Keeping customer’s plant running during Pakistan flood

Linde Pakistan operates a nitrogen generator at an ECOVAR customer’s site in Qasba Gujrat in the central Punjab region of Pakistan. The key customer, PARCO, operates the Mid-Country Oil Refinery, the country’s newest, largest and most complex refinery. The plant’s output makes up nearly 35 per cent of Pakistan’s refining capacity.

Due to the critical nature of the refinery’s operations and the need for reliability, Linde Pakistan has, since 2000, been PARCO’s chosen gas supplier. Nitrogen gas is supplied to the generator via road tankers arriving from Linde’s sites in Lahore and Port Qasim covering a distance of 300 and 600 miles respectively.

The widespread flooding that devastated a third of Pakistan in August 2010 destroyed several roads leading to the location of the refinery, making access difficult. The PARCO refinery was forced to shut-down completely, but still needed a continuous supply of nitrogen. The Qasba Gujrat nitrogen generator, located adjacent to the refinery, was surrounded on three sides by flowing flood waters ranging two to 10 feet deep.

A partial evacuation of Linde employees operating the plant was necessary. Back-up food and other rations were stocked up for the staff who stayed behind to keep the generator running.

Because the floods had washed away the roads leading to the site, tanker delivery was not only extremely difficult but dangerous. By the weekend of August 14–15, stock levels at the nitrogen plant had reached a critical level.

To ensure uninterrupted nitrogen supply to the site, the Distribution team continued to make the hazardous journey from Lahore. The 72-hour journey included attempts to use alternative routes under challenging and dangerous conditions. Eventually, the tankers reached the site safely, but only just – the plant had merely an hour’s supply of gas remaining. Since then, the situation has improved, and tankers have been travelling between Lahore and Qasba Gujrat to build up stocks.

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