2021 ERTC Conference Newspaper - Day 1

Day 1

15 - 18 November 2021 Madrid, Spain

Official newspaper published by PTQ / Digital Refining

AGENDA Building blocks to zero emissions


Getting European refining Fit for 55



Welcome to the 2021 ERTC and to the city of Madrid. Reviewing the agenda over the next two days, it is clear that European refiners together with the technology com- panies supporting


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Co-hosted by:



Decarbonising refining: key insights from Pernis refinery Sulphur spiking agents for hydroprocessing units activation Renewing the fight against phosphorus From refining to chemicals, a switch of the yield in four stages Female faces of the refinery boardroom Energy efficiency: project optimisation through proven tools and practices Environmental impact of the precious metal value chain on refineries





ERTC 2021 Agenda these refiners are playing a leading role in the energy transition. I recall a recent blog from the IMF on “Reaching Net Zero Emissions”, in which they describe three strategic building blocks: carbon pricing, a green investment plan and measures for a “just transition”. The EU Emissions Trading System, or ETS, is the world’s pre-eminent carbon pricing mechanism. It is an example of a progressive regulation that was intro- duced in phases, including a “learning by doing” process, which gave time for indus- try to adapt. Even then, the ETS has had a painful impact on margins for refineries operating in the EU and the issue of “car- bon leakage” remains. The inclusion of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism planned for 2024 should go some way to level the competitive playing field. The ETS, together with the EU New Green Deal strategy, and supported by exist- ing (Fuels Quality Directive, Renewable Energy Directive II) and developing regu- lations such as the FuelEU Maritime and the RefuelEU Aviation Directives, are clear signals driving the evolution of the EU refining industry. The papers in this year’s ERTC show pro- gress with “green investments”. EU refin- ers are leading the diversification away from crude oil refineries reliant on a con-





2030 NZE

2040 NZE

2050 NZE


Energy eciency

Other end use

Fossil fuels


Electricity networks & storage



An upfront investment: the transition to a green system will require a higher level of investment over the next 20 years but should come back down thereafter (investment as a percent of GDP, annual average per decade) Source: IEA


and international aspects of the just tran- sition. They highlight that many domestic households, already struggling to afford basic necessities, need help to pay for higher energy costs. Internationally, the need is for financial support for develop- ing economies, particularly where invest- ment in basic infrastructure is required. In their energy transition plan, the EU includes “concrete measures to alleviate energy poverty”. A just transition requires that affordable energy is available for all, but also takes into account the impact energy supply and use has on the climate. During the transition, carbon pricing to level the cost of fossil fuels with that of the renewable substi- tutes, along with investments in renewable energy infrastructure, means that energy costs will rise. This is exasperated by the calls to leave fossil fuels in the ground, leading to a reduced investment in fossil fuels. We are not yet at the point where this is feasible without supply disruptions lead- ing to energy crises. 2021 has seen coal shortages in India and China and gas and fuel shortages in the west. As the transi- tion progresses, the gap between energy demand and available renewable energy supply must be balanced with (diminishing amounts of) fossil fuels. Ultimately, the goal of the energy tran- sition, to wean the world off its reliance on crude oil, is only possible once the supplies of renewable energy are suffi- cient to be resilient against both troughs in supply and peaks in demand. The tran- sition to an affordable, renewable-based energy system needs to be managed and progressive.

tinuous supply of well-defined “fossil” feedstocks to energy hubs processing a diverse array of hydrocarbon feeds such as sustainable biofuel components, plastic and food waste. In this transformation, the European oil refining industry is uniquely placed with the skills and capabilities required to turn these diverse feedstocks into renewable liquid fuels that meet the specifications and consistency required for road, air and marine transport. A progressive energy transition will give companies and investors the time needed for renewable energy supplies to reach a scale sufficient to substitute the fossil equivalent. IMF describe an investment hump of approximately $6-10 trillion glob- ally over the decade to 2030. The third building block is the “just transi- tion”. The IMF blog mentions both domestic



Catalytic benefits of mesoporised zeolites


Sustainable process recovers ultra high-purity styrene from waste polystyrene 19 Refiners weigh opportunities for circular asset decarbonisation polymer production 21



Precious metals catalyst management: measuring quality of service







Shell Catalysts & Technologies

2 3 4 7


Arkema Sabin








Johnson Matthey Reactor Resources


Delayed action, anticipated, 2030

Delayed action, unanticipated, 2030

11 12 13 15 16 18 20 24

Partial participation

Aggregate policy package


Haldor Topsoe

Zeopore Sulzer Albemarle

Dangers of delay: delaying action on carbon pricing would result in higher carbon prices, making a 2050 net-zero emissions goal more difficult to reach (giatons of CO 2 ) Source: IMF




ERTC 2021


Global economic challenges have prompted a dramatic fall in product demand and skewed product slates. Recovery will probably be prolonged, and the repercussions will be long-lasting. At Shell Catalysts & Technologies our solutions enable you to make smart investments while preserving cash through revamping, reconfiguring or optimising existing assets. Our experts can help you enhance margins by co-creating tailored solutions for current units – ensuring any investments made today can help you maintain your competitive advantage. Learn more at catalysts.shell.com/revamps


ERTC 2021 Covid-19 provides a warning to refiners tha adaption is key to thrive in the energy tran

