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Shale Oils: Designing for Improved Reliability in the Preheat Train

Presented By

Mark Lockhart -

Dominic Varraveto -

Burns McDonnell -


Refiners have been maximizing the processing of shale crudes in existing assets and currently building new crude units to process domestic tight oil. These crudes are causing significant fouling to occur in crude preheat exchangers, crude charge heaters as well as corrosion in the crude column and overhead system.

The cause of the fouling is from various contributing factors including the paraffinic nature of the crude, unfilterable solids and deposition in equipment when the crude is blended with high asphaltene crudes. Crude unit reliability can be increased in retrofits or in new units through approaches that include maintaining high fluid velocities in exchangers, proper desalter design and operation as well as in heat exchanger and charge heater design.

Burns & McDonnell has significant experience in crude unit design for processing tight oil. This paper highlights our latest experience and design know-how applied to the crude preheat train including heat exchangers, desalters, pre-flash drum and the crude charge heater.

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