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New era in refining — Keys to sustenance

09.01.2011  |  Krishnamurthy, S.,  KBR, New Delhi, IndiaSubramanian, A.,  KBR, Houston, Texas

Changes in feedstocks, environmental rules can alter past and future process investments, profitability

Keywords: [hydrocracking] [refining] [coking] [shale gas coke] [profit] [slurry phase] [hydrogen]

With the continuing change in global economics, geopolitical realities and environmental regulations, coupled with the relentless emphasis and pressure on short-term financial performance, the refining industry now finds itself at a crossroads that will eventually determine its very future. The genesis of crude oil and refining dates back to a Mesopotamian writ from almost 2,000 years ago—“strange wells near the caravan road do not contain water but liquid earth. A man there boils the earth until it becomes water, which makes torches burn brighter.” Since pre-historic times, crude oil and crude oil refining have been arguably the single largest contributors to the development of mankind and they still remain the beacon of hope for the future. While the emerging alternate energy sources have recently found great favor, statistical evidence suggests that these alternatives will only have a small impact on the growing energy demand. Most projections suggest that fossil fuels will still dominate the energy supply-demand chain in the future (Fig. 1). With demand growth now stimulated by a large population segment aspiring for a better quality of life, it is somewhat ironic that this industry faces a difficult financial climate.

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