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SENER increase its presence in Mexico  No.44 /Up-to-date


SENER increase its presence in Mexico  No.44 /Up-to-date

Power and Process

Views of SENER’s Castor project

Views of SENER’s Castor project

STRATEGIC NATURAL GAS STORAGE: Completion of construction and commissioning of the Castor project

In July of 2012, SENER completed construction and then commissioned the Castor project, a strategic natural gas (NG) storage plant in Vinaroz, Castellon (Spain), delivering the project on time. >From 2009 SENER worked in a turnkey consortium on the design, construction and commissioning of the project, which belongs to Escal UGS (a subsidiary of the Canadian multinational Eurogas) and the ACS group.

Castor can store gas from the national gas pipeline network in high-pressure periods (injection phase) and return it to the network when, due to an increase in demand or undersupply, network pressure is reduced (withdraw phase). It has a usable storage capacity of 1,300 Nm3, an injection capacity of 8 million Nm3/day and its withdraw capacity is 25 million Nm3/day. It is Spain’s largest offshore storage plant and has one of the largest onshore sweetening units in the world.

The project was delivered on time and on budget, and it also bears pointing out that the construction phase consisted of over 2,600,000 labor hours with an extremely low accident rate.

The Castor project’s design, construction and commissioning all adhered to the international quality standards typically followed in the industry, and was certified by Lloyds Register.

Project Chronology:

November 2006 to July 2008: SENER contributs to the conceptual and basic engineering and to the estimate for the investment costs.

March 2009: The EPC contract comes into effect and, as part of the construction consortium, SENER contributs to the building of the onshore plant and to the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of the rest of the project.

March 2010: Construction of the onshore operations plant begins.

October 2010: The WellHead Platform (WHP) is installed and starts the drilling campaign.

November 2011: The Process, Utilities and Quarters platform (PUQ) is installed.

July 2012: The commissioning works are completed, the injection tests are conducted, and the client signs the provisional acceptance certificate for the project.

POWER PLANT IN MEXICO: Cogeneration plant in Veracruz

A subsidiary of Alpek, S.A.B. de C.V. has awarded to a consortium led by SENER a turnkey contract for the construction of a cogeneration plant in Cosoleacaque, Veracruz (Mexico). The new facility will operate with two gas turbines, a pair of steam generators and a back pressure steam turbine that will boost Alpek’s competitiveness.

In addition to developing the site´s basic and detailed engineering, SENER will coordinate the project which is expected to conclude during the first quarter of 2014.

BIOMASS POWER PLANT IN MERIDA: EPC contract for the biomass power generation plant owned by ENCE

SENER has signed a contract with ENCE to supply a biomass power generation plant in Merida (Badajoz, Spain). The contract was signed as a turnkey contract, which includes the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the power plant, and additionally the operation and maintenance during its first two years of operation.

The new facility will consist of a plant for generating renewable power through the use of energy plantation trees. With 20 MW of net nominal power, it will be one of the largest renewable biomass power plants in Spain.

The plant will use biomass mainly from poplar and eucalyptus energy crops. It is a woody biomass that makes it necessary to install a boiler with an advanced design that can optimize the energy production.

SENER has designed a high-efficiency reheat and regenerative steam cycle for these type of plants. The boiler, therefore, will include a reheater and the turbine will have high-pressure and low-pressure bodies, including several bleeds. The condenser will be water-cooled. The generating efficiency of the plant is expected to be around 35%.

The supply of the plant presents two main challenges; on one hand, a very tight time schedule, since the plant shall be running during the third quarter of 2014; on the other hand, a very high availability, with an annual generation of about 160 GWh (net).

Thanks to its innovative design, which will combine high-efficiency and high-availability, the Merida biomass plant will be a benchmark for biomass power generation plants.

SENOT: Training simulator for operators in industrial processes

SENER has used its proprietary technology to develop an operator training system called SENOT that uses a simulator which is applied to known industrial processes.

The system was developed based on operational experience acquired in the Ecolube lubricating oil refinery in Fuenlabrada, and on the basic technical documentation available for its process and operations. This refinery was designed by SENER and is currently in operation, using a process patented by SENER.

SENOT combines the unique advantages simulators offer in their ability to train operators with the additional feature of being independent of the control system eventually installed in the plant.

In any industrial process, intensively and specifically acquiring skills in unusual or critical scenarios, from a safety perspective, improves both understanding of the process and the overall safety for operators at the plant. In addition, once the industrial facility has commenced operations, it makes it easier to update the simulator’s parameters. At the same time, this involves faithfully reproducing how the plant works, and with the updated data, improving the process and testing and validating the control strategies defined in the planning phase before it is implemented permanently. This is all accomplished independently of the control system suppliers, which set time frames and increase costs, and also make it more complicated to integrate the various control systems present in the plant.

SENOT’s objectives:

Reduce the risk of operational incidents.

Demonstrate the operators’ competence to the local authorities.

Reduce environmental impact.

Reduce the plant’s starting and stopping times.

Improve how the control system operates.

Make the operator training simulator independent of the supplied control system.

Main advantages of the proposed development:

Emulated operating consoles

Operators can be trained in conditions identical to those in a real control room. The operating graphics will simulate real control room consoles, even when these consoles are provided by the supplier of the control system. This shortens the execution time of the project, and the simulator can be delivered to the end client with enough time to train the operators before the plant enters into operation.

Unique features of the dynamic HYSYS software

Provide a rigorous, stable and solid simulation, while also ensuring that the model will be portable and easy to handle and that it will be properly maintained.


SENOT’s dynamic simulation and its instructor station may be maintained by the end customer when new processing units are added to the plant or when the existing units are modified. This ensures the product’s longevity.

