California refiner identifies crude tower instability using root cause analysis

An atmospheric crude tower at Atlantic Richfield Co.'s Carson, Calif., refinery experienced a severe operating instability shortly after being revamped. During the revamp, high-capacity trays were installed in the mid-pumparound (PA), and heat exchange surface was added to the top and mid-PA circuits.The problem was unrelated to the new trays, although they were initially suspected as the cause.The problem's root cause was the draw pan above the new trays, which had been in the tower since the original design.Low-cost modifications to the draw pan completely eliminated the instability, allowing full benefits from the tower revamp.The key to the revamp's success was systematic ...

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