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Career Episode 3

This career episode w a s my first international project and w a s located in V i e t n a m in Phu

My Industrial A r e a province Ba Ria - V u n g Tau in 120 km to the N o r t h from Ho Chi Min City.

The project p e r i o d w a s from A u g u s t 2004 to July 2 0 0 5 . I w o r k e d for a c o n s u l t i n g c o m p a n y from

R o m a n i a - P e t r o c o n s u l t , as D C S operator.

The scope of the contract w a s to ensure t e c h n i c a l assistance and t r a i n i n g for P e t r o v i e t n a m

personnel for the first m o d e r n fertiliser plant from Vietnam. Project w a s made by Technip,

ammonia plant was Haldor-Topsoe license and urea plant was Stamicarbon. After the

Performance Test the Phu My fertiliser plant w e n t u n d e r P e t r o v i e t n a m supervision.

Romanian company Petroconsult had the mission to ensure training and technical

assistance for V i e t n a m e s e p e r s o n n e l for o p e r a t i o n and m a i n t e n a n c e e n g i n e e r s . At my position as

D C S o p e r a t o r I w o r k e d t o g e t h e r with P e t r o v i e t n a m D C S o p e r a t o r s with the d u t i e s : to control the

a m m o n i a plant p a r a m e t e r s , to ensure the correct o p e r a t i o n m a n e u v e r s for start-up and shut-down

in order to p r e v e n t any d a m a g e s .

I started before the performance test and my tasks were to investigate the possible

c o n s t r u c t i o n errors m a d e by E P C - Technip and also to observe the p o s s i b l e operation errors

m a d e by T e c h n i p o p e r a t o r s . I analysed each start up and shut d o w n , c o m p a r i n g the p a r a m e t e r s

and t r e n d s w i t h original licensor d e s i g n e d specifications. In the field, I c h e c k e d all the a m m o n i a

plant units starting from battery limit until the final a m m o n i a tank product.

I i n v e s t i g a t e d each a b n o r m a l i t y in c o n s t r u c t i o n and n o r m a l operation of the p l a n t , m a k i n g

detailed r e p o r t s for my company's client P e t r o v i e t n a m . W o r k i n g for a c o n s u l t a n t c o m p a n y I

came up with solutions for each p r o b l e m that had a p p e a r e d , e x p l a i n i n g the c a u s e , o b s e r v i n g the

effects, and b u i l d i n g solutions for these p r o b l e m s .


M y c o m p a n y o r g a n i s a t i o n a l chart w a s a s f o l l o w s :

Personal Engineering Activity

D u r i n g the P h u M y Project i n V i e t n a m I m a d e the t r a i n i n g for V i e t n a m e s e D C S o p e r a t o r s

and I e n s u r e d the o p e r a t i o n a l b a c k - u p d u r i n g critical trip s i t u a t i o n s or s t a r t - u p and s h u t - d o w n .

D u e to my p r e v i o u s e x p e r i e n c e from R o m a n i a in K e l l o g g a m m o n i a plant I c o u l d e n s u r e a good

o p e r a t i o n from H a l d o r T o p s o e a m m o n i a plant in V i e t n a m . E v e n if the licensor w a s different the

plant s e c t i o n s and functionality w e r e the s a m e .

As daily r o u t i n e I c h e c k e d all plant t e c h n i c a l p a r a m e t e r s , p r e v i o u s shift r e p o r t s and lab

a n a l y s i s . I n n o r m a l p l a n t o p e r a t i o n I m a d e t r a i n i n g w i t h all V i e t n a m e s e D C S o p e r a t o r s t e a c h i n g

the d e t a i l s of p l a n t o p e r a t i o n . I s i m u l a t e d for different s i t u a t i o n s w h i c h c o u l d a p p e a r d u r i n g start

up or shut d o w n . I e x p l a i n e d t h e m in d e t a i l s the chemical and p h y s i c a l phenomena which

h a p p e n e d i n s i d e different plant s e c t i o n s , in r e a c t o r s , absorption c o l u m n s , r e f r i g e r a t i o n s unit in

o r d e r the V i e t n a m e s e o p e r a t o r s c o u l d u n d e r s t a n d e x a c t l y w h a t h a p p e n e d and t a k e a p p r o p r i a t e

m e a s u r e s for c o r r e c t i o n .

I did i n v e s t i g a t i o n d u r i n g the plant trip m a k i n g a n a l y s i s r e g a r d i n g trip c a u s e , effects, and 1

m a d e s u g g e s t i o n s in my r e p o r t s r e g a r d i n g the future m e a s u r e s that w e r e in n e e d to be t a k e n in

order to prevent similar situations.

