Abstract

The Frasch sulfur industry has taken on a new dimension with the development of mineable deposits in West Texas. The sulfur bearing formations in West Texas are generally limestone and similar to those on the Gulf Coast. The West Texas sulfur search is complicated by lost circulation zones and new drilling methods have been developed to cope with these zones. This paper describes the Frasch process and discusses the variables which affect costs and efficiencies. ARCO's Fort Stockton sulfur plant is described and its flow process plant is described and its flow process diagram is presented. The unusual viscosity-temperature relationship of sulfur and its significance in sulfur mining and storage is emphasized.

Introduction

Production of commercial sulfur from gypsum beds such as occur in the Delaware and other West Texas basins will have a significant impact on the sulfur industry. The occurrence of brimstone in gypsum beds throughout the world has been known for years. But it took the recent drilling and development in West Texas to indicate how important such reserves may be. A recent article, by these same authors, presented in the British publication, presented in the British publication, "The Journal of World Sulphur," relates to the Delaware Basin sulfur activity. Gypsum and anhydrite sequences here as well as in other parts of the world contain isolated areas in which elemental sulfur occurs in concentrations up to 50 weight percent. Economic recovery of the percent. Economic recovery of the elemental sulfur from gypsum and anhydrite members is the goal of Frasch mining operations in West Texas. The feasibility of mining these deposits could not be determined until it was shown that mine water could be contained in the ore body, that water supplies were adequate, and that the water could be treated and subsequently heated to the required temperatures economically.

That these requirements could be met was demonstrated by separate pilot operations initiated by Duval and Sinclair early in 1967 near Fort Stockton in Pecos County, Texas. Both operations were later expanded to commercial levels and Duval now also operates a large mine in Culberson County, Texas.

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