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PMSS: Near miss reporting for SIF reduction

Documenting, communicating and resolving near misses can help reduce incidents that cause serious injury or death. Jacob Hencke, with PROtect, emphasized this in his presentation during the Plant Maintenance and Safety Summit, Dec. 16 and 17.

Hencke presented during the panel “Your Most Valuable Asset: Deploying Safety Strategies Aimed at Eliminating Lost Time Injuries, Near Misses.”

“Your most valuable asset: your people,” he said.

Not all incidents have the same risk level, so they can’t all be evaluated through the same lens, Hencke said. A fall from an elevated platform is a serious injury or fatality (SIF) incident, whereas a fall on slippery ice on the ground is a non-SIF incident.

A SIF includes fatality, life-threatening injury or illness, and life-altering injury or illness. Life-threatening injuries are those that are likely to lead to death without immediate medical attention. Life-altering injuries could include injury that causes permanent or long-term impairment of organs, function, or a body part. Hencke cited burns as an example of a life-altering injury.

Hencke shared a story about employees raking coal in a powerhouse. Employees knew that if too much coal piled up, it would release a fireball while raking. They told each other informally about this risk, but it was not reported or documented as a near miss. “Employees didn’t recognize this hazard, that it had serious injury potential and it should be dealt with.”

SIF precursors like this can go unnoticed because they’re identified in near misses or missed entirely due to lack of reporting, recognition or knowledge about the reporting process. But SIF precursors can be eliminated before they have a chance to occur, Hencke said.

Hencke implored managers to think critically about SIF near misses. “Do your employees readily identify near misses, or does your site simply not have near misses?” Do employees have near miss training? Do managers support near miss reporting? If one is reported, is it addressed in a positive manner to encourage further near miss reporting?

“Near misses are a critical part of not just regular safety, but specifically incidents that have serious injury, fatality potential,” Hencke said. 

SIF incidents could include mobile equipment operation, energy isolation, elevated work, suspended load, line break/chemical exposures, confined space, and contractor activities. But not all carry the same SIF potential, Hencke said. In a recent evaluation, PROtect found that 80 percent of mobile equipment operation had SIF potential, while confined space work was at 100 percent SIF potential.

“You have to take a multipronged approach,” he said.  

Robust near miss reporting would include incident investigation protocol with SIF precursor identification; and review for site-specific operations (hazardous operations, etc.).

Not all incidents are SIF, he cautioned, so reducing SIFs doesn’t necessarily reduce all hazardous incidents. But, of course, they’re the most dangerous and developing a protocol will help protect a plant’s most valuable assets.

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17827/pmss-near-miss-reporting-for-sif-reduction

PMSS: Classification, organization and documentation

It’s important to be aware of different safety and inspection requirements for different piping classifications, according to Jay Beckel, of PROtect. And don’t rely on your nondestructive testing (NDT) provider to keep track of it, he added.

Beckel was a speaker on an afternoon panel for the virtual Plant Maintenance and Safety Summit, Dec. 16 and 17. In Beckel’s presentation during the panel, “Miles of Pipe: Assuring the Mechanical Integrity of Your Plant’s Piping Matrix,” he talked about classification, organization, documentation and more. “Process safety information can be very, very vast,” he said. “Today, we’ll focus only on [piping and instrumentation diagrams] P&IDs.”

First, Beckel walked his audience through the four pipe classifications, including:

• Class 1 – Piping with the highest potential for emergency issues.
• Class 2 – Piping that is not otherwise classified.
• Class 3 – Piping containing flammable materials but not likely to vaporize, or located in remote areas where no significant consequences are likely.
• Class 4 – Piping containing nonflammable and nontoxic materials.

“Much of your piping probably is class 4,” Beckel said.

Each classification has its own inspection requirements, timeframe thickness and timeframe visual. But there’s more to consider. “Did any of you know that there could be minimum thickness?

Of utmost importance in a P&ID is an accurate legend, preferably just one, Beckel says. “With too many, it makes it hard to follow along.”

The legend should include at minimum: materials of construction; line size; pressure rating; whether the pipe is insulated or not; whether it’s heat traced or not; coating type; other piping details including classification, which should be on each line of the P&ID; and line numbers for all lines that follow the legend.

