At ACCIONA, our com­mit­ment is to in­no­vate and ap­ply ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in the in­dus­trial wa­ter/waste­water treat­ment plants that we de­sign and build as well as the qual­ity of ex­e­cu­tion in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of ac­tiv­ity, com­ments

Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East - - KNOWLEDGE PARTNER - Jesús San­cho, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mid­dle East, ACCIONA

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.

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.

We are one of the few com­pa­nies with a con­sid­er­able back­ground in the ap­pli­ca­tion of re­verse os­mo­sis tech­nol­ogy in the de­sali­na­tion of sea­wa­ter and brack­ish wa­ter, as is demon­strated by more than 80 fa­cil­i­ties world­wide, in which the pro­duc­tion of potable de­salted wa­ter is circa three mil­lion m3/day.

We have ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in de­sali­na­tion, com­pris­ing the en­tire life cy­cle of the project – de­sign, con­struc­tion, start-up, plant oper­a­tion and main­te­nance – each of th­ese stages is strongly sup­ported by our R&D depart­ment. We are re­ally proud that many of the tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions in­cor­po­rated by the de­signs of the cur­rent de­sali­na­tion plants in the en­tire world have been de­vel­oped and op­ti­mised by our com­pany.

In the oil and gas sec­tor, wa­ter man­age­ment in­volves as­sets such as de­sali­na­tion plants that pro­vide pro­cessed wa­ter to the re­finer­ies and waste­water treat­ment plants to deal with the some­times quite chal­leng­ing resid­ual wa­ter that the re­finer­ies may gen­er­ate.

The treat­ment process

De­pend­ing on the amount of process wa­ter needed and the qual­ity of the prod­uct wa­ter that is re­quired to be achieved, ACCIONA can ac­com­mo­date the tech­ni­cal so­lu­tion that fits the pur­pose.

Re­verse os­mo­sis de­sali­na­tion plants pro­vide high-qual­ity dem­iner­alised wa­ter to the re­finer­ies not only through the use of mem­brane-based tech­nol­ogy, such as mi­cro­fil­tra­tion, or ul­tra­fil­tra­tion but also through non-mem­brane based elec­trodeion­i­sa­tion (a con­tin­u­ous process to ob­tain ul­tra-pure wa­ter with­out the need for chem­i­cals). The prod­uct wa­ter with th­ese tech­nolo­gies is able to be used in the com­plex in­dus­trial pro­cesses car­ried out by the re­finer­ies.

As far as resid­ual wa­ter pro­duced in re­finer­ies is con­cerned, the as­so­ci­ated treat­ment plants usu­ally start with a me­chan­i­cal sep­a­ra­tion fol­lowed by sec­ondary and ter­tiary treat­ment stages that may also in­clude mem­branes.

But, let us start from the very be­gin­ning: Oil is a liq­uid hy­dro­car­bon. In the trans­for­ma­tion of oil at the re­spec­tive re­finer­ies, wa­ter is mixed with hy­dro­car­bons and other sul­phurised, oxy­genated and ni­troge­nous sub­stances. The treat­ment of waste­water pro­duced by re­finer­ies con­sists of a set of pro­ce­dures, or pro­cesses to change their phys­i­cal, chem­i­cal, or bi­o­log­i­cal com­po­si­tion, mak­ing them sub­stances that are more in­nocu­ous, or that can be reused.

Given the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact that hy­dro­car­bons have on the ecosys­tems and tak­ing into ac­count that the pro­duc­tion of hy­dro­car­bons pro­duce three to five bar­rels of wa­ter for each bar­rel of oil, it is very im­por­tant to treat such amount of waste­water. In gen­eral, the process of waste­water treat­ment in the oil in­dus­try gen­er­ally con­sists of oil re­moval, dis­in­fec­tion, de­sali­na­tion and treat­ment by mem­branes through re­verse os­mo­sis, which is the most ef­fi­cient tech­nol­ogy to de­sali­nate wa­ter and the one that least af­fects the en­vi­ron­ment.

Com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent process trains and treat­ment meth­ods

Keep­ing in mind the com­plex and di­verse na­ture of re­fin­ery waste­water pol­lu­tants, a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal, chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal process trains and treat­ment meth­ods are usu­ally re­quired be­fore it is fi­nally dis­charged into the aquatic en­vi­ron­ment. The waste­water from the re­fin­ing pro­cesses is col­lected in waste­water pools so the

vis­cos­ity of the waste in th­ese pools can vary con­sid­er­ably de­pend­ing on the con­tent of wa­ter, oil and solids.

The re­main­ing sub­stances are elim­i­nated by a bi­o­log­i­cal treat­ment, or if they are biodegrad­able, they can be sub­jected to phys­i­cal-chem­i­cal elim­i­na­tion. Af­ter the pre­vi­ous treat­ment, they un­dergo a me­chan­i­cal treat­ment to elim­i­nate float­ing, or sed­i­ment sub­stances.

In fact, should waste­water from the petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try con­tain haz­ardous chem­i­cals, the petro­chem­i­cal com­pa­nies must go through chal­leng­ing and mul­ti­fac­eted pro­ce­dures in or­der to treat and clean this wa­ter and avoid the en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion.

