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Case Study

Oil refinery

A steam conditioning plant helps an oil refinery meet US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for hydrocarbon emissions.

Customer benefits


A major global energy provider, capable of processing over 2 million barrels of crude oil per day with refineries in the US, UK, and Germany, was not meeting US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for hydrocarbon emissions.  Their Los Angeles refinery was experiencing issues with its flare systems.  Flares are used within refineries to safely and efficiently burn off hydrocarbons during upset conditions or when a section of the facility is non-operational.  As a result, excess hydrocarbons were being released into the atmosphere and the refinery was at risk of being shut down.

Engineer inspecting refinery equipment


As a steam and condensate business partner, GESTRA was contacted to help find a solution.  After investigating, it was apparent that the problem was that the flares were located several thousand feet away from the source of steam generation.

This meant that, by the time the steam reached the flare, it was wet. As a result, the ultrasonic flowmeter used to measure and control steam was unable to provide a consistent, accurate flow measurement.  Therefore, steam control to the flare was poor resulting in inefficient flame control and increased emissions. The solution was to install a steam conditioning plant, consisting of a separator with a ball float trap, upstream of the ultrasonic flowmeter to remove the excess moisture and improve steam quality.


Once it was installed and commissioned, the flowmeter began to perform accurately, leading to improved steam flow control and eradicating excessive hydrocarbon emissions.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was pleased with the solution, and the refinery avoided being shut down.  This major global energy provider repeated this solution in 5 more locations and is considering making this a standard for their other US refineries.

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