The Hot Tap and Stopple (HT&S) team is on 24-hour standby to ensure that no disruption occurs to the company’s flow of oil through its vast network of pipelines.
With the average daily crude oil production of 2014 at 9.5 million barrels per day (mbd), keeping pipes that transport the crude functional is essential. This makes maintenance a delicate matter, and a standard repair would previously require shutting down pipelines — and disrupting operations — for several days.
The HT&S team has changed things; making it possible to safely cut into pipes, created a temporary branch to bypass the flow around the area requiring maintenance, and then replacing the valve — all without interrupting the pipeline flow.
Hot Tap and Stopple
Hot tapping is one of the most tested techniques for conducting repairs to a pipe or vessel while still under pressure.
The Hot Tap team can bore holes as small as one-quarter of an inch and as large as 56 inches into pipes that they repair. They can also operate in temperatures as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit and 2,220 pounds per square inch of pressure.
Stopples are plugs that temporarily plug functioning pipes to isolate a segment for repair or modification. Stopple operations can isolate pipes up to 60 inches in diameter, and can operate at temperatures as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures as high as 1,800 pounds per square inch.
Demand and Growth
Currently, Saudi Aramco’s HT&S team is the Kingdom’s only provider of hot tap services, and demand is strong. Nearly 200 HT&S operations are conducted per year over the past five years, and this number is likely increase as the company expands into petrochemicals and the Kingdom’s manufacturing industry grows.
The HT&S team currently services both company operations and third party partners.
The University of Oxford has conferred the title of Visiting Professor in Engineering to Gautam Kalghatgi, internationally renowned for research in the fields of fuels, combustion and engines.
Professor Kalghatgi is engaged at Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center in Dhahran. He works on better understanding fuel requirements of engines and on developing new, optimized fuel/engine combustion systems.
His recent work at Saudi Aramco demonstrates the implications of engine technology developments on the manufacturing and marketing of future transport fuels.
In his new role, he will teach and do research in the university’s Department of Engineering Science.
As the global energy demand for commercial transport increases more rapidly than for passenger cars, the availability of light low octane fuels will increase. Highly efficient engines which can use such fuels have to be developed to ensure the sustainability of future transport, including fuels manufacturing.
One option is Octane on Demand where spark-ignition engines run on such fuels and use high-octane fuel only when needed. The other option is to use such fuels in diesel engines (Gasoline Compression Ignition, where they are particularly suited to achieve low particulates and NOx, a major problem with conventional diesel engines.
Dr. Kalghatgi has contributed significantly to the scope and execution of two flagship programs in both these areas. He helps guide the research programs in fuel technology at the Saudi Aramco centers in Dhahran, Paris and Detroit.
He has an association with Imperial College London as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and has held similar appointments in the past with the Technical University of Eindhoven, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm and The University of Sheffield.
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has appointed him to the International Scientific Advisory Board of their Clean Combustion Center. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in the United Kingdom and of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and is on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Engine Research, IMECHE Journal of Automobile Engineering, and SAE Journal of Fuels and Lubricants. His book, “Fuel/Engine Interactions,” was published by the SAE in 2014.
Environmental assessment discovers dhubs on intended project site.
Dhub, or spiny-tailed lizards, spend most of the day basking in the sun, so they typically inhabit rocky areas with good shelter for when they need to burrow underground. However, they have suffered rapid population declines in recent decades due to habitat loss and overhunting.
Today the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the species at regional and international levels as “Vulnerable.” This means they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Relocating the Dhubs
Bulk earth moving work and site preparation activities for the Fadhili Gas Plant were scheduled to begin mid-April of 2015. To protect the local dhub population, Aramco’s environmental protection department arranged to capture and relocate the reptiles before construction activities at Fadhili began.
Relocation activities began in March 2015, and the dhubs have successfully been moved to their new home in a protected area within Manifa and are doing well.
Further monitoring of the relocated dhubs will continue for many months, and they are expected to start breeding in the spring season and bring to life a new dhub colony at Manifa.
Saudi Aramco publishes Aramco World six times a year to increase cross-cultural understanding.
The magazine’s goal is to broaden knowledge of the cultures, history and geography of the Arab and Muslim worlds and their connections with the West.
The print edition is distributed without charge, upon request, to a limited number of interested readers worldwide.
Visit Aramco World to read the current issue and back issues of the magazine.
The Berri Gas Plant department (BGP) has successfully commissioned and started-up a new, more efficient ethane liquefaction exchanger at the Ethane and NGL Recovery plant.
The new liquefaction heat exchanger has permanently replaced BGP’s existing ethane liquefaction unit and is the latest in their efforts to increase plant energy efficiency.
The Older System
The existing ethane liquefaction system was complex, consisting of 30 pieces of equipment and two big compressors to reach the required conditions for the ethane liquefaction system. This system was hard to operate and costly to maintain due to the quantity of instruments and the age of rotating equipment.
The old system also negatively impacted the environment by flaring 4 million standard cubic feet per day (scfd) of ethane due to recycle compressor trips. The liquefaction rate was also limited to 20 million metric scfd.
BGP recognized an opportunity to improve its ethane liquefaction process and minimize energy consumption by integrating the ethane and NGL recovery plant (Plant F-20) with the liquefaction process.
The initiative uses the available cryogenic process stream from de-methanizer overhead (-160° F) to liquefy ethane product. A side slip stream of de-methanizer overhead exchanges heat with the ethane product from the de-ethanizer reflux drums using a brazed aluminum heat exchanger (BAHE).
The new system is capable of producing 25 million metric scfd of liquid ethane along with keeping ethane outlet temperature as low as -105°F by maintaining methane gas inlet flow.