Getting European refining Fit for 55

ALAN GELDER Wood mackenzie

ALAN GELDER Downstream Global SME, Wood mackenzie

European refining has recovered from the doldrums of last year’s pandemic. Despite demand still being 500 kbd less than 2019 levels, European refinery utilisation is within touching distance of the historical five-year average. A com- bination of capacity rationalisation, high export flows to West Africa and the United States have provided support, particu- larly for gasoline-oriented configurations. As mobility restric- tions ease further, 2022 European refinery gross margins are expected to strengthen. The energy transition is all about supply- ing the w rld’s grow- ing needs for energy and mobility in a more sustainable way. This take many forms, but for the oil valu

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 90% 80% 100% 70% Base case Fit for 55 What marks the winn rs over the com- ing year? Any new refineries will need to be large coastal sites that are heavily inte- grated with petrochemicals to ensure they are highly competitive. We can evidence this already, as our preliminary nalysis of the existing European refining land- scape highlights the competitive strength of integrated refinery/petrochemical sites for 2019. the energy transition will likely deliver the same results. Europe’s refiners need to adapt to declining local demand, and a shifting social and political landscape. Business responses must extend beyond the tradi- tional levers of selective investment and cost control to also reduce carbon inten- sity in both operations and their supply of liquid fuels. The core competences of operating integrated refinery /petrochem- ical sites can be leveraged to become a central hub in a ‘low-emissions energy complex’ that brings together carbon capture and storage, chemical recycling, LNG, and renewables to the production of liquid fuels and petrochemicals. In a world aspiring to restrict the global temperature rise to less than 2°C, the disruption to the global refining indus- try could be even more severe. Wood Mackenzie’s accelerated energy transi- tion suggests far greater penetration of battery technology and hydrogen into the vehicle fleet. In such a scenario, localisa- tion becomes a key theme – refiners work- ing closely with the local community and their government to retain a social licence to adapt their business. Cost reduction, competitive position improvement, and understanding the refinery’s carbon life cycle are obvious ‘no regret’ moves. Beyond that, no one size fits all, so strategic reviews will be essen- tial to establish a road map for the future. The basis of the road map is the decision tree opposite. Refining is, after all, a conversion indus- try – one that must transition away from carbon-intensive feedstocks such as crude oil and into products and services that the consumer still values. ■


5 year range





BEV sales would need to account for half of all new car sales in the EU by 2030, compared to a third in our current base case outlook 85% 80%

Fit for 55 signals further downside for European oil demand In our recent outlook to 2050, European demand peaks in 2022 before it starts an inexorable decline of 150 kbd per year to 2030. European refiners become increasingly reliant on export markets. This is particularly the case in north-west Europe, as demand is projected to fall fastest there because of electrification in transport. The EU’s Fit for 55 proposals require materially faster EVadoption than this out- look post-2030, with all the EU’s new passenger car sales required to be battery electric by 2035. The proposals, if adopted, would increase the rate of European v hicles or green/blu hydrog n via fuel cell in heavy-dut commercial t ucking. Liquid renewables – biofuels – are via- ble alternatives, particularly given the reduced need for investment in distrib - tion infrastructur . chain, it is largely about the penetration of cleaner energy from renewables. The main carrier echanisms are electric- ity, livered by either battery in elect ic





Jan Feb Mar


May Jun Jul


Figure 1 BEV sales in EU required to meet Fit for 55 target

OECD Europe refinery utilisation Source: History IEA MODS, Forecast Wood Mackenzie

oil demand decline. Despite the continued need to sup- ply demand for the dwindling stock of ICE passenger cars, commercial vehicles, the marine and aviation sec- tors, the EU’s proposals require refiners to re-think their business models. Carbon pricing and renewables create risks and opportunity Carbon pricing remains central to the EU’s plans to decarbonise, with free allowances being phased out and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) potentially extended to other transport sectors. The cost of carbon is already a major drag on European refinery earnings. EU ETS prices are now in the range of €50–60 per ton, which is 10 times higher than the lows of 2016. Despite free allowances, the cost of carbon emis- sions can range from US$0.5 to 1.0/bbl of crude pro- cessed, which can largely eradicate the free cash flow of less competitive assets. Carbon costs appear to be a one-way bet under the latest proposals. Refining will not, at least initially, be protected by a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), so the high costs of carbon emissions will disadvantage European play- ers relative to their international competitors. It does, however, provide a strong incentive to decarbonise existing operations. The Fit for 55 package also proposes to raise the share of renewables in Europe’s transport sector to achieve a 13% carbon emissions reduction by 2030. The main change versus the existing renewable fuels legislation is an emphasis on the growing use of renew- able fuels of non-biological origin, which creates oppor- tunities for refiners to diversify their businesses to the provision of low carbon fuels. Refiners will need to adapt to survive Adaption is key, as the outlook for petrochemicals remains robust and refiners can re-tool to play a pivotal role in the circular economy, through chemical recycling of petrochemical wastes, liquid biofuels (for petrochemi- cals, sustainable aviation fuel and stationary uses) along with efuels (synthetic fuels produced from combining green hydrogen and captured CO 2 ). These factors play to the strengths of large, coastal highly competitive inte- grated refining and petrochemical sites. It is critical for refiners to clearly understand their cur- rent competitive position and what they need to do to secure a future top quartile position to ensure longev- ity and free cash flow from their core business so they can invest to adapt for the future. Such sites also need to secure the offtake of their liquid products in hard- to-decarbonise sectors whilst they make progress on decarbonising both their operations and their products. As James Cameron in his search for the Titanic said “Hope is not a strategy” so doing nothing is not an option. Prepare to be “Fit for 55” and the potential upside to regional oil demand if it arrives late.