SENOT combines a dynamic central model (based on HYSYS industrial simulation software, the top seller on the market), which incorporates all of the controllers, alarms and Emergency Shutdown Systems (ESDs) planned for the future industrial plant, by using operating consoles emulated with industrial software specifically programmed for simulating processes. Together, the two types of technology provide operators with an experience that is as close as possible to reality.

The dynamic model is generated in the standard HYSYS version (Aspen HYSYS version 7.1) and the system will operate on Windows on a portable device.

CSP PLANTS: New contracts to build solar thermal plants with SENERtrough® technology in South Africa and Morocco

SENER is part of the two consortiums that will be responsible for the construction works, commissioning and start up of two concentrated solar power plants to be built in Upington (South Africa) and Ouarzazate (Morocco).

In both projects the technology will consist of SENERtrough® parabolic troughs, a system developed and patented by SENER, and it will use a molten salt heat storage system, similar to a system SENER has applied in 14 solar thermal plants, half of which are already in commercial operation. These two projects are headed by the Saudi company Acwa Power and their magnitude represent a challenge for the EPC Consortium.


The Department of Energy of the Republic of South Africa has selected a project headed by Acwa Power as the preferred bidder to develop the Bokpoort thermosolar power plant. The group of companies that will participate in the contract will include a consortium as its EPC contractor (Engineering, Procurement and Construction), which will consist of SENER, Acciona, Crowie and TSK and will be responsible for the construction works, commissioning and start up of the power plant.

The Bokpoort CSP plant will be placed near the city of Upington, in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. The location of the plant in the vicinity of the Kalahari Desert will take advantage of the magnificent solar and environmental conditions of the remote area. The facility will have 50 MW of power. It will take 30 months to build and commission the plant.

Acwa Power, as the preferred bidder will be responsible for securing the project’s financing from private financial institutions upon receiving approval and a guarantee of the energy’s sale to the South African government at a fixed rate over 20 years, a process that is already in its latter stages, with no foreseeable impediments. Acwa Power has South African partners who can finance the project, including Solafrica and the government organization, IDC.


The Moroccan Agency for Solar ENergy (MASEN), an institution of the Moroccan Government, has also selected a project headed by Acwa Power as the preferred

bidder to develop the first stage of the Ouarzazate thermosolar complex. The group of companies that will participate in the contract will include a consortium 100 % Spanish as its EPC contractor, which will consist of SENER, Acciona and TSK, as responsibles for the construction works, commissioning and start up of the power plant.

The solar thermal complex will be located near the Ouarzazate village, at the gates of the Sahara desert and at the bottom of the Atlas, a place with excellent solar radiation. The installation will have 160 MW of power and, as in the Bokpoort project, it will use the SENERtrough® parabolic trough technology and a molten salt storage system. The solar collecting base technology at the plant will be 100 % Spanish.

The fact of being selected as preferred bidder gives the tendering consortium the right to negotiate the plant’s financing with MASEN and a group of international financial institutions led by the World Bank, This last institution will contribute with the main part of the capital as debt. Once again, Acwa Power will be responsible for securing the project’s financing upon receiving approval and a guarantee of the energy’s sale to the Moroccan government at a fixed rate over 25 years. After this process is finished, it will take 28 months to build and commission the plant.

In both cases, the experience of the companies which make up each EPC constructor consortium, both in solar thermal plants and electrical generation facilities on a general international level, ensures the project will be a success.

In the field of renewable energy, the SENER Group is the leader in the global thermosolar power market, in terms of both the technology it develops and the number of projects in its portfolio. To date, SENER has participated in 25 solar thermal power plants in Spain, the US and India, representing 1,500 MW of power either installed or in construction, and effectively saving 1,000,000 tons of CO2 from being dumped into the atmosphere every year.

MINAS DE RIOTINTO: Reopening of the copper mines

After several years of inactivity, EMED Tartessus is committed to re-starting the copper mines located at Minas de Riotinto (Huelva). Last year the company decided to entrust SENER with reviewing the condition of the equipment which are deteriorated due to more than 10 years of mining inactivity, so that EMED Tartessus will be able to evaluate the cost of re-starting mining operations.

The project consists of launching the existing facilities, which have been left without any type of maintenance for years, so that copper production can recommence. The plan is to initially start with five million tons per annum (Mtpa) and then increase production to nine Mtpa. SENER is acting as leading Spanish engineering firm, and for the time being is responsible for the plant’s processes and automation packages.

SENER’s team is currently focused on drafting the piping and Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (PIDs), and on producing the other basic information the client requires in order to start managing the financing for the rest of the project.

This project presents a challenge for SENER within a new business area, an interesting area for the engineering company in which several contracts have been obtained, specially in SENER in Mexico.

In performing this job, SENER has the support of SEI, a Brazilian engineering firm with extensive experience in the mining sector. The project, led by EMED Tartessus, will also include the participation of MERIT, which will act as the construction manager and will be in charge of preparing the investment costs, and of Tamoin Construcciones Mecánicas, which will be the main contractor onsite.


Views by night of SENER’s Castor projectComputer graphics of future’s cogeneration plant in VeracruzComputer graphics of future’s cogeneration plant in VeracruzThe following figure illustrates the concept of an operator training system based on emulation of operating consolesMain componentsSENERtrough® collector systemSENERtrough® collector systemMinas de Riotinto (Huelva, Spain)Minas de Riotinto (Huelva, Spain)Minas de Riotinto (Huelva, Spain)Minas de Riotinto (Huelva, Spain)Minas de Riotinto (Huelva, Spain)

Copyright SENER 2012