It is no news that Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is finally making a long-awaited play in the petroleum sector of oil-rich Nigeria by building the world’s largest single-train refinery in Lagos.
And to make it all come together, Dangote acquired the world’s largest single crude distillation column (also known as an atmospheric tower) for his refinery site and this equipment has been en route from China for the past four months.
Well, there’s some good news — the mammoth crude distillation column has finally arrived at the site of the refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, on the outskirts of Lagos.
The equipment was built by the Chinese firm, Sinopec, and it left Ningbo, China, on July 29, and spent about four months following the Maritime Silk Road; a maritime route that connects China to other parts of the world.
The equipment has been described as the biggest single-train facility used for refining crude and it is the primary unit processor of crude oil into fuels.
Capt. Rajen Sachar, Head, Maritime and Ports Infrastructure at Dangote Group, 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 the separation of various components in the mixture based on 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 vapors pass through a complex web of internal trays to increase the contact time and surface area within the column, with the hot vapors traveling upwards through bubble caps which allow the vapor to pass through the tray with the cooler liquid flowing down the column.”
“When the vapor 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 controlling 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.
According to Sinopec, the atmospheric tower has a diameter of 12 meters, a length of 112.56 meters and a unit weight of 2252 tons. And its arrival can be considered a landmark for the ongoing project.
The newly-arrived atmospheric column will be installed at the world’s largest single-train facility, Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery, which is expected to be fully operational by 2021.
Featured Image Courtesy: MarketDigestNG