n ed TO ADAPT The sheer scale of global oil demand, its ssoci ed ecosystem, and the typical long life of vehicles and industrial equip- ment result in a slow rate of change. The energy transition could potentially take decades to achieve. For refining in Europe, the consequence of the energy transition is that the industry needs to adapt. As local demand for refined prod- ucts is set to fall, the global market for xpo ts remains highly competitive, mak- ing refiners relatively sanguine given the long timescales involved. Covid-19 was a glimpse into the poten- tial future, given the recent collapse i demand for transport fuels, as national, ate, and l cal governments restricted mobility to slow the spread of the pan- demic. These restrictions have returned to some degree to slow the spread of the pandemic. European refinery uti- lisa ion fell b low 70% in Q2 2020 and has r overed slowly due to the over- hang of product stocks. By year end, we expect refinery utilisation to still be 10 percentage points down on the five-year average. Earlier this year, TOTAL’s chief execu- tive Patrick Pouyanne said refining mar- gins at such low utilisation levels are “utt rly catastrophic”. Our preliminary analysis indicates that over two-thirds of European refineries will be loss mak- ing this year. For those refiners, this is a stark message that if they fail to adapt,


carelflex ® drives innovation Arkema’s Carelflex ® service introduces our new patent-pending in-line H 2 S Analyzer for use with DMDS Evolution ® E2 H 2 S Analyzer designed for maximum: SAFETY – Fully enclosed RANGE – 0.03 - 5% H 2 S








Integrated Renery only

2019 Prelim NCM (Renery o


Preliminary 2019 European net cash margin integrated vs r Source: Wood Mackenzie REM Chemicals

Become rst quartile integrated renery/ petrochemical site

ACCURACY – No on-site calibration RESPONSE – Reading every 2 seconds

Circularity is key to any transformation plan


Existing assets and operation

Energy transition, carbon reduction & circularity (with regulatory support)


“Run for positive cash ow”

Indicative downstream decision tree

Contact: alan.gelder@woodmac.com


15-17 June 2021


Visit o worldrefiningass




ERTC 2021

Decarbonising refining: key insights from Pernis refinery

Andy Gosse PRESIDENT, Shell Catalysts & Technologies

Across the sector, we all recognise that it will not be easy to reduce the car- bon footprints of our refineries. But has it ever been easy in refining? The sec-





tor has a remarkable track record of solv- ing challenges and I believe this will be no different, especially because we all under- stand just how important it is that we do. Decarbonisation is undoubtedly one of the most profound strategic issues that downstream executives will face, so, in this article I discuss some of the actions that Shell is taking at one of its largest facilities: Pernis refinery in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which will soon be Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam. The organisation that I lead, Shell Catalysts & Technologies, is supporting Shell as it transforms its business to meet its target of becoming a net-zero-emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner. We are also helping other companies to achieve their own net-zero goals. And when Shell Catalysts &Technologies provides that sup- port, it tends towork through the three clas- sic decarbonisation pathways ( Figure 1 ). The first pathway involves looking at ways in which producers can reduce emis- sions from their own operations by increas- ing energy efficiency. Although energy efficiency is important, the facilities that bring an energy product to the customer are typically responsible for less than 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that product. Some 85% of the greenhouse gas emis- sions come from the product’s end use: consumers driving their cars, for example. Therefore, the second pathway involves considering ways to make lower carbon energy products such as biofuels. The third pathway encompasses captur- ing (or offsetting) any remaining emissions through carbon capture and storage (CCS) or nature-based solutions. The same three pathways are reflected in Pernis refinery’s decarbonisation activities. Pathway 1: Increase energy efficiency At all of Shell’s downstream assets, teams are working to continue improving utilisa- tion, energy efficiency and carbon inten- sity. Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and energy management plans are in place, and the sites are investing in cogeneration units and upgrades for equipment and technol- ogy. Pernis refinery is no exception. Here, a recent energy-efficiencyprogrammehelped to cut CO 2 emissions by the equivalent of the annual emissions of 50,000 cars. An interesting initiative that has helped to further improve Pernis refinery’s energy efficiency is an innovative project in which waste heat from the refinery is used to heat local homes. The site has installed specialised technology to capture and store residual heat from operations, which

Ensuring that the facilities that bring energy products to customers use energy as eciently as possible

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from products’ end use

Mitigating emissions with carbon sinks

Figure 1 The three classic decarbonisation pathways

ual products into sustainable low carbon road and aviation fuels. The Shell Renewable Refining Process is a hydroprocessing or hydrotreated veg- etable oil technology for producing renew- able fuels from vegetable oils, fats and greases, and is licensed by Shell Catalysts & Technologies. Pernis refinery selected it

was previously considered a waste prod- uct, that has the capacity to heat more than 16,000 households in Rotterdam. Pathway 2: Make lower carbon energy products The site’s emissions will fall further when the Rotterdam Clean Energy Hub is com- pleted, which is expected to be in 2023. This is an industry collaboration that will see up to 60,000 kg/d of green hydro- gen produced through electrolysis using renewable electricity from the Hollandse Kust Zuid wind farm. Initially, this green hydrogen will go to Pernis refinery to help lower its emissions. But there is another important aspect to this: the availability of hydrogen will encour- age heavy-duty transport customers to invest in hydrogen-fuelled trucks. So, in this way, Pernis refinery will play a crucial role in helping that sector to lower its emissions. This will also help the refinery to reduce the emissions that come from the use of the products it sells – its Scope 3 emissions. Pernis refinery is also pursuing an ambitious biofuels strategy and recently announced a final investment decision to build an 820,000 t/y low carbon fuels facility. The new plant, which will feature the Shell Renewable Refining Process, plans to convert low carbon oils and fats such as used cooking oil, waste animal fat and other industrial and agricultural resid-

