(80a) Refinery Residue and Bitumen Upgrading:Gasification

Abazajian, A., Advisian
Sloley, A. W., Advisian (WorleyParsons Group)
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has driven changes in sulfur oxides emissions allowed from sea-going vessels. The MARPOL agreement Annex VI formalizes these changes. The coming step is the January 1, 2020 target of 0.5 weight percent sulfur maximum as a world-wide limit. Multiple strategies are available to meet this target. Basic approaches include;

  • fuel substitution, for example, switching to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
  • fuel upgrading, for example, purchasing desulfurized residual oil.
  • power plant switching, for example, conversion to electric power.
  • post-combustion treating, for example, sulfur oxides removal in the exhaust gases.

These changes affect multiple players in the bunker fuel market. Refiners, blenders, traders, terminals, ship owners, and ship charters will all have to change their operations. Regardless of the final, new equilibrium of markets, many refiners will be forced to remove sulfur from their residue streams.

In previous iterations of removing sulfur oxides due to residue combustion, refiners have focused on five approaches.

  • Finding alternate dispositions that don’t required desulfurization.
  • Discounting to make post-combustion sulfur removal attractive.
  • Residual hydrotreating.
  • Delayed coking and selling coke (with high sulfur) as a product.

This presentation covers the following:

  • A brief introduction to the problem.
  • Previous history with residue desulfurization (in the 1970s).
  • Outline of the benefits of gasification for the refinery.
  • Extension of gasification to other heavy streams (bitumen).
  • Downstream value chain-integration with fuel and petrochemical products.
  • Possible future directions.


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