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Aramco announces successful naphtha splitter placement

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Saudi Aramco has announced that the Ras Tanura Refinery Clean Fuels project has placed its heaviest and largest piece of equipment – a naphtha splitter column weighing 544 t.

It took approximately three hours to complete the lift of the 65 m high column after six weeks of site preparation and crane positioning.

For the lift, a 1600 t main crane was utilised together with a tailing crane with a total nominal capacity of 600 t. The 8 m dia. column required extensive coordination during transportation. This included disconnecting several overhead power cables to allow for safe passage and modifying the Jubail-Dhahran highway to avoid bridges.

The total transport from Jubail to the project site at the refinery was alternated between day and night to minimise community disruptions. It took three weeks from source to site, with more than 10 stops along the way.

The column is the main feeder to what will be the world’s largest continuous catalytic reforming (CCR) and isomerisation units, with a total operating capacity of 90 000 and 65 000 bpd, respectively. The main function of the naphtha splitter column is to split the hydrotreated naphtha into light and heavy naphtha, which is a key function to the naphtha hydrotreating unit, as it controls the benzene precursors, which are then sent to the isomerisation unit.

The objective is to prepare the feeds to downstream units to meet the acceptable level of the impurities in the feed to the new CCR and isomerisation units.

The splitter column has been awarded to a local manufacturing company in Jubail as part of the iktva program, which is targeting 70% localisation by 2021. The complete manufacturing of the column took more than a year, achieving more than 2500 safe working hours.

The project will provide facilities to support Saudi Aramco’s corporate objective of effectively supplying diesel and gasoline products that comply with the future Saudi Aramco gasoline and diesel quality specifications, as per Euro-V fuels quality standards. The new naphtha complex plants that will be installed as part of the project at the refinery, will comprise a 138 000 bpd naphtha hydrotreater, the 90 000 bpd CCR unit, and 65 000 bpd isomerisation unit.

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