ducing lower carbon energy products is through co-processing. In this way, they can add up to 10% renewable feedstock to an existing hydroprocessing unit, often without any capital expenditure. There are some risks to manage with co-processing, but it is a well-established technique. Pathway 3: Capture and use or store the remaining emissions For many years, Pernis refinery has been routing 40% of the CO 2 its Shell gasifica- tion hydrogen unit produces to local green- houses, where it is used to accelerate crop growth and reduce the need for horticul- turalists to generate their own CO 2 . The high purity of the CO 2 not only ben- efits the crops, it also makes it ideal for CCS. By the end of 2023, Pernis refinery expects the remaining CO 2 to be routed to the North Sea and stored in depleted gas reservoirs deep beneath the seabed. This would be through Porthos, a pro- ject that will also involve three neighbour- ing plants: the ExxonMobil refinery and Air Products and Air Liquide’s hydrogen plants. For Pernis refinery, which would route emissions from the gasification plant and the Shell Renewable Refining Process unit, this would reduce the site’s emissions by some 25%. CO 2 from the new unit would be captured using ADIP ULTRA, Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ solvent technol- ogy for capturing CO 2 from high-pressure process streams, which is also used at Shell’s Quest CCS project in Canada. Key learnings One of the key takeaways from all this, for me, is that there is awide range of decarbon- isation solutions that can be applied. And the scale of the challenge is that most busi- nesses will need to apply nearly all of them. But I also think that Pernis refinery dem- onstrates something else: that companies and governments are increasingly willing to collaborate to solve these major challenges. Whether it is sending CO 2 to greenhouses andheat tohomes, developing infrastructure or working with other companies to develop green hydrogen networks and CCS projects, most of these initiatives involveworkingwith others – and momentum is building.

DId you know the Shell Renewable Refining Process will enable refineries to process 100% biofeeds?

following an extensive assessment of the numerous available technologies. Shell Catalysts & Technologies is also working with several other refiners around the world to help them to evaluate the technology’s process economics and its robustness to future demand and regulatory scenarios. This technology would enable these refineries to process 100% biofeeds. For many refiners, the easiest way to start pro-

Contact: Chris.Egby@shell.com

Pernis refinery


ERTC 2021

Sulphur spiking agents for hydroprocessing units activation

Svetan Kolitcheff ARKEMA

The hydroprocessing process employs cat- alysts inwhich the active species aremolyb- denum or tungsten sulphides promoted by cobalt or nickel sulphides. Sulphide catalysts are pyrophoric. Therefore, they are delivered as oxides and activated in- situ by reductive sulphiding in the pres- ence of hydrogen at elevated pressure and temperature. H 2 S is a colourless, heavier than air, explosive and toxic gas. In refineries, for obvious safety reasons, liquid sulphur spik- ing agents are used instead. Avery common application is hydroprocessingcatalyst acti- vation, where the most used sulphur spiking agents are dimethyl disulphide (DMDS) and di-tert-butyl polysulphide (TBPS). Both spik- ing agents have their pros and cons: • TBPS contains 54% sulphur compared to DMDS 68% sulphur. Thus, an extra 25% of TBPS is required to complete the sulphiding, which complicates the logistic requirement for delivery, near the unit and increases the costs. • DMDS has a lower flash point and typi- cally needs to be stored under nitrogen pressure in closed containers. However, this drawback does not imply a new risk in the application, as processed feedstocks and products present an average flash point. This risk can also be taken care of by injection service companies. For example, Carelflex, which performs these injections on a regular basis, comes with dedicated, safe equipment (magnetic drive pumps, dry break coupling, etc). • The higher volatility of DMDS ensures a good vaporisation and distribution upstream of the bed reactor. DMDS is also thermally stable, whereas TBPS decomposes in reactive material (see decomposition paragraph below). To avoid such an event, TBPS needs to be injected at high pressures, as close as possible to the process, and should not be used in gas-phase sulphidation.

 Light by-products of the DMDS decom- position do not cause coke.












Using TBPS as a sulphiding agent: • TBPS decomposition is less clean than DMDS and comes with elemental sulphur as an intermediary up to 250°C. • The by-products are heavier:  Final by-product is isobutane, which exits the separator with liquid hydrocarbon.  TBPS decomposition can form elemen- tal sulphur when decomposing at inter- mediate temperature. It can precipitate and lead to pressure drop. An additional problem can result from the recombina- tion of olefins and sulphur, forming a solid compound called “carsul”. Carsul forma- tion downstream of the reactor can plug the heat exchanger and increase the pressure drop at the entry of the reactor. Hydrotreating catalyst activity Once the catalyst has been activated, the hydroprocessing unit can start to treat the feedstock. The activity of the hydrotreating process is obtained by measuring the resid- ual sulphur at the outlet and for different temperatures. Figure 2 shows the activity result from an academic laboratory on con- ventional catalysts, using the same normal- ised activation procedure for each sulphur compound. To reach the same performance, the unit start-up using TBPS needs to run at higher temperatures than the unit start-up using DMDS. Conclusion The choice of sulphiding agent is the pri- mary step, but proper sulphiding also requires an experienced team, dedicated equipment and the best monitoring to opti- mise the sulphiding process. For hydropro- cessing catalysts activation, the two main sulphur compounds are DMDS and TBPS. Both compounds have their advantages and disadvantages. In terms of benefit, DMDS is well headed, which is why it is the stand- ard on the market. It is the sulphiding agent with the highest sulphur content and pro- vides the highest activity. Some drawbacks can easily be avoided or at least diminished by selecting the right sulphiding service company, such as Carelflex from Arkema.


