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Sulfur Plant: A Forgotten Area of the Oil Refinery

On February 15, 2016, posted a blog article by Steve Pagani titled The Forgotten Areas of an Oil Refinery. The article offers tips on understanding several of the vulnerable areas in an oil refinery.  One of those areas mentioned is the Sulfur Plant.


Understand your acid gas and sour water balances. Too often, knee jerk reactions are made when acid gas and sour water capacities are pushed to the limit. It’s important to know where the sources of each are and which ones can be trimmed back most efficiently.

If you operate close to SRU incinerator emission constraints, take a quick look at sulfur recovery in your Claus reactors.  There are some refiners who operate reactor outlets well above the dew point buffer temp, thus resulting in lower sulfur conversion.

How well are your tail gas analyzers calibrated? The sulfur conversion reaction is an equilibrium reaction that requires a fine balance of H2S and SO2. Skewed analyzer readings can reduce sulfur recovery.

Most of the safety concerns in sulfur plants are focused around H2S awareness. While this is justifiable, many tend to forget about the hazards of molten sulfur exposure during startups and unit upsets.  Simple devises such as Sultraps can be installed to improve SRU personnel safety.


I agree with all these points and would like to add two more:

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Posted by: Noel Vicente

Mr. Vicente has extensive knowledge and experience in the sulfur recovery industry having worked with Sulfur Recovery Engineering, Sulfur Engineering Solutions, and now Sulfur Unit a part of Refining Community. Noel has worked in all aspects of the Sulfur Recovery Unit such as Analytical and Field Testing, Operations and Troubleshooting, Pre-Commissioning and Commissioning, Process Engineering and has been involved with the start-up/ shutdown of various refineries and gas plants worldwide. On top of his credentials, Noel is an experienced instructor/trainer, who is able to make difficult concepts easy to understand for all. He conducts onsite training for sulfur plant operators and key staff for refineries and sour gas processors around the world. Noel also teaches fundamental engineering theory review courses to foreign trained engineers.

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