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Safe port of call: Shell’s Transit Safety Port facility

04 June 2013

The creation of Shell’s Transit Safety Port for ethylene oxide shipped from the Netherlands to customers in Italy has removed exposure to a potential transport safety issue. The TSP provides a safe and secure stop-off point for product, where professional emergency response is available, until it can continue its onward delivery and unloading at the final customer destination.

The north of Italy is home to a large ethoxylation industry, including a number of Shell ethylene oxide (EO) users. With no local producers, all of the EO this industry relies on has to be moved to the region from other parts of Europe. For Shell customers this involves a delivery journey from the Netherlands using both rail and road transport.

The distances involved, complexity of intermodal transport scheduling and seasonal regulatory restrictions, plus the fact that customers typically have limited storage for EO, have in the past created challenges for timing the arrival of deliveries at customer premises.

The EO is shipped in intermodal ISO tank containers that travel by train from the Shell manufacturing site at Moerdijk to a rail terminal near Milan in the north of Italy. The ISO tank containers are then transferred onto trucks for the final stage of the delivery, which is handled by Shell’s dedicated EO transport provider, De Rijke.

“Although we are able to schedule the EO deliveries quite precisely despite the long distance, fluctuating demand for product and strict limits over storage of hazardous product in Italy mean the customer is not always in a position to unload when it arrives,” explains Ettore Mastromatteo, Senior Sales Manager EO/Glycols in Europe.

“Regulations in Italy strictly limit the volume of products such as EO that can be left in loaded ISO tank containers within the customer’s premises. As a result, scheduled deliveries could turn up on the correct day and still have to be turned away because there was product from a previous delivery already stored on the site,” he explains. In such cases the business either had to find an alternative user to take the product or return it to De Rijke’s depot until the original customer was in a position to unload.

“Although there are no restrictions on parking an EO road tanker within a transport depot, or even by the side of the road, this is not acceptable to us from a product stewardship perspective,” explains Riccardo Magliocchi, Shell Chemicals HSSE (health, safety, security and environment) Specialist.

“This has been a persistent issue for all EO suppliers in Italy and we felt it was time to resolve it by finding a more sustainable supply chain solution,” he says.

The transit safety port can house up to ten tank containers and is equipped with emission sensors and a sprinkler system for product cooling or spill dilution
The transit safety port can house up to ten tank containers and is equipped with emission sensors and a sprinkler system for product cooling or spill dilution

The EO/Glycols, HSSE and Land Logistics teams worked with De Rijke and a local glycols customer, GICAR, to develop plans for a more permanent storage solution. GICAR had spare land close to the rail terminal in northern Italy which offered a suitable site for a Transit Safety Port (TSP), where the EO could be held under controlled conditions until customers are ready to receive it.

“GICAR is looking to diversify its chemical services offering and this site is ideally positioned between the rail terminal and our customer locations,” says Mastromatteo. “The company agreed to construct a TSP and lease half of its capacity to De Rijke on behalf of Shell.”

The site is away from built up areas and has been designed according to Shell’s HSSE requirements. Shell HSSE experts also audited and approved the location and delivery routes before construction began.

The TSP, which opened towards the end of 2010, is a permanently manned open warehouse with hard standing for up to ten trailers. “The opening of this facility ensures that hazardous products are not parked close to built up areas or alongside public roads, but are kept under cover in a safe and secure area where professional emergency response is available,” says Peter Roest, Land Logistics Technical Advisor.

The site is equipped with vapour monitoring sensors, an automatic sprinkler system for cooling the ISO tank containers in the case of high temperatures or for dilution of product in the event of a minor spill, and a water recovery system. Its tank reservoirs hold up to 750,000 litres of water, sufficient for 15 hours of continuous flushing.

“The purpose of the TSP is primarily to improve the safety of our supply chain, not to provide buffer capacity,” explains Mastromatteo. “But we do have the option to hold some stock there in exceptional circumstances and, as the delivery times from the TSP to customer locations is now no more than one hour, we can be more responsive to their day-to-day needs.”

Ettore Mastromatteo, EO/Glycols Senior Sales Manager Europe: “The TSP improves the safety of our supply chain and enables us to be more responsive to customer needs.”
Ettore Mastromatteo, EO/Glycols Senior Sales Manager Europe: “The TSP improves the safety of our supply chain and enables us to be more responsive to customer needs.”

Shell has leased half of the TSP’s capacity but has flexibility to increase this allocation if required. “We are currently the only producer with formal permission to store EO in Italy in this way, but would hope that other producers will follow our example,” he says.

“Implementing improvements to our EO product stewardship like this further demonstrates our responsibility for managing a safe supply chain.”

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This article was published in the Spring/Summer 2011 edition of Shell Chemicals Magazine and has been reproduced with permission from Shell.

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