Coker Backend Air Flow Resolved

At Clark Refinery in Port Arthur, TX compressed air is used to operate pneumatic tools/hoists that are necessary to allow employees to “cut” (hydraulically with water pressure) petroleum coke from the inside of a vessel. The unit is located a good way from the compressors that supply the air at approximately 90psig. Due to the distance and the lack of flow on the supply line in this area, water forms in the lines and makes the air unusable.

Enter the Decoker Backend Air Action Team. The team, comprised of a Backend Supervisor, Electrician, Pipefitter, Boilermaker, DCU Operator and Safety Representative identified the poorly designed air supply system. The teams’ goal: to remove the water and allow uninterrupted air supply to the tools/hoists.

The team located an unusual “knockout” (separation) drum in another part of the plant. Working together, they installed the drum upstream of the working area, therefore allowing for periodic removal of the water that became trapped in the drum instead of passing the water through to the supply lines.

The team solved a problem that was responsible for $73,600 lost margin in 1998. By removing the system’s “bad actors”, unit reliability and margins will be significantly improved.