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Production Process Insights

How to Maximize Your Budget with Custom Butane Sampling Solutions

Posted by Randy Cruse on 8/17/20 8:00 AM

Custom Butane Sampling

Industrial and economic influences frequently squeeze plants to do more with less. But necessity breeds invention: fueling innovation and a creative approach to solving industries’ most pressing challenges. As an example, despite increased commercial and technical challenges, hydrocarbon plants are still able to execute representative sampling by implementing custom solutions in C3 and C4 sampling.

successful c3/c4 sampling

To obtain the refined propane and butane products, the C3 and C4 reaction products undergo pressurized fractional distillation. The process conditions and distillation column size separate the feed streams into light and heavy product streams. The lighter propane and butane fractions rise to the top of the column for extraction, and the heavier waste products fall to the bottom of the tower for disposal or recycle. On average, propane and butane account for 1-4% of processed crude oil.

Sampling is critical to monitoring the amount of impurity in the product streams in these reactions. Without accurate sampling, operators are unable to make proper adjustments to the process due to the variable levels of contaminants present in the system, impacting process accuracy. Process engineers can also use sampling as a primary or secondary form of verification to assure process quality.

robust sampling processes

Maintaining a robust sampling approach requires several processes and system steps to ensure process efficiency and quality:

  • High flow rate requires rate sensitivity control when collecting from a hot fluid line
  • When process fluids exist as a two-phase mixture, you should add a provision to guarantee an outage
  • Operators should have access to a flare and vapor recovery before uncoupling with the cylinder. This step prevents exposure when they uncouple a cylinder
  • Sampling process needs to ensure technicians and collect a sample representative of the target process

Incorporating these recommendations into a C3 or C4 sampling requires a solution to be individualized that may seem cost-prohibitive, but an expert partner can offer a significant advantage. A skilled custom sampling partner can leverage industry-wide expertise to map a custom solution that fits within the project budget without sacrificing performance or quality.

cost effective, custom solutions

A large petroleum company wanted to sample butane (C4) from a hot line. However, negative economic impacts, coupled with unfavorable oil & gas pricing, expanded the cost of a brand-new sampling solution beyond the defined project budget. They looked for a partner to help them utilize and restore existing capital, provide a new piece of equipment, and integrate the system components and balance of plant hardware.

The plant brought the sample cooler and cylinder as well as several fittings to the project. The Sentry Equipment team fabricated a vapor-liquid separator and modified an existing stainless-steel panel for the new sampling system’s valve configuration. Once finalized, service experts executed the installation of the custom system while the plant provided final connections and drafted the operating procedure.

By leveraging technical expertise and knowledge of sampling best practices, this petroleum plant was able to meet budget constraints. This close collaboration required an innovative approach to utilize existing materials. The result was a high-performance, high-quality system that met the commercial constraints posed by the market climate and commodity prices, enabling the project to meet all defined requirements and deliverables.


Meet your plant's specialized needs while maintaining budgetary and sampling constraints with a custom sampling solution. Learn more about how our service team can make this a reality here

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Topics: Hydrocarbon Processing, Liquid & Slurry, Gas

Written by Randy Cruse

As Senior Service Manager, Randy dedicates his lengthy career to developing and delivering service programs designed specifically for refineries and their sampling programs. He understands the risks and safety requirements that come along with being a service provider in the Oil & Gas industry and brings that expertise to each and every call.

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