O n e of the p r o b l e m s w h i c h I faced to in t h i s project w e r e often trips of s e m i l e a n solution

pumps (MDEA s o l u t i o n ) i n the CO2 r e m o v a l system. The CO2 r e m o v a l system was BASF
licensed with Methil Diethanol Amine s o l u t i o n used as a b s o r p t i o n agent for C O 2 from synthesis

gas. After m e c h a n i c a l a n d i n s t r u m e n t e n g i n e e r s h a d investigated t h e p r o b l e m t h e t r i p cause still

persisted. As chemical engineer I knew t h e M D E A composition and how t h e CO2 removal

system worked. I suspected from the beginning that the MDEA solution was not enough

regenerated and m o r e СO2 persisted i n t h e solution. F o r this r e a s o n t h e C O 2 gas was released

inside t h e semilean solution p u m p creating cavitation. I d e c i d e d to try different p a r a m e t e r s into

solution regeneration part. So, 1 modified t h e s t e a m flow inside reboilers i n c r e a s i n g t h e a m o u n t

of h e a t for a b e t t e r desorption of C O 2 and I changed the semilean solution flow inside the

desorber c o l u m n in o r d e r to o b t a i n a b e t t e r d i s t r i b u t i o n inside on t h e p a c k i n g rings. After getting

e a c h m o d i f i c a t i o n in p a r a m e t e r settings I c h e c k e d in C o n t r o l R o o m if t h e v i b r a t i o n s values of

semilean pumps became within normal range and outside in the field if the abnormal noise

observed previously was reduced. During one day shift w i t h i n 8 hours I successfully found t h e

right p r o c e s s p a r a m e t e r s in order to e n s u r e t h e best M D E A s o l u t i o n r e g e n e r a t i o n and p r e v e n t

pumps cavitations.

I h a d to pay a special a t t e n t i o n to S e c o n d a r y R e f o r m e r from a m m o n i a p l a n t . W h e n I started

this project I observed t h a t t h e thermosensitive paint from r e a c t o r surface h a d already c h a n g e d

the colour that indicated a hot spot inside the catalyst mass. Because the normal running

temperature inside this r e a c t o r was a p p r o x . 950 C. any a b n o r m a l i n c r e a s i n g t e m p e r a t u r e could

affect the shell reactor or welding belts. Any unplanned shut-down was excluded from plant

management so I made a system in o r d e r to prevent a future overheat of t h e r e a c t o r shell.

Because the Secondary R e a c t o r from Haldor Topsoe a m m o n i a p l a n t did n o t have any cooling

water j a c k e t I p r o p o s e d a c o o l i n g system with s t e a m rings similar with safety s t e a m rings used in

refinery's heat exchangers. I made a design drawing for a pipe system and the mechanical

d e p a r t m e n t built it. The system was designed to inject 5 bars s t e a m directly on t h e h o t spots

i n d i c a t e d b y t h e r m o s e n s i t i v e p a i n t i n o r d e r t o m a i n t a i n a c o n s t a n t t e m p e r a t u r e o n t h e shell side

u n t i l p l a n n e d shut d o w n for catalyst r e p l a c e m e n t a n d i n t e r n a l i n s p e c t i o n was m a d e .

In this project I used my t h e o r e t i c a l k n o w l e d g e from t h e university in o r d e r to t e a c h t h e

Vietnamese operators what the chemical-physical p h e n o m e n a which h a p p e n e d in the a m m o n i a

p l a n t were, and practical skills from my p r e v i o u s working p l a c e in A m o n i l SA in R o m a n i a to

o p e r a t e a c o m p l e x i n d u s t r i a l p l a n t in safe c o n d i t i o n s .

T o g e t h e r with catalyst specialist from Haldor Topsoe I h a d to solve the p r o b l e m with so

called „white spots" appearing on the primary reformer tubes. These t u b e s from p r i m a r y s e c t i o n

of a m m o n i a p l a n t were filled with N i c k e l catalyst a n d were very sensitive during the start up of

a m m o n i a plant. Any m i s t a k e in o p e r a t i o n a l m a n e u v e r s could poison or damage the catalyst. I


made a complex investigation where I used various data like: tube skin temperature (measured by

optical laser thermometer), pressure drop on primary reformer, gas composition upstream and

downstream, various trends for flow and temperatures during the last start ups of ammonia plant.

With all the data I made a detailed report where I demonstrated that the „white spots" from the

tube surface were the result of remaining refractory material deposited by mistake during

construction of primary reformer, and were caused by a poisoning or operation mistake. During

the next shut down the tube surface was cleaned and the problem was solved. If the catalyst was

suspected from poison it needed to be replaced with high costs.

In this project from Vietnam I developed my technical and communication skills. It was my

first international j o b , and I had the chance to be in touch with Asian nation that differed much

from Europeans regarding the way of thinking. I learnt a lot from their history and culture.

Because I completed my tasks successfully, my company - Petroconsult offered me a higher

position for their future project in Vietnam: Dung Quat Refinery Project which was scheduled to

start in Q4 2008.

All statements of fact in this report are true and correct.