The increase in local demand for energy and higher capital cost for new energy generation and distribution systems projects have resulted in energy conservation becoming a larger and more significant portion of the whole industrial community in general and the oil and gas processing industry in particular. In oil refining, for instance, such cost may reach up to 50% of the total plant operating costs. Thus, refinery people for instance; need to find out on constant basis where their energy dollars are going and how to save it as much as possible.
Energy Conservation in Plants and Refineries
Several approaches have been used by the hydrocarbon industry in energy conservation effort. One is as old as the hydrocarbon business itself, was to optimize energy recovery from large energy users like fired heaters and boilers, improve performance of heat exchangers and reduce energy losses caused by steam leaks, vents, blow downs and insufficient insulation. Nowadays, energy efficiency optimization activities go beyond the equipment level to include process unit(s), collection of process units, plants and even a collection of several plants. Last but not least, it even considers the simultaneous optimization of both process plants and utilities plants.
In any process plant nowadays there are several areas of inefficiencies and rooms for improvements. These areas of inefficiencies and rooms for improvements are normally inter-linked to different process configurations, feed conditions and operation severities and so on. Just to mention few of them which sound familiar , we have the steam traps leakage, condensate return loss, boilers working at partial load without economizers, fired heaters with high stack temperatures, lack of combustion gas turbines air inlet cooling, lack of using combined cycle instead of simple cycle, ignoring better heat exchangers network (HEN) configurations, not using water instead of refrigeration, not operating rotating equipment close to its best efficiency, energy loss due to product over specification, flare losses, lack of feasible compressors inlet cooling, losses due to inefficiency of refrigeration systems and sub-optimal chilling temperatures and so on.