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Delayed Coker Fundamentals, Coker Operations and Reliability

This two-day course will cover an introduction to the process, equipment, and operation of a delayed coker unit (DCU) in the refinery.

The coker is unique in the refinery world with a batch process and specialized solids removal (decoking) and handling equipment. All the unique aspects of the DCU will be covered with an in-depth review of the coker structure (coker island) operation and equipment.  Special focus will be given to operator-based perspectives on unit equipment and usage. Common safety and reliability concerns will be discussed at length.

Who Should Attend

Refinery staff new (less than 1 year) to delayed coking. This includes: operators, engineers, inspectors, or maintenance staff. Vendor staff who supply services or equipment to delayed coker units.  Project staff working on design projects.

What You Will Learn

  • Learn the history of this process, the second oldest in the history of refining.
  • Explore the process flow and semibatch sequence.

Introduction to the specific design and operation of specialized DCU equipment:

  • Steam purged valves
  • Decoking equipment
  • Heater fouling and decoking
  • Fractionator (distillation) dynamics with batch operation
  • Blowdown system

A special focus on real experiences in safety and reliability: Operator ownership of safety

  • Common reliability issues with DCU equipment
  • A review of major safety incidents over the past 20 years.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with delayed cokers.
Course fee: $1795

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About Your Instructor

Evan Hyde is the Director of Field Operations for Coking.com Inc. Formerly he was president of Telaxe, a coker consulting firm. He previously was president of C2 Nano Technology where they researched surface treatments to combat fouling and corrosion issues in cokers and other petrochemical process units. He was a Senior Engineering Advisor for Becht Engineering Co., Inc. New Jersey. He has consulted on processing improvement and reliability initiatives for delayed coking clients around the world. He also participated in onsite peer assessments of Coker Units at eight refineries which included improvements in maintenance work practices, process enhancements, and turnaround scope optimization. Prior to joining Becht, Evan worked for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, as a process engineer, with assignments in research, and troubleshooting for heavy oil upgrading equipment. He holds a B.S. of Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Coker Process, Design, and Troubleshooting

This two-day course delves deeper into the delayed coker from a process, design, and troubleshooting perspective.

Because the participants are anticipated to have some experience working in a plant, the focus will be on exploring the nuances of various design choices from a process or equipment perspective. The course will explore the pros and cons of a variety of solutions to common problems. Similarly, the troubleshooting will review typical scenarios and solutions that are encountered by operating DCUs.

What You Will Learn

  • Common design considerations and comparison of various technology platforms
  • Equipment failure modes and common reliability issues
  • Process control strategies for optimization
  • Heater fouling mechanisms and mitigation strategies
  • Cracking reactions and feed property considerations
  • Coke morphology causes and effects
  • Review of major safety incidents over the past 20 years

The curriculum will be interactive based on group exercises and questions or concerns posed by the participants. Come prepared to get some options to consider for your plant. All of the experiences are based on real world examples from plants around the world with varying configurations or equipment types.

Who Should Attend

Refinery staff experienced (1+ years) in delayed coking. This includes operators, engineers, inspectors, or maintenance staff. Experienced chemical or mechanical engineers who are assigned to support a DCU.

Experienced operators who want to learn more about the details of the equipment design and improve their troubleshooting skills.

Vendor staff who want to understand how their equipment and possibility their competitor’s equipment is designed and utilized in the field. Project staff working on design projects. Learn more about common issues and develop solutions for your clients before the equipment is operated.

Prerequisites: Recommended for those with previous experience in design, process, operations or maintenance of delayed cokers.

