Chromalox Keeps Crude Oil Flowing Despite Frigid Northern Temperatures

The Challenge

In a frigid climate of Northern Canada, where temperatures can drop to a staggering -40oF (-40oC), heavy bitumen needs to keep flowing when arriving at a railway terminal for the trip south to US refineries.  The oil is pumped via 3” – 12” (7.62cm - 30.48cm) pipelines for loading and unloading onto rail cars.  

To keep the highly flammable crude oil flowing, it needs to be safely heated to 80oF-100oF (26.67oC-37.78oC), and maintained at this temperature throughout the process.  The load out facility requires zero down time while moving 100,00 bbl/day into more than 100 tanker cars per 24-hour period. 

The Solution

To consistently maintain the crude oil, 30,000’ (9144 m) of Chromalox SRM/E self-regulating, heat trace cable was installed in the pipelines for process temperature maintenance. This heat trace cable is powered by 208 volts at 30amps and controlled through two customized 108-circuit ITLS Control Panel. These panels utilize the ITLS Control Panel platform with two Human Machine Interface (HMI) screens for ease-of-use and setup configurations. The ITLS Control Panel provides a touch screen computer with real-time information, including process variables, set points, alarm settings, load current, load demand, and much more.  

Prior to installation the Chromalox project engineering team worked closely with an Alberta-based engineer and an electrical contractor to assist in lowering operating and installation costs. The result ensured optimal process flow resulting in higher output, increased capacity, and reduced tanker car filling times.

Overall safety was increased through temperature and sensor alarms provided by the ITLS Control Panel. These alarms enable the user to anticipate process upset conditions prior to them becoming a risk to output or personnel safety. In addition, Chromalox meets the safety standards of Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), Factory Mutual and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The ITLS control panels allow for Modbus RTU communication to the site’s DCS system. 

Chromalox built and shipped the custom panels within 8 weeks of approval drawings allowing the site to stay on construction schedule.  The Edmonton, Canada manufacturing and warehouse facility provided cable and components from the shelf on an as-need basis. 

The Benefits

  1. Safely heating highly flammable crude oil
  2. Implementing control systems to increase process reliability and system safety
  3. Decreasing installation, operation and maintenance costs
  4. Protecting construction schedule and plant start-up date