The ben­e­fits in the waste­water re­fin­ery treat­ment are nu­mer­ous, es­pe­cially from the en­vi­ron­men­tal point of view: (i) The waste­water treat­ment of the pe­tro­leum in­dus­try can be ben­e­fi­cial for the same in­dus­try through a sec­ondary re­cov­ery. (ii) Through the treat­ment of waste­water, it can be rein­jected into the sub­soil for stor­age and sub­se­quent use. (iii) Wa­ter can be reused, thus sav­ing nat­u­ral wa­ter sources. (iv) It al­lows the re­cy­cling of wa­ter through the rein­jec­tion of wa­ter that can be used in the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal needs of the oil pro­duc­tion plant. (v) The waste­water treat­ment in the oil and gas in­dus­try al­lows that the wa­ter pro­duced in this type of in­dus­try can be reused in agri­cul­ture. (vi) When the wa­ter treat­ment meets the qual­ity stan­dards of the coun­try, it can even be dis­charged into nat­u­ral wa­ter sources, such as oceans, lakes, rivers, or al­low their evap­o­ra­tion.

For an ex­am­ple of de­sali­na­tion plant for in­dus­trial use, we have built in Sar­dinia, Italy, the largest de­sali­na­tion plant used by a re­fin­ery. The plant has a daily pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 12,000m3 and the treated wa­ter is used in the in­dus­trial sys­tems that the Ital­ian en­ergy com­pany needs at its re­fin­ery near Cagliari, one of the largest and most com­plex fa­cil­i­ties of its type in Europe.

Sus­tain­able chal­lenge

The de­mand for ef­fi­cient and cost-ef­fec­tive waste­water treat­ment tech­nol­ogy in the re­fin­ing and petro­chem­i­cal sec­tor is be­ing driven by not only ever-tight­en­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion, but also by the sec­tor’s own de­sire to fol­low a mean­ing­ful sus­tain­abil­ity agenda and to take its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties around prod­uct stew­ard­ship se­ri­ously.

How­ever, re­fin­ing and petro­chem­i­cal com­pa­nies are con­tin­u­ally con­fronted with the chal­lenge of strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween mak­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties prof­itable while en­sur­ing the in­dus­trial pro­cesses in­volved in the pro­duc­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of a chem­i­cal prod­uct, across its life­cy­cle, have min­i­mal im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. Treat­ment of waste­water from petro­chem­i­cal plants can be a chal­leng­ing and costly mat­ter, par­tic­u­larly when need­ing to com­ply with the govern­ment and in­ter­na­tional re­quire­ments of op­er­a­tional per­mits spe­cially when there is a dis­charge of treated waste­water into com­mu­nity plants, or nat­u­ral wa­ter bod­ies such as rivers, lakes and oceans.

It is a fact that the petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try has de­mand­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment chal­lenges to pro­tect wa­ter, soil and at­mos­phere from the re­fin­ery pol­lu­tion. Keep­ing this in mind along with the ACCIONA’S com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity, we come up with dif­fer­ent kinds of tech­nolo­gies and pro­cesses to the waste­water and the process wa­ter from the re­fin­ing in­dus­try, pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions with lower in­stal­la­tion costs that op­ti­mise waste­water treat­ment plant pro­cesses that with­out any doubt rep­re­sent an ideal tech­nol­ogy for the petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try.

Our tech­nol­ogy can deal with the wide range of chal­lenges that must be con­fronted in waste­water treat­ment such as pop­u­la­tions of very dif­fer­ent sizes, do­mes­tic ur­ban wa­ters, or high in­dus­trial loads, highly sea­sonal pop­u­la­tions, plants lo­cated in ar­eas with lim­ited avail­able space, or high vis­ual and/or en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, as well as dif­fer­ent dis­charge lev­els. The re­sult is the con­struc­tion of more than 300 waste­water plants world­wide, with a to­tal ca­pac­ity of more than 13.5 mil­lion m3/day, equiv­a­lent to a pop­u­la­tion of more than 55 mil­lion.

Most of the oil and gas com­pa­nies con­sider the im­por­tance of op­ti­mis­ing one of our great­est nat­u­ral re­sources – wa­ter. There­fore, wa­ter man­age­ment is an un­avoid­able ac­tiv­ity that re­finer­ies must in­cor­po­rate into their daily op­er­a­tional pro­to­cols. In this case, wa­ter com­pa­nies have re­searched and de­vel­oped var­i­ous tech­no­log­i­cal pro­cesses ca­pa­ble of op­ti­mis­ing wa­ter man­age­ment from 15% to 30%, which well ap­plied, would gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings in this sec­tor.

The cur­rent mo­ment is key for the petro­chem­i­cal sec­tor, and all of us that take part of wa­ter man­age­ment, from the pub­lic, or pri­vate sec­tor must rein­vent and pro­mote our roles, ori­ent­ing our­selves to­wards the sus­tain­abil­ity of the most rel­e­vant re­source. It is not only part of a global trend, but also part of a lo­cal per­spec­tive, fo­cused on the care of nat­u­ral re­sources and wa­ter sus­tain­abil­ity.

Jesús San­cho, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mid­dle East, ACCIONA.

Wa­ter de­sali­na­tion by re­verse os­mo­sis.

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