Growing success

CHANGE has become a constant theme at the Martin Resource Management Corporation storage terminal in Beaumont, Texas. Two new asphalt/bunker oil storage tanks and a new sulfur tank came on line during 2002. Rail transloading capabilities were added in February 2003.

Opened in May 1999, the 23-acre terminal is the newest and most varied in the Martin system. Sulfur, fuel oil, and sulfuric acid are the commodities handled now, but other products can be accommodated based on customer demand.

“This facility has a lot of potential for future growth, and we designed it to be a model for other locations,” says Reuben S Martin, president of Martin Resource Management Corporation, parent corporation of several Martin affiliated entities operating out of Stanolind terminal. “We want to be a provider of niche terminaling services.

“At the Beaumont Stanolind facility, we have access to about 200 acres owned by Jefferson Triangle Properties LP, giving us plenty of room for expansion if a viable project is proposed. We now have truck, marine, and rail access.”

Don R Neumeyer, vice-president of operations for Martin Resource Management, says the storage terminal fits well with the company's transportation operations. “Martin has tank truck, rail, and barge assets, all of which support the storage terminal operation,” he says. “Storage customers are able to arrange their own transportation.”

Neumeyer adds that storage terminaling stands out from tank trucking in terms of financial performance. Martin is getting a better return on investment from the terminal operation.

“Earnings on terminal operations are steady,” he says. “In addition, insurance costs are substantially lower.”

The Beaumont Stanolind storage terminal is one of five in the Martin terminal network. Martin operates a similar facility for molten sulfur, fuel oil, and sulfuric acid at Port Sutton in Tampa, Florida. Martin also has LP-gas storage operations in Arcadia, Louisiana, and Mont Belvieu, Texas. Midstream Fuel Service Inc, another subsidiary, has a petroleum storage terminal in Mobile, Alabama, that handles bunker oil and various grades of fuel oils.

The Beaumont Stanolind facility is the largest in the Martin terminal network with capacity of 46,500 long tons for molten sulfur, 50,750 short tons for sulfuric acid, and 160,000 barrels for asphalt/bunker oil. There is room for additional tankage for these and other products.

Sulfur and sulfuric acid are in-house businesses handled through Martin Resource Management affiliates, and the terminal was built in 1999 primarily for that activity. However, a third-party customer is using the asphalt/bunker oil storage.

Molten sulfur arrives by tank truck, rail tankcar, and inland barge and is shipped by ocean-going barge, with virtually all of the outbound loads going to Tampa for use in fertilizer production. Martin Transport handles all of the in-bound tank truck shipments, which range from 75 to 100 a day. It takes about 11 minutes to unload a 4,000-gallon tank trailer.

“At our busiest, we've had 106 tractor-trailer units through the molten sulfur operation in a 24-hour period,” says Joel Herrington, Beaumont terminal manager. “The average is 80 to 90 a day.”

Sulfuric acid comes in by pipeline or ship and is loaded out on truck, barge, and rail. Tank trailers can be loaded in eight to 10 minutes at a rate of 400 to 600 gallons per minute. Martin Transport handles the overwhelming majority of acid shipments.

Currently, the asphalt/bunker oil tanks are dedicated to bunker oil (#6 oil) for use as fuel for ships. Inbound and outbound movements are by inland barge or larger vessels. Loading rates at the terminal are 3,000 to 3,500 barrels per hour.

Sulfur storage

Three storage tanks at the terminal are for molten sulfur, and all are insulated. These tanks, as well as all of the other storage tanks at the facility, were erected by Matrix Service Inc, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tanks were insulated by Insultherm Inc, LaPorte, Texas.

The newest of the three sulfur tanks has a 16,500-long-ton capacity and was completed in June 2002. The new carbon steel tank has a double-bottom floor with four inches of sand between the primary and secondary floors.

At the molten sulfur unloading rack, two trailers at a time can be emptied. Product is handled through Titan hoses.

For outbound shipments, molten sulfur is pumped out to a dock that can accommodate inland and ocean-going barges, as well as tankers. Located on a tributary a quarter mile off the Neches River, adjacent to the Stanolind Anchorage, the dock can handle vessels up to 650 feet long and 106 feet wide. Maximum draft at the dock is 33 feet, and a 90-acre turning basin facilitates vessel handling.

Acid handling

On the sulfuric acid side, product arrives through a six-inch pipeline from a nearby chemical plant in Beaumont or from ocean-going vessel. Two grades of sulfuric acid — 98% and 96% — are stored in bulk at the terminal. Dilution capabilities make it possible to provide acid at a range of percentages.

Three converted LP-gas rail tankcars provide short-term storage for sulfuric acid that has been diluted to various percentages. The tanks are in cradles on a concrete pad.

“Most of our customers want 93% sulfuric acid,” Herrington says. “We also have demand for 85% and 70%, which we transport in tank trailers lined with Derakane, a phenolic material.

“We have on-rack dilution capabilities, which makes it very easy to do the custom dilutions. We use a heat exchanger during dilution to keep the acid temperature below 95°F. The process can generate temperatures of 150°F to 170°F, and the acid becomes very corrosive above 100°F.”

Loading velocities are kept below three feet per second to combat corrosion in pipes and valves. The acid forms a natural protective coating inside the piping and storage tanks, and faster loading velocities can erode that protection.

Loading rack

Two lanes at the acid rack make it possible to load two trailers at a time. Typical capacity for the tank trailers is 3,500 gallons. Tractor-trailer rigs are weighed before proceeding to the loading rack. Next, the driver and loading operator perform a preload inspection.

Terminal personnel do all acid loading. A crew of 12 keeps the terminal operational 24 hours a day. A minimum of two operators are on duty at all times. Personal protective equipment at the acid rack includes half-face respirator, hardhat, face shield, gloves, and slicker suit or Gore-Tex coveralls.

Green Manufacturing Inc, Bowling Green, Ohio, supplied the galvanized loading rack platform, safety bridges, and other structures. Stainless steel loading arms are from Emco Wheaton DTM. Boston and Wilcox hoses are used for acid transfer.

Product is transferred to the loading rack by Durco centrifugal pumps. Flow is controlled by Alloy 20 gate valves and Amri butterfly valves, and flow rates are monitored by Micro Motion and Petro-Count meters. Filtration is available to meet specific customer requirements.

In the newest section of the terminal are the two asphalt/bunker oil tanks that were completed in May 2002. Constructed of carbon steel, the tanks are configured for filling from top or bottom.

In addition to being insulated, the tanks are heated with hot oil circulating through six piping coil banks on the tank floor. Product transfer piping and valves are heated electrically. Proper temperature is maintained by Contrec temperature controls.

To help insure even heating of the bunker oil and to prevent settling, each storage tank has two Mix Mor mixers. In addition, compressed air can be injected into the product.

Rail access is the newest improvement at Martin's Stanolind terminal. The connection linking the terminal with Kansas City Southern's rail line was completed in February 2003. Inbound deliveries of molten sulfur commenced immediately, and other products can now be shipped and received by rail.

In all aspects, the Beaumont terminal was designed to meet the best storage practices for the products now handled. The same effort will be brought to other products as the terminal grows.

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