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Refining Profile: Elmo Nasato

“We need to give young engineers an opportunity to stay in a role for a longer time to become the next generation of Subject Matter Experts.”

Elmo Nasato_photo1

Elmo Nasato specializes in fixing people’s sulfur problems and has made the art of troubleshooting his business. After 35 years in the sulfur industry, two of his favorite things to do are visit with the operations staff at various facilities and to learn “all things sulfur” in training sessions and conferences around the world.

“I was fortunate to land my first job at a sour gas plant in southern Alberta where I learned from veterans who were very willing to take me under their wing and teach me the nuances of operating a facility,” he said, “walking through the metal forest.”

Elmo earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1987. After graduating, he began his career with Mobil Oil in southern Alberta in 1987. From there he and his wife, Linda, moved to Tyler, Texas to work for a company specializing in sulfur recovery, staying for nearly a decade in the Lonestar State.

A first generation Canadian and native of Ontario, Elmo currently resides in Oakville, Ontario with his wife, who is also a chemical engineer. He is a proud father of three wonderful children, including two daughters who are chemical engineers, and a son who is currently studying business and financial math.

In 2001 Elmo founded Nasato Consulting Ltd. and currently serves as its president. His company assists clients with the design, retrofit, start-up and optimization of sulfur recovery units, sulfur handling units, amine units, sour water stripper units and tail gas clean-up units all across the globe. He also provides on-site turnaround assistance, operator training and seminar training.

Elmo Nasato fishing

Elmo has gained valuable insights after working in the industry for as long as he has, and one of the biggest challenges he sees facing the industry is the insufficient time that young engineers spend in a position. 

“It’s just long enough to get comfortable and then they move on elsewhere,” he says.  

Over the years, the accumulation of years of experience that engineers obtain in their roles has been greatly reduced, leaving many of these plant operators without the breadth of experience and training they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. 

“We need to give young engineers an opportunity to stay in a role for a longer time to become the next generation of Subject Matter Experts,” Elmo says. 

In recent years, there has been a significant change in crude slate and sulfur content for refineries– another looming challenge the industry faces as a whole.  

“With tighter global air quality regulations and stricter enforcement, the sulfur recovery units have transitioned from just a ‘utility’ unit to arguably the most important unit in a gas plant and refinery,” he observes. “To address this twofold issue of environmental enforcement and frequent change in sulfur load, the industry will need to invest in capital upgrades, but more importantly in upskilling support staff.”

While Elmo’s years of experience are a testament to his dedication to the sulfur industry, his first love is ice hockey. He grew up playing competitive ice hockey and coached at the competitive level for many years. 

“In a perfect world, I would prefer a career in coaching hockey rather than engineering,” he says somewhat jokingly.  

Elmo Nasato Hockey Coach

Elmo’s ability to teach naturally extends from the refinery to the ice hockey rink, and now into the classrooms at RefComm Galveston, where he will be leading a brand new sulfur training course. His Sulfur Recovery Fundamentals, Operations and Reliability course is geared toward sulfur personnel with all levels of experience and will cover an introduction to the sulfur recovery unit process and chemistry and an overview of equipment and operation, including real life operating problems. Other pertinent topics include oxygen enrichment, tail gas clean up technologies, sulfur degassing and incineration. Registration is still open for his class. Learn more here

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