Course fee: $1795 

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About Your Instructor

Mitch Moloney graduated from Princeton University in 1979 summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and is a registered PE in Texas. He worked with ExxonMobil as a Heavy Oil Upgrading Specialist for 30 of his 40 years with the company. Mitch lead their worldwide Best Practices Network, developing over 200 Best Practice approaches to Delayed Coking. He was the lead development, design, engineering & start-up engineer for the Cerro Negro Upgrader Project in Venezuela, which featured a 50 kBD DCU. He also was the coker technology and coker start-up lead for the Antwerp Heavy Oil Conversion Project, which also featured a 50 kBD DCU. He now works as a worldwide Delayed Coking and Process Engineering consultant for companies in the oil refining industry. Mitch has a wife and two children and resides in Houston TX.

Mechanical Integrity and Reliability of Coke Drums



  • Design primer
  • Uniqueness of coke drums
  • Common failure modes
  • Relevant industry documents
  • Introduction to FEA

Skirt Failures:

  • Skirt cracking and buckling 
  • Assessment of cracked and distorted skirts
  • Skirt bolt failures
  • Skirt repairs and retrofitting
  • Unconventional skirts

Shell Failures:

  • Tilting
  • Cracking
  • Bulging
  • Types of bulges
  • Bulging assessment
  • Bulge repairs
  • Unconventional shells

Action plan:

  • Drum life
  • Inspection and monitoring
  • Actions and strategies

Recommended for those with previous experience in design, process, operations or maintenance of delayed cokers.  This class is for operating company personnel only. Anyone else would need instructor’s permission to attend.

Course fee:  $1795

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About Your Instructor

Dr. Mahmod Samman is the president of Houston Engineering Solutions. He has thirty years of industry experience mostly in damage assessment, repair, and life extension of coke drums. His state-of-the-art techniques in this field are utilized around the world. A licensed professional engineer in Texas, he has a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Duke University, numerous publications, and six issued patents. He is a member of ASME and ASCE and a committee member of API 579/ASME FFS, API 934G and API 934J.

Sulfur Recovery Fundamentals, Operations and Reliability

This two-day course will cover an introduction to the sulfur recovery unit process and chemistry, equipment and operation, including real life operating problems. Other pertinent topics include oxygen enrichment, tail gas clean up technologies, sulfur degassing and incineration.

The sulfur recovery unit (SRU) is arguably the most important unit in a refinery or gas plant due to legislations for producers to make clean fuels. The unique characteristics of sulfur and its necessary removal will be covered with an in-depth view of the SRU operation and equipment. Special focus will be given to real life operating problems and troubleshooting. Related topics of oxygen enrichment, tail gas clean up, degassing and incineration will also be discussed.

Who should attend:

New and experienced refinery and gas plant staff including operators, maintenance staff and engineers who want to learn and optimize the reliability of their facilities.;

What will you learn:

  • Claus Process Overview
  • Equipment Design and key features
  • SRU Operating Problems
  • Oxygen Enrichment
  • Tail Gas Clean Up technologies
  • Tail Gas Clean Up Operating Problems
  • Incineration
  • Sulfur Degassing and handling

Course fee:

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About Your Instructor

Elmo Nasato is a process engineer specializing in sulfur recovery, amine treating and sour water processing. He has over 35 years experience in the sulfur recovery industry including experience with design, retrofit, start-up and optimization of sulfur recovery units, sulfur handling units, amine units, sour water stripper units, and tail gas cleanup units. On-site field activities have included support of construction activities, turnaround assistance and Operator training. Elmo graduated from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada with a B.A.Sc. Chemical Engineering (1987) with an option in Management Science. He currently is the president of Nasato Consulting Ltd. In addition, he serves on the Brimstone Sulfur Recovery Symposium Advisory Committee, the Technical Advisory Committee for the Laurance Reid Gas Conditioning Conference, the Technical Advisory Committee for Alberta Sulphur Research Limited (ASRL) and serves on the Board of Directors for ASRL. Elmo has also taught courses in the Chemical Engineering departments of the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo. He has been awarded eight patents for SRU operation, oxygen enrichment and sulfur degassing technologies, has published 42 papers and has made over 75 presentations at conferences worldwide.