China’s Environmental Consciousness

March 2, 2006
Due to an increasing need for oil, exploitation and an effective utilization of resources are on China’s political and environmental agenda, reports Dr. Christine Grötzbach.

In August 2004 the new Baiyun International Airport opened its doors replacing the old Baiyun from 1957. The state-of-the-art airport is posing a new threat to Hong Kong’s position as second-biggest Asian hub. Once the second phase of the airport is completed, which is expected around 2010, the new Baiyun will be able to handle 80 million passengers and 2.5 million tons of cargo a year. In the first construction phase the airport can accommodate 25 million passengers (Hong Kong passenger figures in 2003 were 27 million).

China Southern Airlines has its headquarters and main hub at Guangzhou and anticipates a significant growth. With a fleet of 230 major and medium-sized aircraft, the airline prides itself having the Chinese largest fleet, the most comprehensive Chinese destination network and the highest flight frequencies. Chinese Southern Airline is famous for its excellent service and received the “Five-Star Diamond Award” as well as an award by TTG Asia Magazine as the best Chinese airline. Forty additional aircraft are still going to be delivered by plane manufacturer Airbus.

According to manufacturer Boeing, China is expected to order 1,900 new planes worth $165 billion by 2022. This reflects China’s development as the world’s fastest growing aviation market. European airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa fly nonstop to Guangzhou. With a handled volume of currently 1.2 million tons of air freight, Guangzhou ranks third worldwide. A throughput capacity of 2.5 million tons is to be provided in the second phase.

Guangzhou is the capital of the province Guangdong in the Pearl River delta and contributes one-third of the Chinese export products. In front of that attractive economic background, the international courier company FedEx is considering the relocation of its regional hub from the Philippines to Guangzhou. This is good news for the jet fuel supplier Bluesky who is both monopolist in Guangzhou and at 14 airports in Central and Southern China and owner of the fuel infrastructure facilities. Major shareholder of Bluesky is China Aviation Oil Supply Corporation (CAOSC) with 51 percent. Oil company BP and Fortune Oil PLC of the UK each hold a 24.5 percent stake.

Limited Resources Require Consistent Monitoring

According to experts, the need for oil will increase to 450 million tons per year by 2020. That’s why the exploitation and an effective utilization of resources are on China’s political agenda of crucial points. The tightness of the pipelines and a preventative leak detection are focus of the energy suppliers.

As with the magnetic levitation railway in Shanghai—developed by Thyssen-Krupp and Siemens—innovative German technology features appear in Guangzhou. Hansaconsult, the Hamburg-based engineer and consulting center for safe fuel supply, and Bluesky as environmentally committed local fuel supplier jointly started operation of TCS Tightness Control System. TCS checks the tightness of each of the 17 sections of the kilometer-long hydrant system in less than 45 minutes, night after night, fully-automated and without additional staff. The system is integrated in the modern process control and visualization system (SCADA). The test cycle is being kicked off with only one mouse-click.

The Tightness Control System works according to the world-wide patented pressure-step-procedure and detects a leak with an incredible sensitivity of 0.001 percent section volume per hour. Bluesky keeps on the safe side and relies on the latest technology which has been acknowledged by worldwide leading institutions such as the Institute of Petroleum (IP), the American Institute of Petroleum (API) or TÜV.

Thorough Checks to Ensure a Reliable System

The acceptance procedure, standard with any TCS installation, confirmed the outstanding performance of the system in Guangzhou. Each section was individually examined. The focus of each test series is a prepared valve integrated in the pipeline system at the opening for air, for water or at the sampling point. It has a defined opening visible to the human eye only in back light, letting through a weak glimmer. The pipeline is pressurized over a defined period, and the quantity of the leaking fuel is determined. The accuracy is measured by the relation of the calculated and the determined leakage rate and referred to the section volume. The obtained data in tests without an artificially-created leakage allow a conclusion to be drawn about loose valves, air or water in the pipeline system.

The test results confirmed the decision of Bluesky management level for a control system that reliably detects hair-fine tears and minimal leakages. An excellent cooperation between the Bluesky team and the experts of hansaconsult marked the nocturnal start-up. Dr. Klaus Peters and Jürgen Grötzbach of hansaconsult appreciated the Chinese mentality and orientation toward Health-Safety-Environment (HSE) principles for excellent comprehensive measures for accident prevention and careful handling of natural resources.

Mobile Flexibility for Smaller Pipeline Systems

Baiyun represents a perfect connection of the latest technology and a consequent environment protection. However, Chinese airports with less ambitious technical automation are interested in the mobile version of TCS, which checks tightness of single sections with the same sensitivity and accuracy.