“It’s pretty straightforward, but you’d be amazed at the plants that don’t have something on each line for their P&IDs,” Beckel said.  

“And you need a documented approach to tie all these things together,” Beckel said, listing pressure vessels, piping and tanks, transmitters and pumps. “All the pieces of the puzzle you have in your plant, you should have in your written approach to pipeline integrity.”

It should be plant specific, not a prepared program, he added. “Hold your contractors and staff accountable.”

Traditional Vs. Advanced

NDT can be traditional or advanced, Beckel said. Traditional is a visual approach with thickness. Advanced can include magnetic flux leakage, automated ultrasound thickness mapping, guided wave technology and pulsed eddy current.

Of magnetic flux leakage, Beckel said, “The technology is super. It really helps to ID pitting and gradual wall loss.” But it only works on carbon steel, he added.

Automated ultrasound thickness mapping needs to be on and insulated surface, he said, and can be used manually or in an automated fashion. “Automated UT mapping is pretty advanced. It’s a good system to have in place. It can really identify a lot of things you could miss.” The pipes must be clean for this method, he said.  

Guided wave can inspect up to 1,150 feet of pipe from one location. “It’s a great technology for underground piping or other inaccessible piping,” he said, adding it has 100 percent coverage even with clamps or sleeves in place.

Pulsed eddy current is good for corrosion detection, as it can scan through thick insulation and even fireproofing, Beckel said. It can map and accurately identify remaining wall thickness without removing insulation.

Organization

The P&ID might have 150 to 300 different line numbers in a given section of the plant, Beckel told his audience. So, when spread out to the entire plant—the slurry tank all the way to loadout—the number grows exponentially. “It’ll take some organization, and spreadsheets might not be the best way,” he said.

Beckel strongly recommended an asset Integrity management platform that organizes by area or line number, has the capacity to compare with other facilities in the industry or corporation, easily identifies corrosion and erosion, and ties in with incident management system.

Armed with all this information, Beckel cautioned his audience on one last item:

“Don’t fall into the trap of only regulatory requirements. This needs to be a risk-focused approach, not solely about regulations.

“Your work is never done,” he added. “You’ll always want to improve.”

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17822/pmss-classification-organization-and-documentation

EIA: Ethanol production down 2%, stocks increase by 2%

U.S. fuel ethanol production fell by nearly 2 percent the week ending Nov. 27, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Dec. 2. Weekly ending stocks increased by 2 percent.

U.S. ethanol production fell to 974,000 barrels per day the week ending Nov. 27, down 16,000 barrels per day when compared to the 990,000 barrels per day of production reported for the previous week. When compared to the 1.06 barrels per day of production reported for the same period of last year, production was down 86,000 barrels per day.

Production of fuel ethanol has stabilized in recent months after falling to historic lows in the spring of 2020 due to market impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ethanol

production hit a low of 537,000 barrels per day the week ending April 24, but began to recover in May and June as travel restrictions associated with the pandemic began to ease and demand for transportation fuels started to recover. Production levels since July have been maintained at a level above 900,000 barrels per day, but are down roughly 10 percent when compared to the same period of last year.

Weekly ending stocks of fuel ethanol increased to 21.24 million barrels the week ending Nov. 27, up 374,000 barrels when compared to the 20.866 million barrels of stocks reported for the previous week. Stocks of fuel ethanol trended down for several months after reaching a record high of 27.289 million barrels the week ending April 17 and remained at levels below those reported for the same period of last year through mid-November. Ending stocks, however, have been growing in recent weeks. When compared to the same week of last year, ethanol stocks for the week ending Nov. 27 were up 601,000 barrels.

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17779/eia-ethanol-production-down-2-stocks-increase-by-2

UNICA: Ethanol exports remain high in early November

UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, has announced the production of hydrous ethanol was down during the first half of November. Ethanol exports and the production of corn ethanol, however, continued to trend higher.

Mills in the south-central region of Brazil processed 20.34 million tons of sugarcane during the first half of November, up 2.24 percent when compared to the same period of last year. Since the beginning of the current harvest season, which began April 1, 585.73 million tons of sugarcane have been processed by mills in the region, up 3.69 percent when compared to the same period of last year.

