Philippines Petrochemical Facility Enhances Turbomachinery

Published on: 

Rotating equipment specialist Sulzer aids in expanding the capacity of a Philippine petrochemical plant by 64%.

The integration of new retrofitting techniques and abrasive services from Sulzer has resulted in improvements in the reliability and production capacity of a petrochemical plant in the Philippines. The solutions, while minimizing extensive on-site alterations, have been successful in extending the pump's Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) from under six weeks to three years.

The Batangas Plant of the JG Summit Olefins Corporation, located 120 km south of Manila, is the only naphtha cracker facility in the country. Since its inauguration in 2014, it has experienced an increasing demand for its products, such as ethylene, a crucial raw material for the plastics industry. This demand surge led to plans for considerable capacity expansion by 2016.

However, before the capacity upgrades, the plant operators had to tackle a vital reliability issue that had surfaced during its initial operational years. The plant uses proprietary steam cracking technology, where hydrocarbon molecules are broken up in high temperature, coupled with steam, and subsequently cooled down by routing the gas through a heat exchanger and an oil quenching system. However, the pumps responsible for moving the quench oil were facing frequent drive end seal barrier pressure drops and failures.


Sulzer's team identified that the existing quench oil pumps were designed for a less severe operational environment and were made of S5 steel, a material susceptible to abrasive wear. Based on their global experience in process industry applications, the team suggested a series of targeted upgrades aimed at considerably enhancing the pumps' durability.

These upgrades included the replacement of critical pump components with parts made from high-chromium C6 steel, and the application of an abrasion-resistant SUME SA30 coating on the wetted areas using a high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) process. Several detailed changes to the pumps' geometry were also suggested to streamline flow, reduce turbulence, and allow larger coke particles to pass through.

In order to accommodate a 64% capacity increase and a 14% pressure increase in the oil quenching system, Sulzer engineered new, larger diameter impellers for the existing pumps and introduced new motors and couplings. The engineering team also collaborated with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to make changes to the turbine, which powered a third pump using process steam.