Title: Powering Progress Behind the Scenes
11309 Shell San Jacinto October 4 2018
For more than a century, crude oil processing has helped enable society's mobility, powering the world's cars, ships planes and trains. In turn, the movement of people and goods has made development and prosperity possible in Texas and around the world.
Welcome to Shell Deer Park - a fully integrated refinery and chemical plant that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week—all due to the 2,700 men and women who work at this site.
This facility covers 2300 acres and is located on the ship channel about 20 miles east of downtown Houston.
This location provides the site with numerous transportation advantages when delivering and receiving products.
Annually an average of more than 2,500 marine vessels are loaded or offloaded at the site, that's about 100 million barrels of crude products, enough to fill the Astrodome over nine times.
Once the oil arrives at the site, the first stop is the Distillation Tower.
Crude is a mixture of different sized molecules. This tower boils the crude oil until it vaporizes, then cools it to separate it into light groups of molecules.
Let's take a closer look.
The smallest molecules rise to the very top, they are the lightest range of hydrocarbons which we turn into products like propane and butane.
This is Naphtha. Its journey continues to other units where its octane is increased and contaminants are removed to make gasoline.
Then at the middle range we have jet fuel which travels to the Hydrotreater where we use heat, hydrogen and a catalyst to remove sulfur, cleaning the fuel before this product is used in planes worldwide.
Finally, the largest molecules.
Down here it takes a bit more work to refine. This includes a visit to our catalytic cracker, or "cat cracker"—by mixing these large molecules with a catalyst and heating them to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit they break into smaller molecules producing gasoline and diesel.
Driving past the site you may see a white cloud coming from one of the units - this is steam produced by the wet gas scrubber, a key part of our process to recycle catalyst from the cat cracker and clean the air before routing it to the atmosphere. This helps us meet our objective to manufacture cleaner gasoline and diesel.
Okay, let's go back and check on the hydrocarbons. Through refining there are additional products that are created and used in the chemical plant, these are the building blocks for many of the items we use in everyday life.
Ethylene, propylene, and butylenes are used in plastics and detergents.
Isoprene, butadiene and piperyline are used to make latex paints and synthetic rubber.
Another thing you may notice while driving past the site is the flare stack in 2012, a flare gas recovery system was introduced to minimize flaring. This system collects gas that would be sent to the flare, compresses it and returns it to be used as a fuel source for furnaces and other equipment.
We strive to operate without flaring but in the event that we do flare we want our community to know flaring plays a key role in keeping our plant safe.
Once flared the hydrocarbon has been safely treated and potential emissions have been reduced by at least 98 percent.
Globally we keep safety, the environment and our neighbors at the heart of everything we do.
Shell's life-saving rules are designed to keep all workers at our sites safe, and we continue to work with and respond to our community.
Moreover our people are part of the local community - as little league coaches fun-run volunteers, and as members of the local fire station, and that's a responsibility that we take to heart.