What Works: Integrated burner management system increases safety, avoids false trips

Redundant safety shutdown system meets NFPA requirements without false trips.

Alon USA acquired ownership of the Big Spring, Texas refinery in August 2000 when Alon Israel Oil Company Ltd. purchased FINA Oil and Chemical Company's U.S. fuels marketing and refining assets. In service for more than 75 years, Alon’s Big Spring Refinery produces 70,000 barrels per day, converting mainly crude oil from the Permian Basin and delivers products to markets from Ft. Smith, Arkansas to Phoenix via owner-operated and third-party pipelines.

Today, the Big Spring refinery employs approximately 170 people, and has the potential to increase production capacity to about 75,000 barrels per day. Alon plans to expand its FINA and 7-Eleven gas station operations throughout the Southwestern U.S. and will tap that extra capacity as its marketing presence rises.

While installing a new heater in the crude unit, Alon needed to comply with U.S. National Fire and Prevention Association (NFPA) codes as well as meet the requirements for a reliable, fully-redundant safety shutdown system for heater burner management. After examining offerings from several suppliers, the company selected Safety Manager from Honeywell (www.honeywell.com). Alon had already deployed Honeywell’s TDC 3000 control system plant-wide.

“We needed a safety system that would help us meet the safety goals of the refinery and NFPA standards on a new heater we installed at the Big Spring refinery, yet still integrate with our other products and systems,” says Byron Lewis, process control specialist at the Big Spring Refinery.

“Honeywell’s Safety Manager was definitely a fit for what we needed.”

The new heater project included installing the Experion and Safety Manager systems to provide an integrated system. Safety Manager was installed in December 2004.

The system can shut down the heater based on results of monitoring the critical conditions as required by the NFPA. As part of its operator training, Alon used HMI Web graphics to help explain certain thresholds. Since startup of the new heater in February 2005, the system has been online 100% and no thresholds have been compromised.

“This heater unit was new to our Big Spring refinery and we wanted to use the newest technology to help monitor it, as well as integrate with Experion and the rest of our systems,” says Lewis. “Honeywell wrote the code to Alon’s specifications and we were able to customize the interface.”

The plant cites these benefits from the Safety Manager system:

  • Operated online 100% since installation without crossing any thresholds
  • Met strict burner-management compliance standards of the NFPA for fire prevention and public safety
  • Integrated, single-view console with other products including Honeywell’s TDC 3000 control system and Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) platform
  • Produced code to Alon’s specifications and with a customized single-view interface
  • Provided reliable testing and improved safety processes

Installing Safety Manager on Alon’s new crude unit heater was important because it carries about 40% of the crude unit heater load. “Safety Manager met all the regulations and safety requirements we had. Honeywell provided great support and met all our critical deadlines to improve process safety and operability,” Lewis concludes.

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