years in the cold Midwest winters and suffering through plant freeze ups, my mind is racing with what to look out for as things thaw back out. Please see my thoughts on instrumentation, dead legs, and a few other things to look out for based on my years of experience in the freezing weather.
About the Author
Christopher Heflin is a degreed Chemical Engineer from Texas A&M University with over 8 years of experience in pressure relief analysis and relief system software, and is the lead training instructor for Salus and Data Insights courses both locally and internationally. He also plays an active role in the development of new features as well as ongoing software support.
Despite the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, we have happily added several new members to the Salus family as an increased drive toward digitization and organization sweeps the industry. As a result, Salus has streamlined migration efforts for client’s existing data – whether in digital or physical copies – to be utilized efficiently in the software.
The COVID-19 Challenge
As the COVID-19 disease became a pandemic in the span of mere weeks in USA (months for the world), most of us who work in the process safety/engineering field has probably asked, or been asked:
- What kind of precautions have you taken to minimize the COVID-19 spread through:
- Human contact
- Computer equipment
- Shared office spaces
- Common areas
- How do you determine “non-essential” personnel that should not have access to your facility?
- What is your contingency plan if/when travel or access is restricted?
- How can you keep normal work efficiency for these “non-essential” personnel working offsite?
- What kind of resources do you need to work offsite?
Anyone tasked to start up a unit knows the engineers who designed it rarely miss a thing...
Every bleeder valve is in the right place, spectacle blind turned correctly, and bypass line scrutinized. So why would the flare and relief systems design be any different? The truth is that they are not. Engineering Firms today have perfected the art of throwing waves of engineers on design-build projects. Unfortunately for those engineers, relief and flare system designs are governed by a maze of regulations, codes, standards, and guidelines (collectively known as Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practice or RAGAGEP). Experienced Project Managers understand that relief and flare specialists are needed to ensure their projects are safely and properly designed before any construction occurs.
Regulators will often require that a facility review their process safety management systems on a routine basis. These audits can be performed with internal or external resources. A PSM covered gas plant in the U.S. wanted to hire a consultant to perform an audit. Furthermore, the site wanted the results presented in such a way that they could understand and improve upon the shortfalls of their PSM systems. Based on conversations with other gas plants in the region, the site selected Smith & Burgess to perform the audit.