THE BIGGEST challenge for pipelines companies moving low and ultra-low sulfur fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, and jet fuel, is maintaining 15 parts per million (ppm) for on-highway product use, said Buster Brown of Colonial Pipeline Co, Atlanta, Georgia.
One of the major problems involves the transmix of various products moving through pipelines, or incompatible distillate mixing, such as jet fuel coming in contact with 15 ppm fuel that is destined for on-highway use. New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards to improve air quality are causing the pipeline procedures to be put in place — and are likely to reduce pipeline product volume by 8-12%.
“We have to decide how to maximize the fuel movement and still get it distributed,” Brown said.
In addition to pipeline companies working on the new requirement, pipeline customers are asking pipeline companies how they will distribute the fuel while at the same time maintaining the standard.
“Terminals have to know that they are getting fuel that meets the standard,” Brown said.
EPA will require the reduction of sulfur in on-highway diesel by 97%, starting in 2006, to enable engine manufacturers to use advanced emission-control technologies to meet the more stringent emission standards, according to EPA information.
The same approach of integrating engine and fuel controls as a system also was used in May 2004 when the agency finalized a comprehensive program to reduce emissions from nonroad diesel engines, which included decreasing sulfur in fuel used in nonroad diesel engines, locomotives, and marine diesel engines by more than 99 percent, beginning in 2007.
Should a batch of fuel not meet the standard, it could have to be loaded into a tank truck for transportation — and possibly used for heating oil or returned to the refinery.
He also posed the possibility that some refineries may decide to provide specific grades, rather than having to handle a variety that could reduce the ppm standard.
Among the pipeline issues are: sulfur specification and test method, online measurement, grades/location/volume, kerosene impact/grades, product sequence, tank farm flexibility, batch cutting, marker and dye requirements, cold flow properties, and lubricity.
He advised companies to determine what product grades, volume, and location will be required before movement begins. Storage tank capabilities must be evaluated.
“Create a plan based on projections and capabilities of how the system will work, including allowable grades, volumes, and transmix volumes,” Brown said.