(242a) Mitigating Risks for Refiners Processing Opportunity Crudes

Authors: 
Olsen, T., Emerson Automation Solutions
The refining industry has changed noticeably over the past several years with an ample supply of opportunity crude oils available, which include light tight oils and heavy sour crudes, and sometimes high TAN crudes. Opportunity crudes have been around for years, but only until recently has the abundance of these discounted crudes shifted the behavior of refiners.

With the use of opportunity crude oils comes new processing challenges; Automation technology is advancing to meet these challenges to ensure refiners are successfully alleviating these new issues. Advances in real time crude analysis and crude unit monitoring and control allow refiners to maximize opportunity crude processing while mitigating issues like accelerated fouling and corrosion.

Refiners on the coast will typically have access to more opportunity crudes and can process 50 or more different crude oils in a year. Because crude oils can be very different in properties, refiners try to match the required crude oil composition for their refinery configuration; usually by blending two or more crude oils. To make matters more challenging, sometimes crude oils purchased to process are crudes that the refiner has no experience processing.

Crude blending operation has become more important with the ability to establish consistent crude feed properties. Steady operation enables better optimization of the crude unit by pushing against the appropriate constraints which often includes maximizing the quantity of discounted opportunity crude oils blended.

This presentation will highlight several refiners that have made modifications to effectively process opportunity crudes while mitigating risks related to crude incompatibilities, high TAN crudes, and varying crude oil feed properties.