Burns & McDonnell was the engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contractor for the ConocoPhillips Borger, Texas, refinery's new amine absorption unit (AAU). We also provided engineering and construction of a new hydrogen compressor.
The Burns & McDonnell team beat an aggressive schedule by condensing a typical 20-month-long engineering, procurement and construction project into a 12-month project, completed on time, on budget and with no safety incidents, saving the refinery money and helping improve air quality for years to come.
- Front end engineering
In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated a rigorous national cap on sulfur in on-road diesel fuel at 15 parts-per-million (ppm), effective June 1, 2006. This ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) has replaced — and is 97 percent cleaner than — low sulfur diesel (LSD) fuel, which contains up to 500 ppm sulfur.
In response, the ConocoPhillips Borger Refinery revamped an existing hydrodesulfurization (HDS) reactor in January 2006. The revamped HDS reactor extracted excessive sulfur from fuel by mixing it with large quantities of hydrogen gas to chemically produce removable hydrogen sulfide byproduct and an EPA-compliant fuel with a sulfur content less than 15 ppm.
Concurrently, the Borger Refinery was also in the process of building a new coker unit, in which heavy viscous crude oil, or bitumen, would be cracked into its fractions for further refinement. With the new coker, the refinery would be operating under a new configuration with a greater throughput. This new configuration would require an increased supply of high-purity, high-pressure hydrogen.
Burns & McDonnell's new AAU purifies the needed hydrogen from the HDS reactor's hydrogen sulfide byproduct for reuse in that same reactor. The purified hydrogen is then be pressurized in the new hydrogen compressor and returned to the HDS reactor to extract additional sulfur.
Burns & McDonnell used a combination of experienced and capable engineers, cutting-edge technology and nearly seamless coordination to complete the projects on time, on budget, with no safety incidents, and well under the schedule typically required for similar industry work.
The project received an American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Grand Award in 2008 recognizing the success of the project.