Optimizing Opportunity Crudes in Refining Operations

An Environmental Leader article, How Data Analytics is Changing the Oil & Gas Industry, highlights challenges in refining opportunity crudes:

Opportunity crudes, such as heavy oil produced from the Canadian oil sands, and light tight oils produced by hydraulic fracturing, are categorized by their inconsistency and the presence of problematic components. They are difficult to process, but discounted in price because of their unpredictable properties and processing challenges.

Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo


Last week, we shared the economics in minimizing octane giveaway by refining closer to specification through blend optimization. Today, I want to highlight a presentation to be given by Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo and TopNIR Systems‘ Didier Lambert at the October 24-28 Emerson Exchange conference in Austin, Texas.

Their presentation, A Unique approach to maximize Refinery margins through optimal use of Opportunity Crudes, looks at optimizing the process when these lower cost crude oil feedstocks are used.

Here is the presentation abstract:

Crude diet characterization is crucial for Refinery Optimization. It affects firstly Planning and Scheduling activities and secondly Process Optimization of individual Units as also Blending Plants. A good understanding of the crude entering to the refinery has an impact on the planning and affects all the Refinery operations. Crude Oil qualities available on the market today are wider than in the past. Indeed, new Oil fields coming with conventional or synthetic Crude oils as well as with Shale oils make more critical Crude Oil Management at the Refinery gate.

Qualities of crude oil available on the market today are wider than in the past. Indeed, new oil fields coming with conventional or synthetic crude oils as well as with shale oils make crude oil management at the refinery gate more critical. Refiners are challenged from operating the crude unit at optimum targets as well as dealing with bottlenecks, slowdowns and accelerated deterioration of assets caused by components in the opportunity crudes.

On the other hand, substituting 1% more opportunity crudes can yield margin improvements of $5 million USD for a typical refinery. This amounts to a payback of less than a year.

Heat Exchanger FoulingTo address the challenges in processing opportunity crudes, it is important to have online, continuous knowledge of crude quality to facilitate appropriate crude tank allocation in terms of crude compatibility. In an earlier post, Challenges in Refining Tight Oil, we described how incompatibilities could lead to asphaltene precipitation, which could lead to downstream heat exchanger fouling.

Near infrared (NIR) analyzers save the vector of properties of crude available on-line in real time. This data provides input to blend optimization strategies to get the full value of crude in refining downstream processes. Monitoring the heat exchangers continuously also helps to reduce the impact of rapid asset deterioration like fouling, and corrosion. And, online corrosion monitoring can help verify the integrity of process piping and pipelines.

Register by August 31 to save $400 off the full conference registration fee. You can also connect and interact with other refining experts in the Refining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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