| Thinnes, Billy, Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX
The train derailment that
killed at least 38 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, has
heightened safety concerns about crude oil shipments by rail.
It has been confirmed that the oil was being transported by
Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) to Irving
Oils refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. The MMA said
improperly secured air brakes may be to blame for the
derailment, which set off fires and explosions that destroyed
much of the center of Lac-Mégantic. The railway is
a key link for oil from the Bakken formation and Canadian oil
sands to Irving Oils Saint John refinery. Shipments of
crude by rail have increased; oil shipments in Canada have
almost tripled over the past two years, to more than 14,000 car
loadings so far this year. The Quebec disaster is the fourth
freight train accident under investigation involving crude oil
shipments since the beginning of the year, according to the
Canadian Transportation Safety Board.
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Engineers and designers are highly skilled individuals. Forcing them to enter design changes using tables, forms and spreadsheets is unproductive and uneconomical, and it increases the likelihood of human error—this is the way that most instrumentation software systems currently work. For too long, software vendors have denied engineers and designers the simple practicality of a graphical visual engineering interface with “drag and drop” capability and inbuilt intelligence, ensuring changes are automatically replicated into all the associated data and databases.
D. GIBSON, AVEVA
As low oil prices make naphtha cracking margins in Europe and Asia more competitive, are investments in new, ethane-based petrochemicals capacity in the US and Middle East becoming less attractive?
Yes, ethane cracking is less economical
No, ethane cracking is still the future
Too early to tell