February 2018

Maintenance and Reliability

Eliminate mechanical seal failure in a crude distillation unit

Multiple mechanical seal failures in a crude distillation unit (CDU) resulted in total losses of $3 MM in a refinery since its startup in January 2015. The maximum seal life achieved did not exceed 6 mos, which was much shorter than the American Petroleum Institute (API) 682 “Advancements in Mechanical Sealing” goal of 3 yr of seal life.

Telmesani, A. A., Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company (YASREF) Ltd.

Multiple mechanical seal failures in a crude distillation unit (CDU) resulted in total losses of $3 MM in a refinery since its startup in January 2015. The maximum seal life achieved did not exceed 6 mos, which was much shorter than the American Petroleum Institute (API) 682 “Advancements in Mechanical Sealing” goal of 3 yr of seal life. The root causes of failure for the mechanical seals for 16 hot hydrocarbon service pumps (with operating temperatures in excess of 250°C) are discussed here, and solutions are demonstrated to eliminate failures and improve plant reliability. CDU hot pumps are equipped with API seal flushing Plan 32 (injection to seal chamber from an external source) and AP

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