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The Oil Refinery Accident that Altered History

This recent article by the Chicago Tribune recently came to my attention.  The satirical views expressed in this article are funny but they underlie skepticism that the industry has, is, and always will do its best to prevent such accidents.  Process Safety Management (PSM), valve interlocks, safety instrumented systems (SIS), car sealed valves, procedures, inspection, etc are all ways the industry has increased its reliability over the last hundred years.
Yes, the infrastructure is aging.  Improvements are expensive and require a shutdown.  God forbid the cost of a gallon of gasoline exceed $4 (side note, ask everyone else in the world if they would like to see $5/gal in their area).  A fatal flaw in this logic is the plant who has the incident typically does not profit from it.  Rather, the neighboring refinery’s margins jump but the plant where the incident occurred is down and incapable of capitalizing on the windfall profit.  In fact, it is a double wammy for that plant.  Who would bring that on themselves?
Last point, it is government mandated unique fuel standards that create islands of market vulnerability like in Chicago and California. It is ironic that Bubkis turns into a politician in this story but the politician of today brought this problem onto themselves.
As a funny side note, anyone care to guess what company or site is being satirized here?  Place your comments below……
The Oil Refinery Accident That Altered History

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Posted by: Evan Hyde

Evan Hyde is the director of field services for He previously was president of C2 Nano Technology where they researched surface treatments to combat fouling & corrosion issues in cokers & other petrochemical process units. He was a Senior Engineering Advisor for Becht Engineering Co., Inc. and has consulted on processing improvement and reliability initiatives for coking clients around the world. Prior to joining Becht, Evan worked for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, as a process engineer, with assignments in research, and troubleshooting for heavy oil upgrading equipment. He holds a B.S. of Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

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