Pipelines face stiff challenges with ULSD
Nov 16, 2004 8:59 AM
Significant changes will be needed in the distribution process to ensure that ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) can be shipped efficiently and cost effectively, according to representatives from the petroleum pipeline industry who spoke November 15 at the Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Implementation Workshop in New Orleans LA. Meeting the challenges could add anywhere from 20 cents to 60 cents to a gallon of diesel fuel meeting the 15 ppm requirement.
A major cause of the cost increase on the pipeline side is a significantly larger interface between shipments of ULSD and other refined petroleum products. The interface is the area at the beginning and end of a pipeline shipment that mixes with other products that are also being moved through the pipeline. The ULSD interface will be 50 to 100 percent larger than occurs with diesel fuel currently used in heavy-duty trucks. The interface is out of spec and must be downgraded or reprocessed.
Recent tests show that ULSD fuel will gain 1-2 parts per million in sulfur with each handoff in a pipeline shipment. A handoff occurs when a shipment is moved from one pipeline to another or is routed through a terminal. The more times that happens, the more the sulfur content will be raised. The best the refineries can do is produce ULSD fuel that is in the 6-7 ppm range.
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