April 2003

Special Report: Maintenance/Reliability

Combine temperature surveys, field tests and gamma scans for effective troubleshooting

Each method offers pros and cons; yet combined, these techniques form a powerful tool to diagnose operational problems in fractionators

Duarte Pinto, R., Perez, M., PDVSA El Palito Refinery; Kister, H., Fluor

The El Palito Refinery experienced poor separation with the facility's atmospheric and vacuum crude towers. The refinery troubleshooting team combined temperature surveys, field tests and gamma scans to correctly identify where and why problems were occurring. These correct diagnoses led to correct solution, circumvented expensive unnecessary overkill solutions, minimized yield and production losses, reduced shutdown time and developed better planning for maintenance. Poor separation root causes. A recent survey identified liquid/vapor maldistribution as the prime cause of packed fractionator malfunctions. Plugging, overflow,

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