Sicilian refiner completes emissions-reducing upgrade

Oct. 19, 2020

Raffineria di Milazzo SCPA (RAM)—a 50-50 joint venture of Eni SPA and Kuwait Petroleum International Ltd.’s (Q8) Kuwait Petroleum Italia SPA—has completed an upgrading project at the associated RAM-owned Termica Milazzo SRL’s combined heat and power plant (CHP) of RAM’s 10-million tonnes/year refinery on the northern coast of Sicily in Milazzo, on the west side of Messina Strait.

Part of a broader project to extend the CHP’s operational flexibility, achieve major integration with the refinery, and decrease total emissions from the site at turndown, the CHP modernization—executed by GE Gas Power—involved upgrading the plant’s 9E gas turbine with GE’s Axial Fuel Staging (AFS) technology, GE said on Oct. 1.

Until this project, RAM and the Termica Milazzo CHP plant—located about 500 m from the refinery—were totally separated from both an electrical and automation standpoint. With the turbine modernization now completed, all electrical energy consumption of the refinery (770 Gw/hr in 2018) is fully supplied by the upgraded gas turbine, which provides sustainable electricity with cost-competitive economics, according to GE.

Alongside the lower load operation positioning Termica Milazzo to respond faster to bidding opportunities in the region—which experiences frequent shifts in grid demand due to renewable power fluctuations—the combination of lowering operating costs and capturing new revenue streams also can help the plant grow its profitability through more competitive operating profiles so that it is now possible to modulate net exported energy production of the refinery and CHP in an extended range to potentially participate in the Italian Balancing Services & Capacity Market, further enhancing the project’s economic benefits, according to the service provider.

“We needed a solution that would allow us to use more flexible power and steam for our industrial process at our site, and GE’s 9E gas turbine upgrade at our Termica Milazzo site met all of our project expectations and requirements,” said Stefano Bertazzi, RAM’s project manager.

“The new combustion system configuration increased the flexibility, efficiency, fuel savings, and consequently, the overall sustainability of our refinery,” added Gianfrancesco Licandro, RAM’s process and technology support manager in charge during the modernization project.

“In addition, by reducing load minimum turndown of the gas turbine, we can match potential energy trading market opportunity and add new revenue stream by the ability to sell additional power range to the grid which we were unable to do before,” Licandro said.

Following the AFS upgrade, GE’s gas turbine on-site now has alone a turndown of less than 40% ISO nominal power, corresponding to a target of about 50-55% of the entire thermal combined-cycle performance, drastically lower from its previous 80% turndown level. Additionally, by derating exhaust masslow at turndown, AFS technology has enhanced the gas turbine’s part load efficiency, which in turn has improved the plant’s emissions sustainability and led to an estimated annual savings of about 20% in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as well as imonoxide (CO) and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, GE said.

Equipped with a nameplate distillation capacity of 20.4 million tpy, RAM’s Milazzo refinery via off sites and utilities has about 50 Mw of nominal power generation towards 90-95 Mw of electrical load consumption internally installed, as well as about 300 tonnes/hr of total internal-steam production capability.