Luis Fernando Sánchez
Honeywell México

Major Streamlining of Downstream Processes

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 14:36

Mexican engineers have continuously been looking for ways to efficiently turn the country’s heavy crude oil, which represents 54% of the country’s total oil production, into refined products. Relying on this fact, Honeywell Process Solutions, a pioneer in automation control, instrumentation, and services for the oil and gas sector, has disseminated a number of technologies for contaminant removal, fluid recovery, and fluid processing. All these have been specifically designed for the production of highquality gasoline and distillate fuels from heavy oil. “Most of the oil in the country is heavy and contains sulfur, so it is crucial to clean it in order to deliver high quality products,” explains Luis Fernando Sánchez, President of Honeywell México. “Our company has developed the technology to do that directly at the well without having to transport the oil, thus avoiding the risk of causing problems in the pipelines and valves. By solving the problem at the source, our solutions can improve productivity and reduce the total cost of the process” he adds.

Through its subsidiary, UOP, Honeywell Process Solutions licenses more than 70 processes and over 300 catalysts to support refineries and chemical plants around the world. According to Sánchez, UOP was acquired by the US multinational in 2005, and can be credited for having established the foundations of today’s modern refining industry during the last century. As part of Honeywell’s Performance Materials and Technologies strategic business group, UOP has become the leading international supplier and licensor of process technology, adsorbents, equipment, and consulting services to the petroleum refining, petrochemical, and gas processing industries. “More than 60% of the world’s gasoline is made using UOP technologies. This wealth of global expertise uniquely positions us to be a partner of the Mexican oil and gas industry,” claims Sánchez. To cement this status, in early 2014, Honeywell inaugurated a new plant in Ciudad Juarez with the aim of expanding its manufacturing base and shared services across its 12 facilities in the country. The new plant manufactures transmitters, controllers, water analytical measurement systems, and data logging systems for Mexico’s refineries and chemical plants. In addition, this plant is the only location where Honeywell’s new Smart Line, a series of pressure and temperature gauges, is being manufactured.

Currently, Honeywell conducts refining business with PEMEX and a number of companies within the private sector, focusing on the automation of fuel distribution terminals. However, the Energy Reform could create new business opportunities for the company due to the anticipated changes in the processes of producing and transporting fuels. “We have products for controlling the processes of the downstream industry, such as I-MAC (Integrated Main Automation Contractor). This allows the operator to view all processes within the refinery or the industrial complex, while integrating in real time other systems like security, safety, and energy efficiency, in the same platform. This enables clients to make better and faster decisions,” Sánchez points out. Honeywell’s I-MAC approach builds upon the foundations of the traditional MAC by integrating a broader automaton vision in order to ensure operational and business readiness from the start of operations. The result is an integrated strategy that delivers safety and reliability throughout the entire life of an asset by transferring and protecting knowledge, reducing overall project risks, accelerating production schedules, and improving operational efficiency. This technology helps ease the execution of the project by defining ownership and responsibilities, smoothing lifecycle operations, extending the life of the system, and integrating the supply chain. This may prove to be advantageous to E&P companies because they only have to deal with one fully integrated and interconnected system. “Even more importantly is the support capability we provide through constant maintenance of the process, so it is always up to date and functioning, regardless of location,” Sánchez maintains.

Given the current operational downtime at Mexico’s refineries, Honeywell is committed to helping its customers avoid counterproductive situations by implementing automation technologies and methodologies. A family of inhouse software for process design and simulation, known as UniSim, can be used to determine the workflow, equipment needs, and requirements for a particular process, as well as accessing the competencies of field and console operators to deliver optimum operational performance. This is of crucial importance since it allows users to optimize the equipment design prior to making large capital investments at the start of operations. The company goes a step further with its systems by creating steady-state and dynamic models for plant design, performance monitoring, troubleshooting and operational improvement.

The future looks bright for Honeywell, considering that over 50% of its product portfolio is related to the energy sector, and many of those products are developed here at its Mexico-based manufacturing facilities.