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Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore bags two awards

It wins the Best Practices Award for improving ethylene product recovery and the Outstanding Energy Manager award.

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Outstanding Energy Manager award recipient, Francis Tan, is the energy manager of the structured energy management team.

PETROCHEMICAL Corporation of Singapore (Private) Limited (PCS) has proudly bagged two awards - in the Best Practices category and the Outstanding Energy Manager award, which went to Francis Tan Kok Vui, manager, process & operation technology (utilities & logistics), technology and optimisation.

PCS won the Best Practices award for its innovative approach to improve valuable ethylene product recovery. The company adopted a phased approach using the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle, to recover excess ethylene boil-off gas (C2' BOG) from low temperature (LT) storage tanks. The increase in capacity of PCS' ethylene plants and enhanced integration with neighbouring companies caused an increase in the frequency of C2' imbalances. This resulted in higher C2' rundowns to the LT tanks and an increase in C2' BOG generation.

The existing C2' BOG compressor had a capacity limit to recover the additional C2' BOG generation. To overcome this, PCS designed an in-house C2' BOG roots blower system which was commissioned to recover excess C2' BOG that would otherwise be flared. This allows for safe disposal of excessive hydrocarbons.

The reduction of C2' BOG flaring resulted in a reduction in energy consumption at system level by 41 per cent and reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 2.2 kilo-tonnes per year. Additional recovery of C2' BOG yielded higher ethylene gross production without corresponding feed increase.

Outstanding Energy Manager award recipient Mr Tan is the energy manager who leads the structured energy management team consisting of members across functions from operations, maintenance, engineering and technology & optimisation.

Four strategies

PCS Plant I and II started operating in 1984 and 1997, respectively. Mr Tan and his team leveraged the company's four strategies to improve energy performance for both plants as part of process safety excellence to maintain its position in the first quartile of the worldwide Solomon benchmarking study among similar plants.

The four strategies are: best practice technology chemical processes; operations and maintenance of existing facilities; retrofitting plant facilities; and process optimisation and control.

Some of the successful energy saving and CO2 emission reduction projects managed by Mr Tan include: increased capacity for ethylene boiled-off gas (BOG) root blower for excess BOG recovery; revamped PCS-I ethylene plant main compressors; and implementation of the backflushing of seawater heat exchangers to recover heat transfer coefficient due to fouling.

Mr Tan also managed the initiatives to create awareness in energy management among all engineers and frontline supervisory staff by encouraging engineers and frontline supervisory staff to continually share and learn about energy management through participation in local energy conferences and sharing seminars.

He also shared best practices on industrial energy management such as the implementation of energy real time optimiser - Open Loop, at the technical seminar on energy use in process industries organised by The Institution of Engineers Singapore.

"I am truly humbled to receive this award and grateful to be able to journey with my colleagues in this energy efficiency journey. This award continues to recognise the teamwork in PCS's energy conservation efforts in delivering sustainable energy efficiency performance over the years," says Mr Tan.

He says the company has the honour of being a double EENP award recipient this year. It focused on energy performance improvement to maintain its position in the first quartile in the worldwide benchmarking study among similar plants. There was visible demonstration by management to provide resources on identification of areas and opportunities in energy efficiency improvement projects. PCS also created awareness of energy savings in the organisation to continue to adopt a teamwork approach to develop and implement energy efficiency projects safely.

Energy efficiency is sometimes known as another pillar of 'energy source', adds Mr Tan. "There is a finite supply of fossil fuel. By using less input to produce the same amount of output, it is viewed as an 'energy source' because it preserves the resource base. One can gain competitive advantage by being more resource efficient in energy, resulting in cost savings for higher profits.

"When resources are more efficiently used, companies could build more resilience, hence, there could be some positive effect on energy security especially in times of uncertainty. In the absence of immediate alternatives, improving energy efficiency by using less energy to produce the same amount of output is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing GHG emission in the midst of global climate change."

Energy intensive industry

Mr Tan points out that the petrochemical industry is an energy intensive industry. The energy is used in the manufacturing processes to deliver the wide spectrum of products that improve the quality of human lives.

"At this stage there is no alternative low energy process. Hence, an energy efficient plant would improve our competitiveness and market share of our products. One of the tangible benefits of being energy efficient is monetary savings through reduction in our energy costs. Another intrinsic value is where all employees feel a sense of achievement and hence will continue to be proactive in displaying traits of being more energy conscious in our daily activities both in the office and at home," he adds.

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