Despite the production and pricing challenges seen in 2020, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exports continue to remain strong in 2021, said Chris Niemeyer, process technology manager at Burns & McDonnell.

He said propane exports are still topping one billion barrels (bbl) per day. Additionally, a rise in ethane crackers in China is leading to an increase in demand for exported ethane.

Neimeyer said: “For grassroots and revamped export terminals, thoughtful optimisation is key to minimising installed capital. Optimisation maximises terminal and dock utilisation, while still reducing operation costs and overcoming plot constraints.

“Once forecasts are made, pipeline capacity from a fractionation facility to the terminal will need to be built or expanded. Many other logistical factors need to be considered to provide plants with the ability to continue operations, while producing enough product to match demand.”

He said managing both total installed cost (TIC) and operational efficiency is a difficult balance to maintain. A major consideration in planning for these drivers is the decision to install a tank or use a direct load system. While a significant investment upfront, tanks can help plants manage inventory and uncertainties in ship scheduling.

Product supply into the tank is steady, with the tank level effectively managing load swings. This allows use of a smaller supply pipeline diameter and smaller refrigeration equipment installed at the plant.

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12th April 2021