Dangote gets world’s largest crude distillation equipment

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The world’s largest crude distillation column equipment designed for crude oil processing for Dangote Refinery was delivered in Lagos on Sunday.

  1. The crude distillation column is the largest in distilling capacity, which is 650,000 barrels per stream day. This is currently the world’s largest single train refining column, the company said.

The equipment weighs 2,250 metric tonnes (MT), 112.5 metres in length, 14.036 metres in width and 13.752 metres in height, the company added. But the weight mentioned above does not include that of the internal trays, which is approximately 536 MT.

Head, Maritime and Ports Infrastructure at Dangote Group, Capt. Rajen Sachar, said the equipment is the biggest single train facility used for refining crude.

The refinery equipment, which was manufactured by Sinopec in China, according to Sachar, is the primary unit processor of crude oil into fuels.

The unit head explained that crude oil consists of various chemical components that have different molecular sizes, molecular weights and boiling temperatures.

He said the crude distillation column works on the principle of fractional distillation, leading to separation of various components in the mixture on the basis of their different boiling points.

“Crude oil enters the top of the column, where the inlet temperature is 165 degrees Celsius, gradually increasing to 357 degrees Celsius 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,” Sachar said.

He also explained that the refinery, when completed, will produce Euro-V quality gasoline and diesel as well as jet fuel and polypropylene.

The unit head said the crude column will enhance the economy of Nigeria and all neighbouring countries in Africa by making available refined petroleum products, meeting world standards emission norms of Euro 5 and Euro 6.

Sachar said the strategic location of Nigeria in West Africa will help in reducing the transportation costs of the fuels to other countries in the sub-region, thereby providing cost-effective, high-grade petroleum products to them.

“This refinery, with a capacity of 650 kbpsd, is higher than the total petrol demand of Nigeria, thus catapulting Nigeria’s position from net importer of petroleum products to a net exporter of petroleum products. The technology is significant to Nigeria and Dangote Refinery because this is the largest crude oil processor in the world,” he said.

According to him, the project is expected to generate over 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.

Sachar said it took Sinopec in China 14 months to build the equipment and another 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, if using roads from Apapa.

“Dangote Oil Refinery Company is currently training about 150 young Nigerian engineers in refinery operations in Mumbai, India, in preparation for the take-off of the refinery,” he said.

Pilot Grade 1 of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Lawal Fagbo Saheed, hailed the vessel crew who brought the equipment from China.

He said it took seven hours to drive the vessel from Apapa to Dangote Refinery due to the weight of the equipment.

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