Optimized Unloading of Crude Oil in Cold Conditions
A well-known phenomenon at oil terminals in cold regions is that crude oil transported in railway cars can be too stiff to unload. To help solve this problem, Neste Jacobs has developed an unloading device called Ecoarm. It is a ready to use system that can be used as is or configured by combining top-unloading, bottom-unloading or top-warming technologies to meet clients’ needs.
Traditionally, oil transported by train is unloaded through valves underneath the tank. The tool used for this is a base unloading arm with a built-in heating system.
“But if bottom unloading is not possible, which quite often is the case in the Baltic region, the car must be unloaded from the manhole on top of the tank,” says Staffan Lindberg, Account Manager at Neste Jacobs. “But it is very time consuming and inefficient in the winter to warm the tank from the outside with, for example, hot steam.”
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The good thing about Ecoarm is that the system heats the oil via the top manhole and from the inside out. Roughly speaking, the system consists of a pump nozzle equipped with a heating coil that has two extendable hot oil spray nozzles on both sides of it.
As the oil thins, beginning from the midsection of the tank, the nozzles begin to move sideways and upwards and gradually rise to the top of the tank. This way, all the oil will be efficiently warmed up and can be unloaded.
Fast and safe
The key benefit of Ecoarm is that unloading can be done with high volume flows in cold weather. The equipment is hydraulically operated and steered remotely, which makes it safe to operate.
“Ecoarm is the market´s most efficient and versatile unloading system for oil products that are difficult to handle,” says Lindberg.
The Ecoarm by Neste Jacobs unloads crude oil from railway cars no matter how cold and stiff the oil is.
Ecoarm is a complete system consisting of hot oil spray nozzles, heat exchangers, pumps, initial heating valve box, controls and hydraulics. © Polarteknik Oy Ab
Edited by Carin Hall
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.