Driving Profits

Finding a crude mix at competitive prices will become difficult

Competitive prices, Crude mix, ANALYSIS, Industry Trends

As feedstock slates continue to expand, finding an optimal crude mix for refining operations at competitive prices will become increasingly difficult for plant operators

Middle East refining and petrochemical companies are using breakthrough technology to obtain a competitive edge. With increasingly diverse crude sources, being able to easily evaluate and model the effects of crude feedstock selections is essential to achieve cost advantage. Overall, the Middle East is diversifying its petrochemical feedstock sourcing, with the role of refineries increasing.

By 2020, about 35% of the incremental feedstock for petrochemical production will be derived from refining operations. Getting the right crude oil to the right refinery is vital to turning opportunities into profits.

Analytics based on software models correctly calibrated for accuracy can provide real-time decision tools for the trader, engineer and refiner planner confirming the end product can be delivered on time, at the quality expected and at maximum possible profit on a real-time basis to support business decisions.

With competition increasing year on year, time is ticking for Middle East refineries to protect margins and examine their processes, including feedstock selection, to extract every bit of profit possible from their operations.

The implementation of leading-edge software helps Middle East industry leaders make accurate and rigorous petroleum refining simulation widely accessible to more refining organisations with clear and simpler visualisation tools to understand model results.

Isolated worlds of the refinery engineers, the planners, the scheduler and the traders, can now be closely tied together to achieve a level of collaboration with improved ability to optimise the entire refinery operation.

Planning and scheduling models can be kept up-to-date and more accurate through simple and immediate access to results of engineering models tuned with current operating results, increasing the confidence that the plan will more closely mirror the actual production performance.

Essentially, integrated process engineering software provides faster, more accurate and frequent analysis to achieve refinery profitability.

Assay data helps refinery engineers and planners determine particular crudes, whether that oil feedstock is compatible with a particular petroleum refinery train or whether the new candidate crude itself might trigger issues reducing yield and quality or restricting product mix flexibility in that facility.

Today, the market is experiencing shifts in the composition of incoming crude, which creates
challenges and opportunities for the industry. For Middle East refiners and petrochemical producers, strategic priorities are changing as regional feedstocks are increasingly consumed domestically.

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So, creating added value products has become a clear business strategy. As these organisations integrate their operations to move downstream in the value chain operational decisions become more complex against a backdrop of market uncertainty and shifting sources.

There are key trends in the use of software modelling tools in this new environment. First, rigorous engineering simulation models have become extremely important in understanding how to operate a refining or petrochemical facility to achieve best operations across the dimensions of flexibility, yield, quality and energy.

Middle East companies are increasingly employing engineering models, calibrated against current plant conditions, for tuning, decision-making, evaluating feedstock and product options.

At the same time, planning software is being increasingly used to evaluate both crudes and petrochemical feedstocks faster. With these modelling tools in place, Middle East producers have started to take advantage of the engineering models to more accurately and frequently update the planning models, increase planning validity and accuracy.

Models are dependent on the accuracy of the hydrocarbon characterisations, so companies need powerful process engineering tools, which can characterise crudes, analyse multiple feedstocks, track petroleum properties and carbon emissions and leverage activated energy and economics for optimal operations and maximised profits.

Advances in the ability to accurately characterise crudes from limited assay data is one of the most important areas of software innovation.

Aspen HYSYS Petroleum Refining, for example, layers powerful features into the Aspen HYSYS process simulator to simplify and improve petroleum refining simulations. Streams are driven with crude assays that support an extensive set of stream petroleum properties. Complex, multi-unit simulations can be quickly configured incorporating key conversion units, such as FCC and associated fractionation.

Breakthrough innovations help refinery engineers optimise operations and support planning. Aspen Assay Management accurately characterises the petroleum feed, including heavy oils for feedstock selection and optimised operations. This new capability delivers the same assay management system that is available in Aspen PIMS to Aspen HYSYS Petroleum Refining.

Feedstock assay data are an important tool in the refining process. The clock is ticking regarding the attractiveness of certain feedstocks. Liquid feedstocks will be dependent on future oil prices and other routes to petrochemicals will be subject to scrutiny and assessed according to their technical and environmental safety and feasibility.

The Middle East faces increased global economic challenges, dynamic market conditions and pressure to reduce time-to-market. By implementing cutting edge software, refining and petrochemicals companies will improve feedstock selection, so users can integrate crude assay libraries and links to LP planning tools for better crude selection, planning and scheduling of operations - all in an effort to maximise plant performance and business profitability.

- 35% this much of incremental feedstock for petchem production will come from refineries.


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Oil & Gas Middle East - September 2020

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