+H 140 - 170˚C







160 - 200˚C


SH + S



+ 2 H

170 - 230˚C


+ 2 H 200 - 230˚C

« CARSUL » Solid deposit

170 - 250˚C

2 HS + 2 CH


HS +



250 - 400˚C



Figure 1 Sulphur spiking agents decomposition pathways on hydrotreating catalyst (LHSV: 1 h -1 , P : 35 b), determined by Arkema

decomposition temperature requirement for primary safe sulphiding. Apart from this similar property, their decomposition path- ways vary a lot. Using DMDS as a sulphiding spiking agent: • H 2 S is the main sulphur product at 210°C. Once the primary sulphiding step is reached (between 220 and 230°C), the clean decomposition of DMDS means that every sulphur atom is contributing to the sulphiding. • The by-products are lighter:  They may accumulate in the recycle loop, which can bring unwanted SOx emissions if the procedure is not fully optimised and the purge timing not antic- ipated. Fortunately, the sulphur supplier or catalyst manufacturer are able to offer advice to mitigate this risk.

Did you know Sulphur spiking agents heated in the presence of hydrogen and catalyst decompose into H 2 S?

TBPS is much more viscous than DMDS, which increases the pressure drop and energy required for injection. This draw- back is exacerbated at low temperatures. Sulphur spiking agents decomposition Sulphur spiking agents heated in the pres- ence of hydrogen and catalyst decom- pose into H 2 S. An important criteria for the selection of a sulphiding agent is that its decomposition temperature must be low enough to ensure a primary sulphiding at 220-230°C. Partially sulphided catalysts are robust enough to withstand secondary sulphiding at or above 300°C without any concomitant over-reduction of the metals, causing activity loss. Both sulphur spiking agents come with their own decomposition pathways on hydrotreating catalyst (see Figure 1 ). Both sulphiding compounds start provid- ing H 2 S at around 170°C, which suits the






Physical properties comparison: DMDS vs TBPS DMDS




Sulphur content, wt/wt%



Flash point, °C Boiling point, °C



375 370 365 360 355 345 350 0


170* 12.8

Temperature (˚C)

Viscosity at 20°C, cP


Figure 2 Residual sulphur coming from hydrotreating catalyst activation with different sulphur agents

* Start of thermal decomposition

Contact: svetan.kolitcheff@arkema.com

Table 1


ERTC 2021 ERTC 2018

Applying unrivalled scientific expertise to enable cleaner air, improved health and the more efficient use of our planet’s natural resources The transition to low carbon energy...

Johnson Matthey’s LCH ™ process solution for clean hydrogen production uses proven technology to achieve higher product yield, improved energy efficiency and reduced cost of capital to deliver low carbon hydrogen produced at scale with leading environmental and economic performance. Johnson Matthey is a member of the Hydrogen Council and is at the forefront of science to deliver global solutions for the most efficient use of our planet’s natural resources.

Climate change is a growing threat and hydrogen has the potential to be a game changer. It is used in the synthesis of countless industrial chemicals and is the most viable low carbon fuel for the future. Hydrogen is dominantly produced by steam methane reforming, but the conventional process generates and releases significant quantities of greenhouse gas CO₂. If hydrogen is to play a major role in the energy transition, then production needs to be coupled with carbon capture and storage.



ERTC 2021

Renewing the fight against phosphorus

Sergio A. Robledo Haldor Topsoe

Setting the stage for a high-value market With the goal of furthering progress towards a sustainable future, governments in the US and EU have made their demands clear: a significant amount of renewable fuel must be added to the transport-fuel pool, and it must be added soon. In the US, the number is 36 billion gallons by 2022, as outlined in Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2). In the EU, the Renewable Energy Directive Recast (RED II) states that at least 14%of the EU’s transport fuels must derive from renewable sources by 2030. For refiners, the question is no longer “What’s my role in this?”. Instead, it is “How can I maximise the value of my role?”. With solutions emerging to help producers tackle the challenges inherent to renewa- ble production, it is important to consider four key elements when commissioning a renewable unit. They are:


O K Na K Mg K

Al K P K K K

Ca K Fe K Mo L

Figure 1 A catalyst particle, its surface coated with phosphorus. This image was produced using an energy-dispersive spectrometer attached to a scanning electron microscope has positioned us as an ideal supplier, and partner, for any renewable project. Market-leading catalysts, capable of producing drop-in fuels from feedstocks of any quality and severity without com- promising on business objectives, have always been our specialty. Our customers know they can count on us to help them reach or exceed increasingly difficult tar- gets, even as legislation tightens and mar- ket conditions fluctuate. Our mission doesn’t end with our pre- sent success; we are committed to help- ing our partners excel in a future defined, in no small part, by the availability of high- quality renewable fuel, and we know that more effort will be needed, on our part, to realise that vision. The combination of our vast industrial experience, along with sub-












Figure 2 Phosphorus profile of first-generation phosphorous traps

• Feed sourcing • Feed pretreatment • Hydroprocessing • Dewaxing

stantial R&D investment, has provided for the introduction of a new, groundbreaking catalyst: TK-3000 PhosTrap™. The challenge of inescapable impurities Various types of renewable feedstocks are available for transport fuel production, including: • Oilseed crops (e.g., soybean or canola) • Tall oil, corn oil, used cooking oils, and animal fats • Lignocellulosic biomass from agricul-

feedstocks also produce alternative con- taminants during the conversion process. Derived from living tissues like cell mem- branes, bone dust, muscle residue, and other organic compounds, the list of renew- able contaminants is extensive. But the most common is phosphorus, since phos- pholipids are the primary building blocks of cell membranes, and inorganic phosphorus is present in bone dust. Conversion of different feedstocks will yield different phosphorus concentrations, and that concentration can be reduced with pretreatment, but all renewable produc-

