A lot needs to be done for oxygen plant’s revival

Team of experts including army conducts thorough inspection of PSM’s plant

Kashif Hussain April 27, 2021


A team of experts formed by the federal government visited the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) on Tuesday and conducted a thorough inspection of the oxygen plant for its rehabilitation over fears that hospitals across the country may run out of oxygen due to the worsening third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The inspection team comprising PSM Chairman Brigadier (retd) Shuja Hussain, Engineering Development Board General Manager KB Ali, Pakistan Oxygen Pvt Ltd Karachi Head of Operations Saad Alam and army officers conducted a detailed survey of the plant.

The PSM management gave a briefing to the inspection team about the oxygen plant.

The PSM chairman gave good news to the nation, saying that with the efforts of the government, the PSM “oxygen plant will soon be restored”.

Hussain said, “The machinery required to make the plant operational will be installed.”

He disclosed that Pakistan Army engineers will assist in the process.

Meanwhile, a group of PSM stakeholders has prepared a technical review report for the rehabilitation of the oxygen plant.

The group includes PSM dealers, suppliers and representatives of various trade unions and officers' organisations.
Group Convener Mamriz Khan told The Express Tribune that a rehabilitation plan has been prepared with the help of engineers after an in-depth review of the oxygen plant.

“Maintenance of the oxygen plant is difficult but not impossible.”

He said the government's focus on the rehabilitation of the plant justifies the group's position that the PSM is neither a white elephant nor a dysfunctional plant but a national asset of strategic importance that has been neglected, poorly planned, marred by corruption and run by an unprofessional board.

Report details

Highlighting the stakeholder group's technical inspection and maintenance roadmap, Mamriz said water, electricity, steam and seawater along with industrial water will be required to run the plant, adding that the supply lines of all these inputs will have to be restored.

“The plant requires 90,000 cubic meters of NM3 air per hour, 12,950 kWh of electricity per hour, 1,800kg steam per hour, 1,800 cubic meters per hour of seawater and 10 cubic meters per hour of industrial water.”

The challenges facing the oxygen plant’s maintenance include provision of seawater, fixing the dilapidated condition of pipelines and pumps, accuracy of heat exchangers for air and oxygen compressors, and the repair of cold boxes and liquid storage insulation.

Also, maintenance of cold boxes and liquid storage for hydrocarbons, and availability of batteries for cold boxes must be ensured.

“A cold box battery has been damaged by a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen. Cold Box A and Cold Box B must be inspected in detail, including both Cold Box A's hot and cold batteries and reversing exchangers.”

The report states that both air compressors of the oxygen plant and their five-megawatt motors must be overhauled.

“Both air compressors’ anti-surge system and intelligent automation system and hydrogen monitoring system must be thoroughly tested.”

It highlighted that three oxygen compressors attached to the plant and their motors are also in poor condition and need to be repaired.

The liquid oxygen pumps' backup system and the entire pipeline system must be restored, including their automation.
Similarly, nitrogen compressors, water pumps, cooling towers, oxygen and nitrogen filling cylinder systems connected to the plant must also be activated.


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