Saturday, 24 July 2010

Trafigura: Spent Caustic – Follow-Up

In an attempt to move forward in the debate on spent caustic I have emailed Trafigura asking for their comments.

My email which mirrors my post of earlier today is as follows:


Dear Sirs

When describing the Probo Koala's waste, Trafigura has described it as being relatively straightforward to dispose of.  For example, the Probo Koala factsheet you posted online 2 days ago contained the two following paragraphs:

“Gasoline washing is a common and legal process that reduces mercaptan levels in gasoline cargoes in order to meet specific contractual obligations.”


“Consequently the port [of Abidjan, Calum’s addition]  is highly experienced in dealing with slops from oil tankers and vessels and in 2006 more than 30,000 tonnes of slops were safely unloaded at Abidjan. Trafigura, as well as other major oil companies, have been operating in the Ivory Coast for decades.”

However, Trafigura emails from December 2005 through to April 2006 describe the waste as being difficult to dispose of and, therefore, as being far from routine.

How does Trafigura reconcile this difference?

I have posted today - - with a description of spent caustic in much more serious tones than used by Trafigura in its factsheet.

“Spent Caustics are the most difficult of all industrial wastes to dispose properly, with the exception of radionuclide wastes.  Since the dawn of petroleum refining, caustic solutions containing sodium hydroxide (common lye) have been used to wash sulfur and other undesirable compounds out of petroleum.  Its use has been in washing crude oils, intermediate fractions, and finished fuels throughout the refining processes.  The result of this washing is the generation of Spent Caustics, also called Waste Caustics and Toxic Wastes.”

“SPENT CAUSTICS are generated from many industrial processes.  Most are generated from the refining of petroleum to remove undesired SULFUR compounds from fuels.

In the refining industry, the net hydrogen sulfide captured in spent caustics is too low for effective sulfur recovery in typical Sulfur Recovery Units (SRU's) employing the common Claus Process, therefore, the spent caustics must be disposed properly.  In addition to the toxic hydrogen sulfide, both toxic mercaptans and phenolics are often captured in spent caustics, severely limiting the disposal options.”


How does Trafigura reconcile this difference?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely




Previous experience indicates that Trafigura will not reply but I continue to hope that the trend will change and a full response will be given.

Why should they be reluctant to answer?


  1. Glad to see you nare keeping on Trafigura's case. Don't give up!

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