Making real progress in the renewable era For almost two decades, Topsoe has been at work developing and refining renewable solutions, the first of which was a licensed HydroFlex unit that entered operation in 2010, using a proprietary catalyst. HydroFlex has since served as the pro- cessing foundation for more than 60 renewable fuel plants.The expertisegained from such extensive industry involvement

tural residues, algae, trees, and grass As alternatives to fossil fuels, these From refining to chemicals, a switch of the yield in four stages


ical operations, with the primary objec- tive of maximising chemicals production. It consists of the ultimate degree of inte- gration between a refinery and a petro- chemical plant to form a unique complex dedicated to pushing forward the conver- sion into valuable petrochemical interme- diates (olefins and aromatics). CTC integration is a necessity to meet a driving demand towards high-value chemi- cals (HVCs), at the expense of transporta- tion fuels and heavier fuel oils. A Staged Transformation of the Refining Industry A brief overview of the refining indus- try sheds light on the increasing need for refining and petrochemical integration. As shown in Figure 1 , it is possible to chart

Over the last decade, the demand for main petrochemicals intermediates (eth- ylene, propylene, paraxylene) increased by an annual growth rate of around 4%. That growth rate is very similar to the one observed for the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the same period. On the other hand, since 2010, fuel demand growth followed global population change with an annual growth of 1% per year. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), petrochemicals are rap- idly becoming the largest driver of global oil consumption; they are set to account for more than a third of the growth in oil demand by 2030, and nearly half by 2050, ahead of trucks, aviation and shipping. The crude-to-chemicals (CTC) concept involves merging refining and petrochem-

Stage 4: Crude-to-chemicals

Stage 3: Scale and portfolio complexity


Stage 2: Forward integration


Towards PX Mega-scale deep conversion New technology deployment

Stage 1: Simple recovery


+ steam cracker & commodity derivatives


Recovery of aromatics & FCC olens

Chemical yield

Figure 1 Chemical yield increase for each stage of the refining and petrochemical integration Adapted from IHS (WPC 2019)


ERTC 2021

ers face the same truth: a certain amount of phosphorus always finds its way into a hydroprocessing reactor. Over time, phosphorus build-up across catalyst beds can, and will, result in rapid pressure drop build. Once that pressure drop interrupts production, a complete shutdown of the reactor becomes neces- sary, along with replacement of affected catalyst layers. With renewable demand set to increase dramatically, maximising uptime should be among the foremost priorities for com- petitive refiners. Given the unpredicta- ble nature of feedstock quality, Topsoe decided to address that priority where the most progress could be made: the catalyst.


O K Na K Mg K

Al K P K K K

Ca K Fe K Mo L

Figure 3 A TK-3000 PhosTrap catalyst particle showing extensive pore system penetration of phosphorus Build-up to a better catalyst We decided to pursue a new solution. A fundamental understanding of both the crust formation mechanism and the crust itself, paired with our long-standing knowl- edge of catalyst design and manufacture, aided us in devising an effective answer for solving external build-up. Did you know a certain amount of phosphorus always finds its way into a hydroprocessing reactor? Its purpose would be: • To prevent phosphorus slip to the bulk catalyst • To inhibit pressure drop build from phos- phorus crust formation • To ensure longer catalyst cycle length, improving unit profitability and catalyst- value ratio mark that in the year 1990 the global oil demand for chemical feedstock repre- sented only 8% of total oil demand. Stage 2 - Forward Integration The 1990–2000 period marks a notice- able milestone since it consists precisely of the premises of the synergy between the refining and petrochemical sites, with battery limits partly integrated. The early stage of this synergy effect is reflected in an enhanced flexibility, which is the keyword of the nascent integration concept. Back then, diesel production was pushed against gasoline produc- tion, resulting in 15-25% of naphtha dedicated to chemical products mainly through steamcracking and aromatics production plants of still relatively mod- est capacities, with the exception of a couple of back-integration pioneers at that time. Such flexibility would not have been possible without reaching higher con- version levels owing to technological advances. Even so, the refining units of the plant remained mostly devoted to fuel production, from which side streams were spared to feed adjacent petrochem- icals units, which were conceived as a profitability booster for the plant.










Understanding the pressure drop mechanism

Topsoe has always relied upon fundamen- tal research as a starting point to overcom- ing production challenges. Throughout the process of analysing reaction kinetics, and the role they play in pressure drop, we uti- lised scanning electron microscope (SEM) imagery to discern why phosphorus build- up occurs in the use of conventional grad- ing products. Figure 1 demonstrates the issue: a tra- ditional catalyst particle, used to absorb and trap contaminants, fails to absorb phosphorus (shown as a bright green layer) into its pore system. Instead, the phospho- rus simply binds to the particle’s surface, forming a material similar to glass. The gradual build-up of this material glues the catalyst particles together, filling the inter- stitial void within the reactor and resulting in rapid pressure drop. Initial improvements to existing prod- ucts were partially successful: phosphorus uptake and penetration both increased, but the surface of the catalyst remained encrusted with phosphorus ( Figure 2 ). the evolution of the refining industry, from low chemicals conversion levels to much higher ones in recent years. This gradual evolution has been made possible by the ever more sophisticated technologies implemented over time. These technologies enabled a continu- ous adjustment as a response to market changes and regulations over investments. A series of steps allows for a transition towards chemicals even for short- and mid-term perspectives. Stage 1 - Simple Recovery Before the 90s, refining and petrochemi- cal were two distinctive industries made up of: • On the one hand, a conventional refinery set up to produce fuels • On the other, a petrochemical plant to produce major intermediates in petrochemicals At that time, when no deep conversion was required, there was no global vision, as the two value chains were evolving sepa- rately within their own sector, without shar- ing the full picture of the market demands. Refining naphtha was mainly dedicated to gasoline pool production, taking as a bench-