As of Nov. 16, 147 mills in the region have closed for the season, including 80 during the first half of November. According to UNICA, 126 mills had ceased operations during the same period of 2019.

Ethanol production for the first half of November was at 1.18 billion liters (311.72 million gallons), down 9.58 percent when compared to the same period of last year. Hydrous ethanol accounted for 680.91 million liters of that volume, down 22.41 percent, and anhydrous ethanol accounted for 498.77 million liters, up 16.77 percent.

Since the beginning of the current harvest, ethanol production reached 28.29 billion liters, including 19.25 billion liters of hydrous ethanol and 9.05 billion liters of anhydrous ethanol.

Corn ethanol production was at 114.53 million liters during the first half of November and has reached 1.52 billion liters since the beginning of the harvest season, up 87.42 percent when compared to the same period of 2019.

Mills in the south-central region sold 1.32 billion liters of ethanol during the first half of November, including 139.43 million liters destined for export. Domestically, sales of hydrous ethanol were at 790.79 million liters, down 17.26 percent, while sales of anhydrous ethanol reached 394.55 million liters, up 2.18 percent.

Sales since the beginning of the current harvest season have reached 19.05 billion liters, down 12.46 percent. Of that volume, 17.1 billion liters were sold domestically, down 16 percent, while exports were at 1.94 billion liters, up 40.82 percent.  

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17782/unica-ethanol-exports-remain-high-in-early-november

EIA maintains 2021 forecast for fuel ethanol production

The U.S. Energy Information Administration slightly increased its forecast for 2021 fuel ethanol production in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Dec. 8. The forecast for 2020 ethanol production was maintained.

The EIA currently predicts ethanol production will average 900,000 barrels per day in 2020, a forecast maintained from the November STEO. The forecast for 2021 is now at 980,000 barrels per day, up from the 970,000 barrel per day estimate made last month. Production averaged 1.03 million barrels per day in 2019.

On a quarterly basis, U.S. ethanol production is expected to average 920,000

barrels per day in the fourth quarter of this year, increasing to 960,000 barrels per day during the first and second quarters of next year, increasing to 990,000 barrels per day during third and fourth quarters.

The EIA currently predicts ethanol blending will average 820,000 barrels per day in 2019, down from an estimate of 830,000 barrels per day made last month. The forecast for 2021 blending has been maintained at 890,000 barrels per day. Blending averaged 950,000 barrels per day in 2019.

The EIA’s most recent weekly ethanol production data shows production was at 974,000 barrels per day the week ending Nov. 27, down from 990,000 barrels per day the previous week.

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17793/eia-maintains-2021-forecast-for-fuel-ethanol-production

Rex reports strong Q3, but cautions margins are deteriorating

Rex American Resource Inc. reported a significant increase in gross profit during a third quarter earnings call, held Dec. 3, with the One Earth Energy LLC and NuGen Energy LLC plants running at capacity. The company cautioned, however, that crush spreads are deteriorating.

Douglas Bruggeman, chief financial officer at Rex, said sales increased 43 percent during the quarter, primarily due to increased production levels. Ethanol sales for the quarter were based on 74.6 million gallons, compared to 47.6 million gallons during the same period of last year.

Bruggeman confirmed Rex operated its consolidated plants at full capacity during the three-month period. The company’s consolidated plants include the One Earth Energy facility in Gibson City, Illinois, and the NuGen Energy plant in Marion, South Dakota. The NuGen plant ran a reduced rate during the third quarter of 2019 due to tight corn supplies in the region.

Moving into the fourth quarter, Stuart Rose, executive chairman of Rex, said that the company is still profitable, but cautioned that crush spreads have deteriorated rapidly over the last 30 days. Zafar Rizvi, president and CEO, attributed the decline in crush margin to higher corn prices.

Rizvi also offered an update of the carbon sequestration project under development by the University of Illinois and One Earth Energy. He said the University of Illinois is in the process of evaluating a permit application to drill a test well and expects to receive a permit in the first quarter of next year and drill the test well within the first half of 2021.

