World demand for refined petroleum products continues to increase, while the processed crude oil being produced becomes heavier and contains more sulfur. Demand is shifting toward lighter products primarily used for transportation, such as gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuels, with tighter product specifications and new rules limiting sulfur content. To meet the demand, product specifications, and sulfur restrictions, the industry is focusing on upgrading—conversion of heavy products, such as bunker fuel oil, produced from crude distillation, to lighter products such as gasoline, diesel, and jet kerosene—and hydroprocessing to remove sulfur compounds from the upgraded products.
Refining capacity, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, is becoming constrained, and avoiding unscheduled downtime is more important than ever. However, a single failure incident can cause injury, loss of life, extensive property damage, and loss of production. Refiners need to maximize process safety and reliability to minimize losses and downtime.
With over 40 years of experience analyzing thousands of failures, Exponent is a leader in the investigation of lossess due to such factors as material failures, fires, and explosions. These investigations range from high-loss disasters to small incidents, for major national and international oil refiners. This experience provides Exponent engineers and scientists unique insights in various risk and reliability, environmental impact, and health assessments, to help clients improve the safety of their personnel, processes, and facilities and minimize operational disruptions and property loss. Additionally, our expertise in risk assessment, release characterization, dispersion modeling, vapor-cloud explosion analysis, industrial hygiene, toxicology, and epidemiology allows us to comprehensively examine the consequences of both hypothetical and actual releases of toxic and flammable substances.
Exponent has a wide range of in-house expertise that integrates the latest process, safety, risk, and environmental developments into our work. As a result, we can address everything from a small analysis to a large, complex, multi-disciplinary project. The capabilities of our scientists and engineers allow Exponent to offer the following services:
- Accident and incident investigation
- Root-cause analysis (RCA)
- Fire and explosion analysis
- Fire protection engineering
- Fitness-for-service evaluation
- Specification, corrosion control, and failure analysis of materials
- Evaluation of pressure-relief systems, vessels, and piping
- Analysis of atmospheric releases, spills, and environmental fate
- Groundwater and soil remediation support
- Compliance with standards and regulations
- Risk and reliability analysis and quantitative risk assessment
- Process hazards analysis (PHA)
- Hazard and operability analysis (HAZOP)
- Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA)
- Review of process safety management (PSM) and risk management program (RMP)
- Safety and health training
- Environmental impact and baseline assessments
- Site security and vulnerability analysis
- Site investigation and remediation
- Hydrology and groundwater monitoring
- Project management, performance, scheduling, and construction delay analysis
Exponent engineers and scientists regularly publish in leading technical journals, present at conferences, serve on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) technical committees, chair American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) conference sessions, and provide peer review for journals such as Process Safety Progress, Journal of Petroleum Science & Engineering (JPSE), and Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries (JLPPI).