Hidalgo, in central Mexico. Under the long-term agreement,
Air Liquide will invest € 50 million to acquire, upgrade,
and operate Pemex’s existing hydrogen production unit—a
steam methane reformer (SMR)—to supply 90,000 normal
cu m/hr of hydrogen to the Tula refinery for 20 years beginning in first-quarter 2018.
The Tula refinery will use hydrogen from the upgraded
SMR to help produce cleaner fuels as part a series of initiatives under PTI’s broader Fuel Quality Project (formerly
Clean Fuels Project) at its six Mexican refineries, which includes similar ultralow-sulfur fuel projects at the Cadereyta and Madero manufacturing sites (OGJ Online, Mar. 21,
Meridian Energy Group Inc., Belfield, ND, expanded the
scope of engineering services to be delivered by Vepica USA
Inc., Houston, a subsidiary of Caracas-based Vepica CA, under a previously awarded contract for works on Meridian’s
two-phased grassroots 55,000-b/sd high-conversion Davis
refinery to be built in Billings County, ND, in the
heart of southwestern North Dakota’s Bakken shale
region (OGJ Online, May 10, 2017).
Alongside continuing work as principal engineering firm for design initiation on the refinery’s
first 27,500-b/sd phase, or Davis Light, Vepica also
will provide continued engineering support to the
project’s permitting effort as well as procurement
and fabrication packages for long-lead equipment
items, including the atmospheric crude tower.
A key partner in layout and planning works
to enable site preparations for the refinery’s construction
to proceed while the North Dakota Department of Health
(NDDH) continues processing the project’s air-quality permit, Vepica most recently helped Meridian prepare and file
an amendment to its permit-to-construct (PTC) application
for the refinery’s Davis Light phase. Filed with NDDH on
Apr. 5, the PTC application amendment included engineering and configuration adjustments to further improve emissions and product output from project’s second 27,500-b/sd
phase, or Davis Full.
In addition to confirming Meridian’s selection of hydrocracking in lieu of fluid catalytic cracking for Davis Full,
the PTC amendment explains the operator’s decision to add
vacuum distillation and hydrocracking units during the second phase will equip the refinery with greater product flexibility, including an ability to adjust the production ratio of
ultralow-sulfur diesel to naphtha in order to meet changing
market demands, ensure product quality, and further reduce
emission levels from the site.
On Nov. 9, Meridian said it expected NDDH to publish a
draft PTC for public review of the project soon. Pending permit approvals, Meridian anticipates Davis Light to be commercially operating in early 2018, with refinery’s Davis Full
second-phase development to expand processing capacity to
55,000-b/sd sometime in 2019 (OGJ Online, Feb. 21,2017).
capture vapors from marine vessels that come to the dock.
On Aug. 8, Andeavor said it also had received a permit
from Washington’s Northwest Clean Air Agency for CPUP’s
mixed-xylenes project, which allows the company to move
forward in obtaining remaining permits for the project.
In February, Chevron Corp. let a contract to WorleyParsons Ltd. to provide engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services for conversion of the
existing 4,500-b/d hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation unit at
its 53,000-b/d refinery in Salt Lake City, Utah, into the first-ever alkylation unit in the US based on ionic liquids alkylation technology (OGJ Online, Feb. 8, 2017; Oct. 4, 2016). As
part of the $67-million EPCM contract, WorleyParsons will
execute a retrofit of the unit, replacing the HF process with
ISOALKY, a proprietary alkylation technology developed by
Chevron USA Inc. and licensed by Honeywell International
Inc.’s UOP LLC, that uses ionic liquids instead of HF or sulfuric acids as a liquid alkylation catalyst for production of
high-octane fuels, the service provider said.
In addition to increasing C3-C5 olefin feed flexibility and lower handling risks vs. HF and sulfuric acid, ISOALKY technology will enable catalyst
regeneration to occur within the unit itself, lowering catalyst consumption by 400 times vs. sulfuric
acid. The replacement technology also will reduce
environmental impacts and safety risks associated
with the HF alkylation process. The Salt Lake City
refinery’s retrofitted ISOALK Y unit is scheduled for
startup sometime in 2020.
South of the US border, Pemex Transformacion Industrial
(PTI), the processing arm of Mexico’s state-owned Petroleos
Mexicanos SA, began the process of selecting undisclosed
bidders to supply hydrogen to its 122,000-b/d Hector R.
Lara Sosa refining complex in Cadereyta, Nueva Leon, in
northeastern Mexico, and the 87,400-b/d Francisco I. Madero refinery in Madero, Tamaulipas (OGJ Online, Sept. 13,
2017). While PTI did not disclose a timeframe for when it
will reach a final decision on the partnerships, the company
said it expects the pending hydrogen supply contracts will
result in direct profits of nearly $134 million for Pemex.
Part of the framework of Pemex’s 2017-21 business plan,
the proposed alliances for hydrogen supply to its struggling
refineries are intended to decrease operating costs as well
as ensure reliable supplies of hydrogen required for various
processing activities to help reduce the frequency of unscheduled shutdowns. The pending contracts also will enable PTI to strengthen overall performance of the two refineries by helping to increase their production of gasoline and
These latest proposed partnerships for the Cadereyta and
Madero refineries follow Pemex’s first joint-venture agreement for auxiliary services to its national refining system
made with Air Liquide México SA de RL de CV for hydrogen
supply to the Miguel Hidalgo refinery in Tula de Allende,