Humber Refinery, United Kingdom
The Humber refinery uses thermal cracking, coking and calcining processes to produce valuable petroleum coke and other lighter products. It has a $1bn (£645.2m) plan in place to further enhance efficiency, safety and environmental protection in the years up to 2010.
The refinery was brought onstream in 1969 on a 480-acre site in the Humber Estuary and refines crude oil primarily from the North Sea (its initial capacity was three million tonnes a year but this has more than trebled due to upgrading to over 11.5 million tonnes a year. The refinery receives the crude from Tetney Oil Terminal.
INVESTMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
In January 2000 Conoco Limited unveiled a $996m (£700m) investment programme for its Humber refinery to produce a new generation of clean fuels required for the next century.
The refinery units in Humberside, South Killingholme, UK, are now fully capable of producing ultra-low sulphur gasoline and diesel, compliant with the European Union (EU) fuel specifications designed to benefit air quality introduced in 2005.
The refinery operation includes an alkylation plant, petroleum coke processing facility including three calcination rotary tunnels. Petroleum coke is an important by-product from crude oil refining which has a great deal of use in the steel and aluminium smelting industries.
The refinery produces over 700,000t of petroleum coke each year and is one of the world's largest producers. Over 70% of the refined oil products are for the UK, the rest is for mainland Europe and the US. Refined products are stored and exported from Immingham dock.
ULTRA-LOW SULPHUR PETROL AND DIESEL
The project spans approximately ten years and includes an investment in the region of £90m ($128m) on new units to produce clean fuels and £250m ($355m) on an advanced combined heat and power plant to meet the refinery's future energy needs. The clean fuels investment will produce ultra-low sulphur petrol and diesel.
The incentive behind the investment is to reinforce Humber's position as one of Europe's premier refineries and enhance its ability to supply cleaner road fuels to the UK market, which is in line with the Government's commitment to improve air quality. Furthermore the investment will reduce the need to import the ultra-low sulphur diesel which is more costly.
The Humber refinery already meets the EU's year 2000 gasoline and diesel specifications, however the investment will allow the company to satisfy the growing international demand for even cleaner fuels and to meet the year 2005 specification. It also will enable the refinery to satisfy new fuel specifications in the United States, which is a significant market for Humber gasoline.
Over the past 40 years the company has invested nearly £5bn ($7.1bn) in various exploration, production, refining and marketing activities in the UK. The company plans to spend over £1.5bn ($2.1bn) in the UK on new projects during the first decade of the century.
HUMBER PROJECT TIMESCALE
Ultra-low sulphur fuels have a sulphur content of 50 parts per million (ppm), which is one tenth of the current 500ppm limit. New EU legislation will progressively reduce the maximum sulphur content of gasoline from 150ppm in January 2000 to 50ppm in 2005. The sulphur limit for diesel will reduce from 350ppm in 2000, to 50ppm in 2005.
The refinery processes over 234,000 barrels of crude oil per day and produces over 14 million litres of low sulphur gasoline every day.
GASOLINE PLANT PRODUCTION AND COST
Construction of the $55m gasoline plant commenced in 1999 and was on stream in January 2000. Design and engineering of the $90m diesel plant also began in 1999 and construction commenced in March 2000, and was online in summer 2001.
The projects created nearly 275 jobs during the two-year construction phase, many of which were filled by local contractors.
Fluor Daniel handled off-site engineering and procurement work on both projects, and Parsons International was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the diesel hydrodesulfurisation unit.
In April 2001, a large explosion occurred on the saturate gas plant area of the refinery site. ConocoPhillips procedures were investigated and the company was subsequently fined £895,000 and told to pay full costs of £218,854 at Grimsby Crown Court in an action brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to effectively monitor the degradation of the refinery pipework.
During the fire 170,000t of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) were released and caught fire. The resulting fire caused other pipework to fail and prompted a second explosion. Kevin Allers of the HSE said: "The blaze took more than two hours to put out and although nobody was seriously injured, there was considerable damage to other processing plants and properties off the site."
An investigation by the HSE found the leak was caused by the failure of an elbow pipe due to erosion and corrosion and a gas-fired heater in an adjacent processing unit was the most likely cause of ignition of the gas.
IMMINGHAM COMBINED HEAT AND POWER PLANT (CHP)
Immingham CHP, which commenced commercial operation late 2004 – and is one of the largest, cleanest and most efficient of its type in Europe – provides steam heat and electrical power to ConocoPhillips Humber refinery and steam heat to the Total Lindsey oil refinery, adjacent to it in North Lincolnshire.
In October 2006 ConocoPhillips announced the approval of an investment of approximately $400m (£210m) to expand capacity at its Immingham Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in the UK by 450MW, from 730MW to 1,180MW. This expansion will make Immingham CHP one of the world's largest and most efficient power stations and an additional source of low carbon heat and power for the UK.
Commercial operation of the expansion is currently expected to start in the summer of 2009. By combining the production of heat and power, Immingham CHP uses 20% less fuel and produces 25% less carbon than the alternative of producing heat and power separately.
If current studies demonstrate economic feasibility, the enlarged Immingham CHP could be modified to utilise gasification technology to operate as a 'clean coal' facility with carbon dioxide stored or used for enhanced oil recovery.