Wa­ter man­age­ment in the down­stream busi­ness

Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East - - EDITOR’S COMMENT - Martin Me­nach­ery Edi­tor Re­fin­ing & Petro­chem­i­cals Mid­dle East martin.me­nach­[email protected]

An up­dated wa­ter man­age­ment plan could con­sid­er­ably in­crease the en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance and eco­nomic ef­fi­ciency of the down­stream com­plexes, mak­ing those more mar­ket com­pet­i­tive, due to the im­por­tance of wa­ter in the re­fin­ery and petro­chem­i­cal unit op­er­a­tions.

As men­tioned by the Knowl­edge Part­ner of this Spe­cial Re­port – ACCIONA – in pages 34-35, petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try is amongst the ma­jor con­sumers of pro­cessed, or ‘make-up’ wa­ter, es­pe­cially for cool­ing sys­tems, strip­ping, frac­tion­a­tion, and de­salt­ing. Ad­di­tion­ally, the treat­ment and re­fin­ing of fos­sil fu­els gen­er­ates large quan­ti­ties of waste­water that varies widely, de­pend­ing on the type of crude oil, com­po­si­tion of con­den­sate and treat­ment pro­cesses. As an ex­am­ple, the aver­age re­fin­ery re­quires 2.5 gal­lons of wa­ter for ev­ery gal­lon of crude oil pro­cessed.

Ac­cord­ing to the above-men­tioned col­umn, as en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions for waste­water dis­posal are get­ting stricter and fresh wa­ter re­sources are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly lim­ited, the in­dus­try re­quires more ef­fi­cient man­age­ment and re­use of this waste­water. The de­sign and oper­a­tion of modern re­fin­ery waste­water treat­ment is chal­leng­ing and is driven by the lat­est tech­nol­ogy.

Proper man­age­ment of the process wa­ter and waste­water is an im­por­tant el­e­ment in the suc­cess­ful oper­a­tion of a down­stream in­dus­try unit. The method of treat­ment of the waste­water de­pends on many fac­tors – the qual­ity of the crude oil, the process in­volved in treat­ing the oil, the end ap­pli­ca­tions of the by-prod­ucts, etc.

Where treat­ing the dis­charges gen­er­ated by the re­fin­ing and petro­chem­i­cal sec­tor is con­cerned, the waste­water can be re-used once it has been treated, which there­fore en­ables wa­ter re­sources to be pre­served.

Many en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions over the re­cent years re­lated to pe­tro­leum prod­uct qual­ity have re­sulted in re-con­fig­u­ra­tion of re­fin­ing op­er­a­tions and the ad­di­tion of en­ergy in­ten­sive units, which have added a sig­nif­i­cant need for wa­ter to be di­verted from var­i­ous sources. Pe­tro­leum re­finer­ies rely on clean wa­ter sources for a va­ri­ety of pro­cesses, from crude oil de­salt­ing to hy­dropro­cess­ing units and cool­ing tow­ers. The oil and gas in­dus­try con­sumes large amounts of wa­ter and also pro­duces large amounts of wa­ter due to the ex­trac­tion of oil and gas. The oil and gas com­pa­nies, to meet their spe­cific re­quire­ments, rely on wa­ter treat­ment spe­cial­ists in or­der to guar­an­tee pro­duc­tion con­ti­nu­ity, and to com­ply with in­creas­ingly strict en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

An­other im­por­tant point is that based on the feed­stock qual­ity, there is a need for use of cer­tain tech­nolo­gies that are more wa­ter in­ten­sive. De­spite th­ese ad­di­tional re­quire­ments, the down­stream in­dus­try in the Mid­dle East has made ma­jor achieve­ments in wa­ter use ef­fi­ciency, thanks to the in­no­va­tive wa­ter man­age­ment so­lu­tions avail­able for the sec­tor.

As elab­o­rated in the Mar­ket Fo­cus (pages 3233) sec­tion of this Spe­cial Re­port, the wa­ter and waste wa­ter in­dus­try is faced with the chal­lenge of adapt­ing its sys­tems to on­go­ing de­mo­graphic, struc­tural and cli­mate change. More and more con­sumers, both pri­vate and in­dus­trial, are con­cen­trated in densely pop­u­lated ur­ban ar­eas. The re­sult is greater de­mand for wa­ter and higher ef­flu­ent vol­umes. In re­sponse, the de­mands placed on wa­ter qual­ity are be­com­ing con­tin­u­ally more strin­gent.

As ex­plained in the re­port, sus­tain­able wa­ter and waste wa­ter man­age­ment de­pends on the ex­is­tence of a cir­cu­lar wa­ter man­age­ment sys­tem. Both struc­turally and in the IT do­main, the in­dus­trial and mu­nic­i­pal de­mand and (waste) wa­ter flows must be in­ter­linked. This cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit syn­er­gies in many ar­eas, which can en­hance the ef­fi­ciency and qual­ity of wa­ter con­di­tion­ing and ef­flu­ent treat­ment.

The re­fin­ing and petro­chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try has a sig­nif­i­cant role to play in pro­tect­ing the qual­ity of wa­ter in the ar­eas where its plants op­er­ate. Th­ese plants are faced with de­mand­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment chal­lenges and reg­u­la­tions.

Both wa­ter qual­ity and quan­tity are be­com­ing a global en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cern and wa­ter is a fi­nite re­source. From mul­ti­ple users, a huge ma­jor­ity of waste­water flows back into the en­vi­ron­ment un­treated, where it may cause en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age. By ef­fi­cient use of wa­ter re­cy­cling and re-use strate­gies, as well as treat­ment op­tions, this can be com­bat­ted.

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