The next step
RPME meets Keith Aspray, vice president, Honeywell UOP
Honeywell UOP’s Keith Aspray says the challenges that refiners are currently faced with can only be addressed through the use of effective technology that makes their assets produce better products and higher profits
Today refineries in the region are facing some key challenges that need immediate addressing. One of primary challenges is the ability to process heavier and more sour crudes. Another is the need for the Middle East refiners to meet the increasing stringent demand for lower sulphur transportation fuels by their export markets.
And a third is the ability to integrate existing refining assets and streams with higher value petrochemical ones in order to better position the refinery for future growth, product diversity and higher employment creation.
So we asked Keith Aspray, vice president and general manager, Honeywell UOP Middle East how the refiners can effectively tide over their present challenges. Aspray said to address all these challenges, the one crucial solution to turn to, is modernising the refinery and the need for better technology is inevitable part of it.
“Technology is critical in enabling this region’s refiners to modernise and be better positioned to meet the future of this industry through higher value extraction from every barrel of crude, the ability to process non-traditional feedstock, state-of-the-art clean fuels technologies, optimized energy efficiency, and best-in-class technical service that enables plants to run most efficiently and at the highest output. These key pillars are crucial to modernising a refinery in the Middle East,” he explained.
One of UOP’s game changing technologies is Uniflex, highlighted Aspray. This technology enables refiners to upgrade heavy, bottom-of-the-barrel crude oil to high value transportation fuels while ensuring maximum reduction of pitch.
Another key technology, the company is marketing in the Middle East is UOP’s solutions for aromatics complexes which enable refiners to most efficiently integrate their refining assets with petrochemical technologies that will better position them in areas with high demand growth.
All of these technologies come with revolutionary catalysts, adsorbents and specialty products that achieve optimal yields.
Traditionally, UOP began as a refining technology provider. Aspray says although it is important to understand that UOP’s success only comes with their customers’ success, it is not hard to see the natural transition, and integration, from refining to petrochemicals.
Additionally, the rising demand for natural gas and the challenges that brings are a growing portion of UOP’s portfolio of technologies and products today.
UOP’s creation of a Gas Processing and Hydrogen business along with its recent acquisition of the Thomas Russell Company is proof of that, he adds.
“This industry is in constant change and it is only through our ability to anticipate this change while creating the highest value to our customers that we succeed. Obviously with that comes a significant investment and emphasis on R&D centrally, as well as various collaborations with Middle East operators that bring together our resources and facilities with the extensive knowledge and needs of these esteemed operators,” he says.
At the minute, he is excited about the aromatics complex solutions that is witnessing significant advances from a product perspective and is also being actively leveraged by various operators in the GCC.
The other technology from the company that is making noticeable changes to the industry is the PDH technology (Propane Dehydrogenation), which is being utilised by several operators in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This technology is enabling operators to effectively transform propane to high value propylene which allows the region to meet the global propylene market gap through this efficient on-purpose production. UOP is also helping the region’s transportation fuel producers meet the Euro V standards that is currently becoming the norm in large parts of the Middle East as well.
Aspray is firm in his belief that the Middle East region has seen the potential of technology and what it can do to the available feedstock, and is happy he is at the helm of affairs at the UOP guiding the operators to make better use of resources.