Decarbonisation Technology - August 2023 Issue

Breaking boundaries to decarbonise plant emissions How refineries are thinking outside the box to curb emissions and build a clear but flexible path through the energy transition

Duncan Mitchell KBC (A Yokogawa Company)

T he petroleum refining industry is under immense pressure to reduce emissions. Collectively, they play a major role in producing atmospheric greenhouse gasses (GHG). Based on KBC’s internal model, a facility processing 150 thousand barrels of crude oil per day emits more than 2 million tonnes of Scopes 1 and 2 carbon dioxide (CO₂) from its processes, heaters, and boilers every year. Further, the E10 gasoline, which contains 10% renewable ethanol and is produced from the facility’s gasoline blendstocks, releases more than four times the amount of CO₂ in use compared to the emissions generated during its production, blending, and distribution process. This example highlights the need to consider the product’s entire lifecycle when assessing its carbon footprint. Researchers show that refineries worldwide emitted about 34.1 gigatons (Gt) of GHGs,

with a 0.7% annual increase between 2000 and 2021 (Ma, et al., 2023). According to the International Energy Agency, oil and gas operations contribute about 5.1 Gt of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO₂-eq) each year in total indirect GHG emissions (IEA, 2023). This accounts for 15% of the total GHG emissions in the energy sector. The impact of human-produced climate change is undeniable. Global oil refineries and petrochemical plants are increasingly addressing their role in this crisis. Their aggressive goals are aimed at reducing their emissions and those of their products. A comprehensive and practical way to achieve these goals and reach net zero is to build a viable roadmap, such as the example in Figure 1 . As Figure 1 shows, a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist. Furthermore, finding a solution, or the most effective combination of solutions

Tool building/ quick wins





Build core tool kit / draft roadmap development

Towards hydrogen and CO capture and utilisation

Towards optimised integration, new feedstocks and new products

Quick wins implementation


Optimisation, compliance, dashboarding, reporting


Energy benchmarking, eciency improvements, organisation readiness

Go it alone

Thinking outside the box - carbon sequestration, green energy, renewable feedstocks, energy clusters

Out of the box

Figure 1 Roadmap to net zero


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