Posted on October 21, 2020
Plexa S.A. E.S.P. is a parent company with more than 45 years of experience in the distribution, logistics, transport, and storage of fuel gases, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), in the Colombian market. With the growth of LPG demand in Colombia, Plexa through its affiliate Plexaport S.A, completed the construction of a new maritime terminal in May 2020, in the Mamonal industrial zone in Cartagena. It is estimated that half of the fuel demand for the entire Colombian national market can be imported and be supplied through this new terminal.
The challenge of protecting 12 LPG tanks
The project consists of a dock, a 1,200-meter-long connecting pipeline, a deluge fire protection system, and a terminal. The maritime terminal has a total storage capacity of 25,000 LPG barrels in 12 tanks and the capacity to dispatch 12,000 barrels per day, which is equivalent to half of the national LPG demand. The project engineers at Plexaport had the challenge of identifying and specifying the best method to protect and cool the 12 LPG storage tanks, with a combined volume of 1,080,000 gallons. The Plexaport team worked with the team at Sistemas en Proteccion Contra Incendios (SPCI), a company specialized in the design and installation of fire protection systems with a history of using innovative solutions. Together, it was determined that a deluge fire protection system using open nozzles and composed of dependable high-quality components is the best choice for the protection of these LPG storage tanks in the project due to the nature of the hazard. During the bidding process for the installation of the fire protection system, it was decided to use Victaulic solutions in the designs provided by Plexaport.
Installing a reliable deluge system
The deluge system installed on this project is composed of 2” and 6” galvanized carbon steel grooved pipe joined with Victaulic Style 009N FireLock EZ rigid couplings, FireLock grooved fittings, and grooved valves instead of welding or using flanges, due to their safety, reliability, and installation efficiency. Additionally, each LPG tank is being protected by a Victaulic Series 769N FireLock NXT™ Vic-Quick Riser deluge valve with an electric release trim. The electric solenoid of the activation trim for each valve was connected to the project’s fire and spark detection system to ensure valve activation when a fire is detected. Two-inch deluge valves were also used to protect a pump and compressor room for the LPG system. All deluge valves were ordered with the Vic-Quick Riser configuration, which are pre-trimmed valves that are pre-assembled with a shutoff valve, alarm switch, and drains that allow for a quick and simplified installation in the field.
When the detection system receives a signal during a fire event, it activates an electric solenoid, releasing water to a total of 1,104 Victaulic Style V12 open spray nozzles, which are responsible for distributing water with a discharge pattern that covers the entire surface of the tanks. The open spray nozzle discharge pattern is specifically designed to absorb heat from the outside of the tanks that may generate an ignition source and prevent an explosion of one of the tanks. The coverage efficiency of the deluge system was tested prior to the completion of the project, with all valves activating successfully.
A tested and reliable system that is ready to protect
The deluge system successfully passed the pressure and operation tests and is currently protecting the terminal, which began operating on August 26, 2019, and received the first vessel with a load of LPG for distribution in Colombia. This achievement demonstrates the importance of good synergy between the owner of the project, the contractor, and the manufacturer of the products installed on the site. This relationship allowed for excellent communication and coordination to ensure that the products were delivered on time, helping the Plexaport and SPCI teams to carry out the installation of this project on time and successfully.
This new terminal will allow Plexaport to receive up to 4 ships per month for the purpose of supplying fuel to a variety of domestic markets including transportation and power generation. This project will ensure that Colombia is ready for an increasing LPG demand as a relatively clean combustible fuel alternative to gasoline and natural gas.