Automation Solutions for Processing Light Tight (Shale) Oil

Fuels and Petrochemicals Division
AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
April 2, 2014 - 4:30pm-5:00pm

Opportunity crudes from shale are more readily available in North America with incentives on cost. However, these typically lighter crude oils don’t come without some processing challenges.  Some of the challenges include high variability in API gravity, H2S entrained in the crude, paraffin waxes, crude incompatibilities from blending, and balancing the intermediate cut point yields for downstream utilization.  Fouling and heat exchanger monitoring is one of the biggest changes in operations.  Many refiners use a spreadsheet with monthly calculations, and then manual checks on individual bundles prior to a turnaround to determine if cleaning is required.  The traditional approach to monitor heat exchanger fouling through spreadsheets with manual entry of temperatures that are not in the DCS makes it difficult to identify which crude blends are incompatible, thus the same condition for accelerated fouling may likely be repeated in the future.

This presentation will show what refiners are doing with automation to process light tight oils, especially when blended to match the plant capabilities and market demands.

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