USA Services is a privately and family-owned company that began as a one-truck operation nearly 30 years ago. Today, USA Services specializes in residual catalyst removal during FCCU shutdowns, and the handling and transportation of catalyst, chemicals, waste by-products and raw materials. The company is based in Adelanto, Calif., but it operates throughout the continental United States and Canada.
Catalyst handling specialists
USA Services specializes in residual catalyst removal during FCCU shutdowns. The company has been successful with this process due to the fact its vacuum equipment can handle FCC catalyst up to 1,000 F. The FCCU is a vital part of a refinery and every 15 minutes a unit is down an estimated $33,000 is lost. Therefore, USA Services knows it’s vital to get its equipment on site as soon as possible during an emergency situation so the customer can get back up and running. In the past five years, USA Services has performed more than 30 FCCU shutdowns and its mission is to shorten shutdowns by days, not hours. USA Services has been quite busy recently with its shutdown services, which have been eliminating headaches for customers throughout the industry.
“About a year ago, USA Services removed approximately 400 tons of catalyst out of our FCCU,” said John Patterson, FCC operations superintendent at the Valero Houston Refinery. “They removed the catalyst with no equipment problems, and the time they completed this service was definitely above average from what we’re typically used to. They removed the catalyst while it was hot and they removed a lot more than what we originally expected out of the unit. After they removed all catalyst out of the unit so we could start our work, we also had a hopper that was full (approximately 700 tons) we needed to empty.
“USA Services has done everything we’ve asked them to do and they did it in a very timely manner. I plan on using them again. The people who worked for us were experienced, knew exactly what they were doing and they took very little guidance from our side.”
USA Services comes to Houston
USA Services recently opened its fully operational hub in Houston to serve existing and new Gulf Coast customers. USA Services has a fleet of five trucks at this location that can perform catalyst vacuuming and pneumatic catalyst transportation. The company can also perform transportation, disposal and recycling of spent fines for its Gulf Coast customers.
“With our yard in Houston, we can perform all catalyst-related services and the everyday plant work,” said Collin Leslie, president of USA Services. “From bringing fresh catalyst in to taking the old catalyst away, we’re here to help with the logistical nightmares that can come with shutdowns and turnarounds. Anyone who needs help in the Gulf Coast with FCC catalyst we are more than happy to offer our services. We currently don’t have storage capabilities in the Gulf Coast because we are renting space, but we will have a permanent location probably in October.”
USA Services has hired Terry Tyler as its vice president of the Gulf Coast. Tyler will be responsible for managing and growing the company’s business throughout this region. He comes to USA Services with approximately 20 years of industry experience in managing field service entities.
USA Services also specializes in hazardous material transportation and nonhazardous material transportation. Its vacuum services collect and transport wet or dry hazardous and nonhazardous materials. Vacuum equipment such as stainless steel and aluminum, dry and liquid units are selected based on the nature and quantity of the material to be removed.
“We have the ability to vacuum FCCU catalyst while it’s hot that a refinery has blown over into its spent hopper,” Leslie said. “The catalyst may still maintain heat in the 400 F to 800 F range and this, in the past, has prevented the refinery from being able to unload catalyst into transport trucks until the catalyst has cooled, limiting the amount of catalyst that can be run through the unit to increase reactivity.
“Being able to vacuum the catalyst out of the hopper (while it’s hot) increases the volume of catalyst that can be run in the unit by eliminating the catalyst cooling period, increasing the unit’s productivity. In the past, the amount of catalyst that could be run through the FCCU was limited by spent hopper holding and cooling capacity. If the refinery’s silo only holds 400 to 700 tons, when you blow over the catalyst into the silo at 900 F to 1,200 F, the silo doesn’t have the ability to cool the catalyst down quickly enough where it can be offloaded into roll-off bins or transportation vessels to allow for an increase of catalyst in the FCCU. Our vacuum services solve this problem and make the unit more efficient by allowing the increase of catalyst.”
When performing vacuum services, USA Services uses technology similar to that of its shutdown services. “If, for example, a refinery could push another 10 tons through its regenerator each day, that would create more productivity and reactivity out of its FCC unit,” Leslie said.
USA Services’ vacuum services are provided on a routine or an emergency basis for general plant maintenance and planned projects as well as for emergency spills or product release situations. Vacuum services include:
• Liquids, solids or slurries.
• On-site transfer from silos, bins, super sacks, railcars or sealed vessels.
• Spill cleanup.
• Electrostatic precipitator efficiency/opacity maintenance.
• FCCU upsets.
• Wet gas scrubber maintenance.
• Wet catalyst handling.
• 1,000 F catalyst handling.
• Sump clean out.
Environmental services and recycling
USA Services has developed a full-spectrum reuse and recycling program addressing a wide variety of industrial by-products. Through the utilization of technical knowledge of several process industries, the company manages reuse and recycling programs like spent catalyst recycling, which are beneficial to refineries, power plants, waste water treatment plants, cement plants and other processes that use and generate by-products with chemical and mineral value. USA Services is constantly working with industry to find logical process uses for these kinds of materials.
A commitment to safety and training
Safety is the No. 1 priority at USA Services and the company’s management makes sure everyone is working in a safe environment. At USA Services, safety will always take precedence over production or deadlines. The company provides its employees with extensive training and qualifications through in-house, outsourced and industry standards programs that meet or exceed customer and government standards.
USA Services Inc. believes the key to its success is simple and can be summed up in just one word — service. When a customer calls, there’s always someone on the other line to talk to and there’s always someone on site. With the handling of catalysts especially at high temperatures, USA Services’ staff provides expertise and outlook that are much different than the older mentality.
“You get a service and a consultant with us at the same time,” Leslie said. “If you can solve a problem and relieve a headache, it means a lot to a customer.”
For more information, visit www.usaservicesinc.com or call (800) 843-1816.