Figure 4 Phosphorus profile of TK-3000 PhosTrap

Producing for a brighter future As always, the technology you use mat- ters, but so does the technical exper- tise involved in maximising its value. TK-3000 PhosTrap – or indeed any simi- larly designed catalyst – can extend the life of your hydroprocessing catalysts, but you also need the right partner to ensure that you are getting the most out of a forward- thinking investment. When you are ready to take your pro- duction in an even smarter direction, get in touch with us. Topsoe is committed to helping producers succeed as enablers of a more sustainable future, and all it takes to get started is the will to progress – something we have always had in common with our partners.

Our efforts culminated in the success- ful development of TK-3000 PhosTrap. Applied as a guard in diesel and jet-fuel hydrotreating units processing renewable feedstocks, TK-3000 PhosTrap is a hydro- treating catalyst for use in fixed-bed HDO service, with a large pore structure uniquely tailored to maximise phosphorus pick-up. Figure 3 demonstrates its revolution- ary absorption capabilities: full penetra- tion into the pore system is clearly evident, with far greater pick-up towards the cen- tre of the particle, as well as a greater overall area beneath the curve, translat- ing to the superior overall capacity shown in Figure 4 . The first load to include this new catalyst was installed in 2020, with subsequent installation across a handful of units, and all installation instances have delivered exemplary performance, with phosphorus pick-up up to six times greater than that of conventional trap catalysts. Stage 3 - Scale and Portfolio Complexity After the third oil shock in 2008, the expensive oil era began. Higher conver- sion levels were required, as the balance between petroleum products and chem- icals kept on changing – and all the more so since heavy crude oil transformation is now of topical interest. The third integration stage, which occurred this past decade, focuses on the consolidation of partial integration and the building of ever larger plants. In total, 25-40% of a much larger naph- tha production was diverted to chemical products. The synergy between refin- ing and petrochemicals units was not yet fully optimised, but profitability greatly increased nonetheless thanks to techno- logical improvements. Technological improvements made it pos- sible to: • Benefit from economies of scale by build- ing larger plant capacities • Reduce drastically the energy costs associated with production • A more selective processing of available refinery streams to finished petrochemi- cals products.

TK-3000 PhosTrap ™ is a patent pending technology.

Contact: ASLI@topsoe.com

Stage 4 - Ultimate Crude Oil Conversion Finally, in 2020, the fourth stage of inte- gration started, which is the ultimate crude oil conversion into HVCs to capture further value, more attractive margins and reach robust growth prospects for chem- ical products. This ambitious but realistic goal is achievable through the combining of CTC technologies to transform a high proportion, in excess of 40%, of crude oils into chemicals. This implies significantly converting low- value residues to improve economics and to include flexibility to constantly match the market demand, thus ensuring maxi- mum returns, taking up the challenge of current global trends. While staged investments tailor-made to site characteristics and market objectives are certainly a valuable route for upgrading the profitability of existing sites by inte- grating new units, grassroots CTC com- plexes designed as a seamless system set a new benchmark for efficiency, flexibility to market and profitability. The first large- scale CTC complexes designed by a single refining and petrochemicals technologies provider were built at the end of the 2010– 2020 decade.

Contact: press@axens.net

The CTC concept was born.


ERTC 2021

Female faces of the refinery boardroom

Emma Shewell WRA Researcher

MIDDLE EAST Moving to a different section of the globe, one woman claiming her place at the table in the Middle East is Reem Al-Anbari, Chief Financial Officer of ADNOC Gas Processing. Starting her career as an assis- tant accountant,Reemworkedherwayupto become the first female CFO in the ADNOC Group and was in fact the first woman in the United Arab Emirates oil and gas indus- try to hold that position. According to sta- tistics from the UAE Ministry of Finance, women make up around 70% of the coun- try’s university graduates and 46.6%of the workforce. However only 10% of private sector companies’ leadership is made up of women. 5 This trend can be seen in many other parts of the world, highlighting the pool of talent available to companies that focus on hiring female graduates. In her acceptance speech of the Oil &Gas Woman of the Year award in 2016, Reem encouraged the oil and gas community to look for female talent. She stated, “Some people might say only a man can do this job – themanaging, the travel. I want to give out a message to the community that I can han- dle this role, and that a woman can perform any role, regardless of what segment of the business, whether offshore or onshore.” 6 The careers and accomplishments of these individuals highlight what women can do when their talents are recognised and opportunities are afforded to them. As the oil and gas industry becomes more ESG focused, the time has arrived for organisations to integrate gender equity into future-focused, sustainable business models. As Morag highlighted, this world is changing, and it is up to us (or, more impor- tantly, business leaders) how we choose to participate. References 1 RickK,Martén I, von Lonski U, 2017, Untapped Reserves: Promoting Gender Balance in Oil and Gas. 2 Udo B, 2020, Premium Times, How we selected over 1,000 new recruits —NNPC. 3 Hub Culture. 2020, Hub Culture Davos 2020: Morag Watson, Chief Digital Innovation Officer, BP. 4 Macaulay T, 2018, CIO. BP Chief Digital Innovation Officer Morag Watson on the future of oil. 5 Gnana J, 2020, The National News. How the women of Adnoc are changing the mindset of the oil and gas sector. 6 Sen I, 2016, Oil &Gas. Awards 2016: Borouge CFO namedWoman of the Year.

