The Monitor

Production Process Insights

Improve Refinery Processes Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by Randy Cruse on 5/6/19 8:00 AM

Why small things like sample bottle caps and septa are big things in a hydrocarbon processing plant

Accurate fiscal calculations, allocations and loss control are essential for a healthy hydrocarbon processing operation. It is also why you need to pay close attention to your sampling program. Sampling downstream and hydrocarbon-related liquids and gases such as crude oil, condensates, and oil and water mixtures means that it is critical to ensure quality control by determining product properties and composition that can directly affect your operations.

A properly designed sampling system ensures representative process samples are repeatable and reliable, every time to help refineries:

  • Maximize return on investment 
  • Better manage loss control
  • Reduce operating costs 
  • Comply with industry standards for sampling practices, such as API MPMS CHAPTER 8.2, ASTM D4177 and ISO 3171

The best hydrocarbon liquid and gas sampling solutions provide consistent performance over a wide range of applications and conditions. To meet the demanding and rugged environments of production, hydrocarbon liquid and gas samplers should be able to handle most temperatures and other process conditions. 

However, as sampling systems age it's inevitable that efficiency will decrease. Coolers lose capacity due to calcification, valves and safety devices begin to wear and leak and analyzers can fail to deliver consistently accurate measurements.

Case study: Increased emissions and unreliable releases from sampling equipment

That’s exactly the situation that a large refinery in Louisiana found themselves in when they experienced increased emissions and unreliable releases from their sampling equipment.

The refinery's samplers were running at various stages of life – the longest of which being approximately three years, all needing different levels of maintenance attention. During a full-panel inspection of over 150 panels, issues with their samplers stemming from the current needle design were discovered.

small Retrofit = large impact

The resolution to the issues was to retrofit the needles on every sampler with coax needle assemblies, a special coaxial needle system that dramatically reduces the risk of being bent or broken. The combined “needle in a needle” design easily aligns with bottle insertion for the most representative and safe sampling. 

This seemingly small, but critical change helped the refinery:

  • Decrease emissions
  • Increase reliability  
  • Reduce the cost of a complete upgrade/installation 
  • Ensure maximum up-time of their sampling and analysis program 

Proper sampling knowledge and experience can mean saving big

As this refinery learned, maintenance programs are essential to ensuring efficient operations, and knowing even the small details can mean saving big money on replacement and retrofit projects.

If your refinery's samplers are in need of an inspection it is critical to have an experienced team to help evaluate and address all sampling issues. Retrofit services can help improve your efficiency of a single sampler or an entire sampling program. By protecting plant assets, we help you confidently ensure the safety of your plant operators and maintain uninterrupted production.

Learn how Sentry ProShield Install and Retrofit services can help your facility.

Be Sentry Ready - Proshield Lifecycle Services


Topics: Downstream, Solids & Powder, Liquid & Slurry

Written by Randy Cruse

Picture of 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.