(258d) Crude Oil-to-Chemical Conceptual Design

Authors: 
Sloley, A. W., Advisian (WorleyParsons Group)
Improving oil recovery technology has shifted attention away from concerns about peak oil supply[1]. With projections of increasing adoption of electric powered transportation vehicles, some oil producers now worry about peak oil demand. Depending upon your future view, oil demand will peak between ~2020 through 2050. At that point, countries with some of the largest oil reserves will still have ample available supplies. Full crude oil-to-chemicals (COTC) conversion is one approach to maintain demand for crude oil rather than abandoning it and losing the value of the remaining reserves.

CTOC produces non-fuels products from crude oil. Process routes involved can include combining existing refining and petrochemical units or developing new separation and conversion technologies.

Processing capacities will be large to meet economic targets imposed by economies of scale. The processing sequences involved require multiple steps. The combination will require large investments. Skillful conceptual design and layout of the overall CTOC has the potential for dramatic capital savings. Conceptual design of integrated CTOC complexes requires mastering three areas of knowledge:

  • Define the starting point. What is crude oil? What are the variations in crude oil? What molecules are present?
  • Define the destination. What are the products desired? What properties do they have? What shifts in product quality and composition can the market accept?
  • Define the path. What are the routes from the feed to the product? What is the current technology status? What enabling processes are required? How can existing technologies and developing technologies be combined?

The presentation will examine these three areas and outline approaches that can be used in conceptual design.

[1] Hubbert’s peak oil concepts.