Storage & Terminaling section

April 1, 2000
GROWING demand in South America for shipments of bulk plastics is bringing opportunity for storage terminal operators throughout the region. Tequimar's

GROWING demand in South America for shipments of bulk plastics is bringing opportunity for storage terminal operators throughout the region. Tequimar's Paulista Intermodal Terminal (TIP) near Paulinia, Sao Paulo, is one of the beneficiaries of the trend.

The Brazilian storage terminal operator partnered with Eastman Chemical last year to store and distribute polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic pellets throughout Brazil. The five-year contract was finalized in mid 1999, and the operation was up and running before the end of November.

"We believe our TIP operation sets the standard for plastics storage and distribution arrangements in this region," says Daniel Lisak, director of the TIP operation. "We installed a state-of-the-art storage system and, for the first time in our company, we have onsite transportation capabilities.

"We believe there will be even more calls for plastics storage in the next few years, and we are positioned to serve that demand. We can add plastics storage at our other terminal locations, or we can build new facilities to meet specific customer requirements."

Five Terminals TIP is the newest of five storage terminals operated by Tequimar, a subsidiary of UltraCargo, which is a subsidiary of the Ultra Group. Focusing on chemicals and other liquid commodities, the terminals are in Suape, Pernambuco; Maceio, Alagoas; Aratu, Bahia; and Santos, Sao Paulo. Also part of UltraCargo is Transultra, one of the largest tank truck carriers in Brazil.

"Transultra provides the transportation for the TIP terminal, and we have 39 tractor-trailer rigs assigned to the facility," Lisak says. "This is the first time we have domiciled Transultra vehicles at a Tequimar location."

For plastic pellets, Transultra has stationed four 39-cubic-meter (1,300-cu-ft) dry bulkers at the facility. Other equipment includes 10 chemical tankers and 25 propane trailers.

The Transultra rigs haul both the plastic pellets and the liquid chemicals stored at the TIP facility. The 150,000- square-meter (37.1-acre) terminal has the capacity to store 1,800 cubic meters (63,500 cu ft) of plastic pellets and 3.5 million liters (924,700 gallons) of chemicals.

Inbound Shipments Inbound shipments arrive by tank truck, rail, and intermodal container. For instance, plastic pellets are shipped to TIP in dry box containers with plastic liners from the Eastman Chemical plant in Argentina. The Transultra rigs handle all of the outbound movements.

While the Eastman Chemical contract calls for TIP to distribute plastics throughout Brazil, most of the customers are in the southeastern part of the country. Most deliveries are to locations in the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro.

The plastics are offloaded into nine aluminum Zeppelin silos that each have a capacity of 200 cubic meters (7,000 cubic feet). The Eastman Chemical business already has grown to the point that plans are being developed to add three more silos.

A Koch tilt table makes it possible to unload one 20-ft container an hour. Product is moved to the silos with a Roots-type blower through dedicated lines that make it possible to isolate each silo in the event of contamination. Loading of trailers for outbound shipments is by gravity.

Liquid Chemicals Liquid chemicals handled by TIP include linear alkyl benzene (LAB), LAB-sulfur (LAS), paraxylene, and alcohol. LAB is stored in two carbon steel tanks 1.2 million liters (317,000 gallons) and 600,000 liters (158,500 gallons). LAS is in a single 600,000-liter epoxy-lined tank. Paraxylene and alcohol are each in 600,000-liter carbon steel tanks. All of the tanks have Sobrep pressure/vacuum-relief vents.

"We have plenty of room for growth at the TIP location, and we're already planning to build two additional storage tanks for paraxylene," Lisak says. "These will be 2.5-million-liter (660,500-gallon) tanks. Like the other paraxylene tank, they will have activated carbon filtration for vapors."

The TIP operation is designed for short-term storage, and most of the liquid inventory is turned five to six times a month. However, paraxylene turn rates are even higher 10 to 12 times a month.

A majority of the liquid chemicals arrive by rail, but TIP can accommodate inbound truck shipments. Rail service remains somewhat limited because Brazil has different rail gauges in the north (one meter) and south (1.6 meter). Five railroads operate in the country, all of them privatized.

Up to 16 tankcars can be handled on the 900-meter (2,900-ft) siding that was constructed for the facility. Six tank-cars at a time can be unloaded, and it takes about half an hour to pump the product from a tankcar to the storage tank.

Direct Transfer Product also can be transferred directly from tankcar to tank trailer. Using just gravity, this takes about an hour. Two trailers at a time can be loaded directly.

TIP also has two loading stations for each of the storage tanks. Most of the products are handled by Ingersoll Dresser centrifugal pumps with 30-horsepower electric motors, but

LAS (a relatively viscous product) is transferred with a Netzsch screw pump.

Tank trailers are all top loaded at the terminal. Hoses are polypropylene with a stainless steel cover. TIP also has some wire-wound hoses that offer greater flexibility.

Before and after loading, tanker rigs are weighed on an 80-tonne (176,300-pound) Mettler-Toledo digital scale near the entrance to the property. Tractor-semitrailer rigs in Brazil can transport 45 tonnes (99,200 pounds) over the road.

Near the scale are the administrative buildings. They give the facility the flavor of a country estate. The terminal previously was part of a farm owned by a large corporation. The farm house was converted into offices, and the barn and other buildings have become workshops and related facilities. Mango trees shade the buildings.

A staff of 12 operates the TIP terminal, and the facility is open 24 hours a day. An onsite SGS laboratory performs sample analysis, and all inventories are monitored by computer. TIP plans to add automated tank gauging systems in the future.

Plans also are being developed for a warehouse that can handle super sacks of polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene. Bagged product will arrive by rail and will be transferred to dry bulk trailers for outbound shipment.