Putting the pieces together: Tulsa firm completing $78.5M contract for sulfur purification system in Iraq
By: Ray Tuttle – The Journal Record
TULSA – Placing equipment onto steel girders for assembly in the field is not new. A Tulsa company, however, is using the technology in a targeted approach to create business opportunities, both domestically and internationally.
“The contract was for a turnkey installation of a sulfur purification system including submerged combustion distillation, sulfur filtration, and sulfur recovery unit,” said Bevan Houston, Devco director of business development.
Scheduled to ship this month, the purification unit will have a production capacity of 500,000 metric tons per year. It will be possible to double that capacity. The project was done in coordination with CTI Consulting, a technology provider out of New Orleans, and Al Hawarth out of Amman, Jordan.
The purification unit, made up of 56 modules, is being manufactured by Insulation Specialists of Tulsa Inc., or ISTI, at its Port of Catoosa facilities. The initial phase of modules will be shipped from Tulsa to a site near Mosul, Iraq, and assembled. The Al-Mishraq Sulphur State Co., which will own and operate the facility, plans to retail the purified sulfur output in Iraq for domestic use. Sulfur is a key ingredient in fertilizer and is in demand within the agricultural sector.
Producing the modules in Tulsa allows for pre-assembly at the port.
“Being able to assemble them this way allows us to work out any bugs and cuts overall costs,” Doug Houston said.
The key to the modular construction is 3-D design, said Bevan Houston. Devco specializes in pairing a process with the plant, Doug Houston said.
“We often partner with technology providers,” he said. “We take their technology and wrap it into a plant, or taking something that started in one form, and provide a level of technology that changes the form.”
For example, the sulfur purification unit headed to Iraq includes a technology called submerged combustion distillation, Doug Houston said. The unit will take raw sulfur from a nearby mine and cook away the impurities to yield pure sulfur to be used in the production of fertilizer.
Using a similar business model in conjunction with ISTI, Devco moved into the shale natural gas plays in the U.S. Utilizing technology from Tulsa-based UOP Russell, Devco engineered and built facilities that recover natural gas liquid from produced gas. Last year, Devco and ISTI built three facilities. Two are operating in Texas and a third is in Louisiana.
At the same time, Devco is building plants overseas. Last year, Devco sent units to Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan.
“It is a great time, as people around the globe want U.S. technology and equipment, especially in the Middle East,” Doug Houston said. “People are telling us how their countries yearn for the U.S. to play a larger role in business, since the falloff following 9/11.
“Middle East companies are looking for the stability and quality that U.S.-based companies provide,” he said. “We continue to push the envelope for opportunities. With our track record and resume, 2014 will be extremely strong for us.”