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Operating a Safe and Efficient Sour Water Stripper

Safety
Good housekeeping in the Sour Water Stripper unit is very important. Tools, hoses and ladders need to be in the proper location. PPE cabinets need to be stocked. H2S monitors and evacuation alarms need to be regularly tested.

Monitoring
Engineers and operators alike need to be vigilant as to any changes happening in the unit. This can be accomplished by visual verification and Sampling of both Sour Water Feed and Stripped Water be done on a shift by shift schedule, and more often if the process is upset, this would include checking pH. The Sour Water Storage Tank needs to be checked for level and oil pad verification. If there is a reasonable amount of oil, it should be skimmed off. The Sour water Flash drum oil side also needs to be checked routinely for oil side level. Unit Engineers need to be aware of Refinery volumetrics and any plant issues that might affect the storage capacity of the Tank.

Better to keep your Tower looking like this:

SourWaterStorageTower-good
…Thank this:

SourWaterStorageTower-bad
Common Samples:

Stripper Bottoms Ammonia Mg/l Sulfides ppm Mercaptans RSH ppm Bottoms water pH

Rolling Stock
Check pumps and drivers regularly for oil, vibration, seal leaks, hot motor bearings. If there is a seal flush with a strainer it needs to be blown through routinely. A Robust PMP (Preventative Maintenance Program) pays for itself. Fin Fans also need to be checked for vibration and proper lubrication.

Corrosion
Be aware as a Maintenance coordinator, Project lead, Inspector or Engineer, what your metallurgy issues are in a sour water unit. Keep your Inspection program current.

Environmental
Refiners need to adhere to Environmental regulations and understand Maximum Daily allowances for their facility. Units need to be designed to tolerate upsets so as not to flare and in the case of Sour Water Stripper bottoms a near normal pH if routed to Waste Water.

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Posted by: Fernando

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