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CASE STUDY: LOTTE

CASE STUDY: LOTTE

 

Jake Garber and Chad Hollier, N2 Solutions, USA, highlight the logistical challenges that were overcome to secure success in the commissioning and start-up of a world-scale Ethane Cracker.

Abstract

LACC, LLC a joint venture between Lotte Chemical USA and Westlake Corporation, required nitrogen for commissioning and start-up of a new chemical plant in Louisiana, U.S. To help bring the plant online, N2 Solutions offered pump truck and liquid nitrogen support to supply supplemental nitrogen above the feed rate of pipeline nitrogen. N2 Solutions pumped 75 million standard cubic feet of gas (MMSCF) over three weeks, handling the entire project in-house without third-party support. The result was an example of effective management of the logistics of liquid nitrogen supply. With spot agreements in place with multiple nitrogen suppliers, N2 Solutions was able to work flexibly and remain adaptable, with an onsite logistics coordinator overseeing the project through to its successful completion.

Background

LACC, LLC was preparing to bring a plant online, which represented the commissioning and start-up of the newest Ethane Cracker facility in the Westlake, LA area, among the largest in the world. The existing portion of the plant had a nitrogen line that supplied the plant, which was used primarily to control instrumentation. During commissioning discussions with N2 Solutions, it became apparent that the gas required to operate the new plant would exceed the existing supply capacity.

The N2 Solutions' fix was to import liquid nitrogen in trucks and convert it back to its gaseous form on site, which represented a significant logistical challenge and the largest project completed by N2 Solutions to date. Over a three-week period, approximately 75 MMSCF of gas was pumped, which equates to 150 loads or 805,000 gallons.

Scope of Work and Challenges Faced

Commissioning Phase: handling up to 25 loads of nitrogen per day

In line with expectations, pump rates fluctuated during the plant’s start-up period. As the pump rate increased, larger demands were placed for liquid nitrogen to be delivered to site, putting pressure on managing last minute logistics. Overall, N2 Solutions was required to source and coordinate the delivery of 150 loads of liquid nitrogen over the space of three weeks. Because of the fluctuations in demand, there were multiple days when up to 25 loads of nitrogen a day needed to be sourced and delivered, on extremely short notice.

At the peak of the project, N2 Solutions was called upon to manage 57 loads over the space of four consecutive days, which equated to 40% of the entire project. To overcome this challenge, 18 N2 Solutions personnel were onsite, managing multiple operations simultaneously at numerous pumping units across the plant.

CASE STUDY LOTTE (1)Solutions Provided

The value of independence

One of the suppliers that N2 Solutions utilized on this project was also supplying gas to six plants simultaneously, meaning they were contractually obliged to maintain consistent adequate gas supply for those plants. If one of those plants requested an oversupply of gas one day, it had the potential to hinder the liquid operations of that supplier. The dynamic of supply and demand is notoriously changeable and if the supplier cannot match the daily demand due to obligations with other businesses, alternative supplies need to be sourced.

N2 Solutions is an independent nitrogen pumping company, meaning it is independent of ties to one single supplier of gas, which provides the flexibility and the capacity to source from multiple suppliers across the U.S. In one instance, a supplier was not able to supply enough liquid nitrogen on a given day to fulfill the requested 19 loads. N2 Solutions was effectively able to manage a request of this magnitude by obtaining liquid from multiple suppliers, maintaining adequate daily loads for even the largest of projects.

Actions Taken

Leading with effective communication

With such a heavy reliance on logistics, the major success of this project was a result of effective communication, both day and night. Throughout the project, team members were stationed in the office, communicating at all times with personnel working pumping units in disparate areas of the plant, helping smoothly schedule incoming loads with the supplier and offloads at various plant locations. Because N2 Solutions works with multiple industrial gas suppliers, there is a need for more extensive and concise communication to accurately schedule and manage multiple pickups. Furthermore, with a time scale of approximately one hour to offload a single load of liquid nitrogen per truck, N2 Solutions personnel were stationed onsite throughout the process to schedule the deliveries and streamline truck movement to avoid costly queuing bottlenecks at the facility. In addition to costs incurred due to idling trucks, all drivers were restricted by federal regulations that stipulated they could only drive for 11 hours during a 14-hour workday - effectively taking that transport truck out of operation. Aside from an open line of communication between the vendors and contractors, there was also need to effectively communicate with the client, who was in the process of forging uncharted territory in the necessary and ever-changing steps needed to bring its new units online.

Of course, there is also the need to consistently and continually communicate the importance of safety, especially with a project of this size and timeframe, with so many variables. To ensure safe operations, N2 Solutions participated in a pre-job planning meeting in which customer expectations of employee competences and equipment assurances were noted. N2 Solutions is committed to providing customers with well trained and qualified individuals. A verification process was initiated and assigned employees were pre-checked to ensure current training and operator qualifications that are required by the customer. Equipment designated for the project underwent a thorough inspection process and pre-job operational and functionality testing. In addition, N2 Solutions' operations team ensured that operating conditions present on the job site were within the expected limits of the equipment. A pre-job walk through was conducted and equipment was spotted and rigged so as to not create additional hazards in regards to accessibility. N2 Solutions technicians and operators conducted an on-site Job Safety Analysis in which hazard mitigation reduced risk exposure. Upon completion of the project, N2 Solutions' QHSE Manager reviewed safety-related documentation.

The onsite logistics coordinator is key in leading communication efforts during a project of this size. Key responsibilities in this role are decisions on where to send the liquid when it arrives, and if enough storage space is available before the trucks arrive. The logistics coordinator is also required to be in constant contact with the office, determining how many loads of nitrogen are required that day, how they will be sourced, and when.

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Results

Learning and adapting

The successful completion of this large and complex project was the culmination of experience earned during work on many smaller projects. Lessons learned in this project are being carried across and implemented in current ones, and so on, ensuring that logistical methodologies are continuously improved. In projects such as these, a flexible and reactive plan is essential, one that will adapt to every bump in the road that you may hit along the way. Overall, the LACC, LLC project proved to be a success for the client, N2 Solutions as an independent nitrogen pumping company, and the nitrogen suppliers as well. Mark Peters, Site Director for Lotte Chemical USA commented, “N2 Solutions provided us with the safety, flexibility and dependability necessary for our initial plant startups and as well as for periodic plant turnarounds. We have a strong relationship with N2 Solutions, and look forward to their continued support.”

Why Choose N2 Solutions?

As part of our expansion, the capabilities of N2 Solutions and PFS Nitrogen Services have expanded significantly. We are now equipped to serve our clients from four strategically located facilities: Highlands, TX, Broussard, LA, Petal, MS, and Mercer, PA. This expansion allows us to better meet your needs and provide even more comprehensive services.

This expansion allows us to better meet your needs and provide even more comprehensive services and inventory. We specialize in liquid pipeline displacements and excel in simplifying this scope of work for our partners.

Our comprehensive services include:

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About N2 Solutions

N2 -(300 x 150) (3)N2 Solutions strengthens their position as a nitrogen services leader with the acquisition of PFS Nitrogen Services, expanding its locations and product offerings. With pump trucks, nitrogen transports, pipeline chemical solutions, pig tracking, and pipe freeze technology, N2 delivers cost-effective solutions to energy, industrial, chemical, and pipeline clients. Together, N2 Solutions and PFS set a new standard of excellence in nitrogen solutions for their customers.

 

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