focused on the technological advance- ments required to maintain sustainable development in downstream industries. During the panel entitled “Opportunities in Disruptive Technologies” at the 2020 Latin American Refining Technology Conference, Noel emphasised the impact technology can have on operational efficiency, as suc- cessful planning based on accurate data can contribute significantly to agility of pro- cesses and decision-making. She went on to discuss the Luminar project, focused on connectivity within YPF facilities, which she described as a key enabler during the pan- demic, as it allowed for online monitoring of equipment and quickly provided the data for HSE management such as social distancing analytics. Although technology developments can make refineries more efficient and agile, in the context of the energy transition one might askwhether the “refineryof the future” might cease tobea refinery at all.Movement away from hydrocarbons does pose a threat to the existence of the downstream industry in the long term, a fact that may discourage younger generations of women from joining in the first place. However, female leaders such as Claudia Kalamar, Head of Refining at ANCAP, are providing an example of how women can play a part in transforming the downstreamsector into a sustainable indus- try with a long life ahead of it. In the past year, ANCAP has positioned itself as a potential regional leader for green hydrogen in Latin America. An abundance of natural resources coupled with exten- sive experience of hydrogen production and use in its high-conversion refinery, pro- vides ANCAP with the resources and know- how to scale up green hydrogen projects. Alongside the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, and the State Utility, ANCAP is working on project Verne, a pilot project for the production of green hydrogen and its use in fuel-cell, heavy-duty road trucks and passenger buses. This pilot project is intended to be used to draw a Hydrogen Roadmap for scaling up the use of green hydrogen in transportation, production of chemical feedstocks, and for export poten- tial. Claudia and her downstream team are showing that downstream industries in emerging markets are able to use the exten- sive experience and resources in their arse- nal, and remap their skills towards cleaner downstream products.

As is the case with many industrial sec- tors of the world economy, oil and gas boardrooms are historically homogenous spaces where female faces are few and far between. Although downstream companies seemto performbetter than oilfield services and upstreamcompanies, the percentage of women in oil and gas is lowacross the board, estimated at around 20% representation. 1 However, within our WRA network, we are fortunate to have engaged with some of the most influential women in the indus- try, who have all broken the proverbial glass ceiling and built impressive careers in vari- ous segments of the downstream sector. In addition to its inherent value of justice and equality, diversity is proven to enhance deci- sion-making, providing different perspec- tives and a broader range of solutions to the ever-varying problems this industry faces today. Representation matters, and this is whywewish to highlight a few of thewomen in downstream who are proving the impor- tance of diverse leadership. technical roles Whilst the total number of women in the oil and gas industry is low, this num- ber decreases even further when looking specifically at technical roles. However, one exception is Lawrencia Ndupu, Chief Operating Officer of Downstream for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Having begun her career with NNPC in 1986, Lawrencia has 35 years of experi- ence in the company, covering technical roles in both upstream and downstream, as well as functional roles in the operations, commercial and investment directorate. 2 Another exception is Sølvi Storsæter Bjørgum. Having achieved a doctorate in chemistry, Sølvi joined the oil and gas industry in R&D for Statoil, the Norwegian oil company now known as Equinor. It was after gaining this research experience that she moved into a process engineer position at Mongstad Refinery. This would be the beginning of her journey through the refin- ery ranks, ultimately assuming the roles of Managing Director at Kalundborg Refinery and CEO of Equinor Refining Denmark. Besides being the largest oil refinery in Denmark, processing 5.5 m/tons of crude oil, condensate and feedstock every year, Kalundborg refinery is particularly interest- ing due to its integral role in the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis initiative. This initia-

tive represents an important step in indus- trial movement towards a circular economy, exemplifying the benefits of a closed loop industrial system. The initiative comprises several industrial plants that are closely located to one another, between which an ecosystem of sorts has been created whereby residual products of one enterprise are used as a resource by another. This mini- mises waste and provides mutual economic and environmental benefits for these local enterprises. In her role as MD of Equinor’s Kalundborg refinery, Sølvi sits on the Board of Directors of the Industrial Symbiosis initi- ative, a project to watch in the coming years as an example of refineries of the future. In looking towards the refinery of the future, one might turn to the work of Morag Watson, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Innovation Officer at BP. Morag is a highly experienced leader of teams in the supermajor, having spent over 25 years at BP. She has won many awards such as the ‘Association forWomen in Computing’ award for Top Women in Technology and a ‘HER’ award from The Houston Woman Magazine, which recognises Houston women who serve as role models. Leading the company’s Digital Innovation Organisation office, Morag‘s team are responsible for identifying the most recent technological developments, that in her own words might seem “science fiction” 3 , imag- ining how they may impact on the business, and then investigating how they might even- tually be implemented within operations. As Morag so succinctly described during the London IP Expo in 2018, “Whether you like it or not, [this] world is going to change. How we want to participate in the world is absolutely our decision.” 4 BP has made the decision to commit to a low carbon transi- tion. This company, alongside many oil and gas majors, is equipped with the resources and opportunity to play an integral part in the energy outlook of the future. Who better to lead these projects than accomplished women such as Morag, who may be able to provide different perspectives and opinions to the historically dominant male workforce. Latin America A woman who has been making waves in the Latin American region is María Noel Forame, Head of Downstream Technology at YPF. Similar to the work Morag and her team are doing in North America, Noel is


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