The world’s largest crude distillation column equipment designed for crude oil processing for Dangote Refinery yesterday arrived in Lagos. The equipment is the largest in terms of distilling capacity which is 650,000 barrels per stream day.
It weighs 2250 metric tonnes; length, 112.5metres; width, 14.036m; and height, 13.752m; the above-mentioned weight does not include the weight of the internal trays, which is approximately 536 metric tonnes.
Head, Maritime and Ports Infrastructure of Dangote, Capt. Rajen Sachar, told journalists during the arrival of the facility in Lagos that the equipment is the biggest single-train facility used for refining crude oil. The refinery equipment, which was manufactured by Sinopec in China, is the primary unit processor of crude oil into fuels.
Sachar said the crude oil consists of various chemical components that have different molecular sizes, molecular weights and boiling temperatures. He added that the crude distillation column works on the principle of fractional distillation leading to separation of various components in the mixture based on their different boiling points.
According to him, “Crude oil enters the top of the column, where the inlet temperature is 165 degrees Centigrade gradually increasing to 357 degree Centigrade at the bottom of the column. During this passage the crude and its vapours pass through a complex web of internal trays to increase the contact time and surface area within the column with the hot vapours travelling upwards through bubble caps, which allow the vapour to pass through the tray with the cooler liquid flowing downward the column.
When the vapour reaches the height within the column where its boiling point is equal to the temperature of the column at that height it condenses to form a liquid. The liquid then collects on various trays in the column at differing heights from where it is extracted out of the column. It is therefore critical to control the heat load of the column to optimise the crude crack. These separated fractions are mainly middle distillates namely, naphtha, jet fuel, kerosene, gasoline and gas oil.”
The refinery, when completed, would produce Euro-V quality gasoline and diesel, as well as jet fuel and polypropylene. According to him, the crude column will enhance the economy of Nigeria and all neighbouring countries by making available refined petroleum products meeting world standards emission norms of Euro 5 and Euro 6.
He said the strategic location of Nigeria in West Africa continent would help in reducing the transportation costs of these fuels to other countries in Africa. He said that the equipment was capable of refining 650,000 barrel per day (bpd) while the refinery was designed to be Africa’s largest, with potential to transform Nigeria from an importer of fuel to a net exporter. He added that the technology is significant to Nigeria and Dangote refinery because this is the largest crude oil processor in the world.”
He stated that the crude oil processor took the Chinese manufacturers 14 months to build and eight weeks to bring it down to Nigeria. “We decided to ship it through vessel from China to avoid being damaged and to avoid traffic congestion by using roads from Apapa. Dangote refinery also invested heavily in dredging the sea from the refinery to Apapa for the easy passage of the vessel,” he added.
He said the President of the company, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, was passionate about technology transfer to Nigerians, adding that he has given standing instruction to train seven Nigerians to be a ship captain. Sachar said Dangote Oil Refinery Company is currently training about 150 young Nigerian engineers in refinery operations in preparation for the take-off of its Lagos refinery and petrochemical plant in India.
Engineers are also currently undergoing training in Mumbai, India while the training programme is a continuum as more engineers would be trained to work effectively in the fertiliser plant and refinery being built by the company. In his remarks, Pilot Grade 1 of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Lawal Fagbo Saheed, commended the vessel crew who brought the equipment from China, adding that it took seven hours to drive the vessel from Apapa to Dangote refinery due to the heavy equipment.