Rex currently holds ownership interest in six ethanolplants, including 75.3 percent ownership interest in Gibson City, Illinois-based One Earth Energy LLC, 99.5 percent ownership interest in Marion, South Dakota-based NuGen Energy LLC, 10.3 percent ownership interest in West Burlington, Iowa-based Big River Resources West Burlington LLC, 10.3 percent ownership interest in Galva, Illinois-based Big River Resources Galva LLC, 5.7 percent ownership interest in Dyersville, Iowa-based Big River United Energy LLC, and 10.3 percent ownership interest in Boyceville, Wisconsin-based Big River Resources Boyceville LLC.

Rex reported $124.22 million in sales for its ethanol and byproducts segment for its fiscal third quarter, which ended Oct. 31, up from $86.6 million during the same period of last year. Total net sales were at $124.25 million, up from $86.67 million.

Gross profit for the ethanol and byproducts segment was $18.93 million, up from $28,000. Total gross profit was $17.68 million, compared to a gross loss of $1.76 million during the third quarter of 2019.

Net income attributable to Rex shareholders was $8.8 million, compared to a net loss of $2.1 million. Basic and diluted net income per share attributable to Rex common shareholders was $1.44, compared to a net loss per share of 32 cents during the same period of last year.

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17784/rex-reports-strong-q3-but-cautions-margins-are-deteriorating

EIA: Ethanol production up 2%, stocks up 4%

U.S. fuel ethanol production increased by nearly 2 percent the week ending Dec. 4, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Dec. 9. Ethanol stocks were up by approximately 4 percent.

U.S. ethanol production averaged 991,000 barrels per day the week ending Dec. 4, up 17,000 barrels per day when compared to the 974,000 barrels per day produced during the previous week. When compared to the same week of last year, production was down 81,000 barrels per day.

Production of fuel ethanol has stabilized in recent months after falling to historic lows in the spring of 2020 due to market impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ethanol production hit a low of 537,000 barrels per day the week ending April 24, but began to

recover in May and June as travel restrictions associated with the pandemic began to ease and demand for transportation fuels started to recover. Production levels since July have been maintained at a level above 900,000 barrels per day, but are down roughly 10 percent when compared to the same period of last year.

Weekly ending stocks of fuel ethanol expanded to 22.083 million barrels the week ending Dec. 4, up 843,000 barrels when compared to the 21.24 million barrels of stocks reported for the previous week. Stocks of fuel ethanol trended down for several months after reaching a record high of 27.289 million barrels the week ending April 17 and remained at levels below those reported for the same period of 2019 through mid-November. Ending stocks, however, have been growing in recent weeks. When compared to the same week of last year, ethanol stocks for the week ending Dec. 4 were up 268,000 barrels.

Source: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/17799/eia-ethanol-production-up-2-stocks-up-4

Growth Energy outlines 2021 biofuel policy priorities

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today outlined the biofuels industry’s top federal priorities for 2021, highlighting key measures that elected leaders must take to protect the climate, revitalize rural communities, and offer more consumers clean, affordable options to fuel their cars.

“Biofuels, including plant-based ethanol, are critical tools for decarbonizing America’s existing transportation fleet and supporting our nation’s farmers and rural communities. Solvable challenges in this area await leaders in Congress and the next administration,” said Skor.

“As a climate solution,” Skor added, “biofuels will be key to meeting the nation’s goals for the transportation sector, America’s largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

“To maximize the value of America’s low-carbon biofuels, it’s vital that officials address outstanding issues that are hindering our industry’s ability to access markets, promote innovation, and create rural jobs,” she said.

Specifically, Skor highlighted the association’s key priorities and opportunities where elected leaders can help reverse setbacks experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, promote better fuel choices, and protect the environment. These include:

Restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuels Standard

Eliminating barriers to higher blends to accelerate market access

Expanding the role of biofuels in a clean energy future at home and abroad 

“Addressing these issues, in addition to continued support to stabilize the industry from the impacts of COVID-19, can bring significant economic benefits for rural communities across the country and bolster the incoming administration’s plans to Build Back Better. We look forward to working with leaders in Congress and the next administration to advance these important initiatives in renewable energy,” said Skor.

Credit Source: http://www.ethanolproducer.com/articles/17753/growth-energy-outlines-2021-biofuel-policy-priorities