Market forecasts project that refiners who are able to maximise petrochemicals against transportation fuels can achieve higher economic performance in the short term. Against this backdrop, crude oil-to-chemicals technologies can offer an even greater competitive advantage to refiners with access to capital. On the extreme side of the petrochemical integration trend, zero fuels refineries seem to be a serious trend. Participants in the downstream sector need to consider this change in strategic planning (as an opportunity and threat). Even players with less capital power can take action to maximise their refining hardware’s petrochemical yield. Nevertheless, disruption is still a ‘bad word’ in the downstream industry, but crude-to-chemicals refining assets can produce a competitive imbalance in the mar- ket, primarily due to the concentration of capital invest- ments in the Asian market. Less integrated refiners tend to compete in a red ocean market where refining margins are lower due to lower added value to crude oil, such as transportation fuels, high sulphur fuel oil, and asphalt. Still, according to the characteristics of local markets, it is possible to reach economic sustainability. In this case, capital discipline and operational efficiency are even more important. Despite the benefits of petrochemical integration, reach- ing a circular economy in the downstream industry is imperative. To achieve this goal, the chemical recycling of plastics is essential to ensure that the downstream industry transitioning from transportation fuels to petrochemicals reduces the industry’s environmental impact while main- taining the required energy security. Working side-by-side with several clients and engineer- ing societies has provided the opportunity to deal with different challenges, each of them with different potential solutions both in terms of corrosion inhibition and fouling control. This begins with the lessons learned from co- processing through hydroprocessing units, where different renewable feedstock qualities and loads were tested. Typically, there is no lack of volume here. Organisations have access to a raft of different data sources, whether from maintenance or finance processes, for example, or even from the equipment itself, given that most assets today are smart and hold a great deal of information. A new corrosion inhibition strategy was needed and developed by collaborating with our clients in producing a detailed risk assessment. New antifouling chemicals were The success of this process in delivering quality informa- tion for the refiner is critically important, of course. But even beyond that, if it isn’t governed and managed efficiently across an organisation, there will be very little chance of getting the level of information it needs. It may well be too difficult or too disparate to gather. Therefore, data must be high quality, but it also needs to be easy to use. Critically, too, it needs to be easy to collaboration with process corrosion experts, can better deliver value when working closely with FCC unit engineers in safely navigating the exciting transition towards conver- sion of a wider combination of conventional and unconven- tional feedstocks. A Francesco Ragone, Development & Marketing Manager, Process & Deko D&M Dept., Chimec, fragone@ chimec.it: Feedstock for the oil refining industry is changing at a very fast pace, and so are the possible scenarios. Not only the standard industries are running towards reducing the GHG footprint and increasing their ESG Rating, but new play- ers, i.e., chemical industries, are presenting novel conver- sion processes for waste to secondary raw materials. Most of these new processes are still ‘black boxes’, and many of them surely will play an important role in the future diet of refineries. know that they need to do it to be successful in the future. They know they need technology to help them transform their business without impacting operations. They need technology to help them reach as close as possible to zero downtime. That is the problem statement (if you like), but underpinning it is the need to drive simpli- fication and harmonisation from a technology point of view. All this has led to the need for technology to support reli- able information that can help improve performance and decision-making. In technology terms, it is about harmonisation on a com- mon platform, followed by simplification of processes. That is about technology, of course, but the results of the approach also depend very much on the quality of data provided.
Literature cited 1 The Catalyst Group (TCGR), Advances in Catalysis for Plastic Con- version to Hydrocarbons , 2021. 2 Chang R J, Crude Oil to Chemicals – Industry Developments and Strategic Implications, presented at Global Refining & Petrochemicals Congress (Houston, USA), 2018. 3 Deloitte Company, Pathways Towards Circular Plastics: Point of View , 2021. 4 Gelder A, Bailey G, The Future of Petrochemicals: A Tale of Two Transitions , Wood Mackenzie, 2020. 5 IHS Markit, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Implications for Russian Oil and Refining Industries , 2020. 6 International Energy Agency (IEA), Oil 2021: Analysis and Forecast to 2026 , 2021. 7 Kim W C, Mauborge R, Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business Re- view , 2004. also on the stage due to different fouling precursors. Units fed by 100% bio-based feedstock (such as animal fats) shed light on another set of issues: it was possible to endorse the fouling deposition risk and select a tailor-made antifouling chemistry based on a rigorous analytical protocol applied. As far as circular economy projects are concerned, anti- fouling additives may play an important role in limiting the fouling build-up both in the pyrolysis/thermolysis reactor and HEX network. Ultimately, all this data is key for informing the choices that refiners and other oil and gas companies need to make regarding the best approach to take with their assets mov- ing forwards. In the current climate, that is less likely to be around decommissioning of the asset and much more likely to be concerned with security of supply and how to maxi - mise the value of the asset today and in the future. 8 Liu S, Kots P A, Vance B C, Danielson A, Vlachos D G, Plastic Waste to Fuels by Hydrocracking at Mild Conditions, Science Advances, 2021. 9 McKinsey & Company. Advanced Recycling: Opportunities for Growth, 2022. 10 Silva M W, Crude Oil Refining: A Simplified Approach , CRC Press, 1st Ed, 2022. 11 Silva M W, More Petrochemicals with Less Capital Spending, PTQ , 2020. 12 Vu T, Ritchie J, Naphtha Complex Optimization for Petrochemical Production, UOP Company, 2019. Marcio Wagner da Silva is a Process Engineer and Stockpiling Manager in the crude oil refining industry based in São José dos Campos, Brazil. He has many years of experience in research, design and construction in the oil and gas industry. He holds a Bachelor’s in chemical engineer- ing from University of Maringa, Brazil, a PhD in chemical engineering from University of Campinas, Brazil, an MBA in project management from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and an MBA in digital trans- formation from PUC/RS. Email: Marciows30@gmail.com Considering the wide array of variations, both the choice and the application of each one of the chemical treatment programmes must be strictly tailored to achieve the best results. Stuart Querns is director for enterprise asset management (EAM), Delaware United Kingdom. Analytic tools, together with commercial and proprietary software, can help foresee compatibility between different feedstocks, hence fouling-related risk, low-temperature wet corrosion risk (such as PVC, increased water load, increased carbon dioxide and organic acid load), and dry high-temperature corrosion risk (such as TAN-related cor- rosion, pyrolysis chlorides from PVC). Dealing with these new challenges has predicated con- tinuous development of a dedicated portfolio of technolo- gies and chemicals: • Antifouling • Corrosion inhibitors (both water side and process side) • Stabilisers • Compatibility enhancers • Biocides to prevent bio-feed degradation. distribute and disseminate to the ‘right people’ within the organisation. Typically, that involves those taking the big decisions of the company’s strategic direction (on the one hand) or, at a more granular level, those responsible for keeping the engineering department or the IT team running efficiently. The key point is that different kinds of information will be needed, depending on the kinds of people who are likely to be using it. To make accurate, timely decisions capable of support- ing and driving future strategy forward, refiners and other oil and gas companies need quality of data, and they also need harmonisation and the simplification and optimisation of service delivery. Those companies that get all this right will be well placed to effectively combat the multiple chal- lenges they face today and drive positive outcomes for their businesses long into the future.
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