Maximizing the energy potential from all hydrocarbon
resources is the main goal for all nations. More efficient
utilization of energynatural gas, coal and crude
oilfacilitates economic growth. As shown in the headlines
from the last 90 years of Hydrocarbon Processing,
progress comes in leaps and bounds, and too often, is followed
an economic crisis.
Natural gas has
always been part of the energy and economic equation. In the
early days, this hydrocarbon was originally
stripped to obtain the natural-gasoline components
that were blended into transportation fuels. Now natural gas is
a major segment of the global energy mix; its application has
morphed as better methods to use this hydrocarbon developed for
power generation and transportation fuels.
News about shale oil and shale gas were published back in
the 1950s. However, technologies to extract and to process
shale oil needed time to advance, as now witnessed in current
media. The hydrocarbon processing industry has and
continues to attract great talent to unravel the present-day
energy problems. New solutions are investigated and researched
to discover energy resources for tomorrow.
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, September
Proactive strategies needed to improve petrochemical profits. A
recent analysis by SRI Consulting concludes that this industry
continues to struggle from poor planning over the past five
years. By early 2001, fewer new petrochemical plants were under
construction. Likewise, large,
high-cost producers have shut down. The global petrochemical
industry has begun the supply-side rationalization process.
Strategies for long-term survival over the next 10 years by
global petrochemical producers will involve: 1) Better integration and more flexibility in
feedstock selection, 2) Building
plants to capitalize on economy of scale 3) Investing in new
technologies, 4) Rationalizing or consolidating high-cost
operations and 5) Developing new products and processes.
Middle East emerging as dominant force in
polypropylene production. Processing capacity of
polypropylene (PP) is set to explode over the next five years
in the Middle East and Africa regions. Approximately 3 million
metric tons of new PP capacity will be built in the Middle East
NSR update. In June 2002, The US Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) announced plans to modify the Clean Air Acts New
Source Review (NSR) program. EPA recommended changes on the
clarification for routine repairs and replacement.
The second set of changes will focus on emission
Shells Scotford refinery
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Hydrocarbon
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, September
Natural gas makes an impact on the HPI.
Natural gas (NG) continues to increase its role as a plant
fuel, petrochemical feedstock, competitor for distillate
markets and a motor fuel. The NG supply/demand and pricing
trends are important to refiners and petrochemical
manufacturers. In 1992, NG prices remained lowaveraging
$1.06 MMBtuand failed to climb during the winter heating
season. The Energy Information Agency believes that NG
consumption will increase 5.5%/yr.
Hydrogen supplies a major focus for
refiners. Hydrogen supply is becoming critical as the
refining industry adjusts to new
environmental regulations and market-driven factors. In Europe, growing demand for
methyl-tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to sustain higher octane
needs due to the lead phase-out will require more hydrogen. In
the US, gasoline reformulation and tough diesel specifications
will require refiners to also consume more hydrogen. Growing
demand for better quality gasoline is placing more pressure on
available hydrogen supplies. Approximately 3.6 Tcf of hydrogen
is consumed in the US, with the refining industry responsible
for half of the hydrogen consumption. With the upcoming changes
in the gasoline blending pool, the US refining market will need
an additional 1.4 Tcf of hydrogen to meet new clean
Methanol demand to grow rapidly
through 1996. Methanol (MeOH) is forecast to be one
of the fastest growing petrochemicals over the next five
years. Increased blending of MTBE in gasoline has radically
changed MeOH demand patterns. Oxygenate (MTBE) production will
account for 60% of the MeOH consumption in the US market. A
recent rebound in the formaldehyde market is also increasing
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, September
Third oil crisis is likely before 1990.
Energy champion and economist, Dr. Daniel Yergin has released a
new book based on a four-year international research project at Harvard entitled:
Global in security, a strategy for energy. Dr. Yergin
believes a third oil crisis is likely before 1990, and oil
prices will double by 2000. (Oil prices averaged between
$27.66/bbl to $33.56/bbl in July 1982.) These trends are based
on rising demand for petroleum and economic recovery.
US refining capacity increasing. According
to the American Petroleum Institute (API), US crude oil distillation capacity is forecast to
increase to 17.7 million bpd (MMbpd) by March 1983; it is a
227,000 bbl increase over reported 1981 distillation capacity.
The API survey also indicated that 2.3 MMbpd of the US capacity
was shut down in March 1982about 12.5% of the US
distillation capacity. The increase reflects new refineries and
expansion projects under
construction and expected to be complete by year end.
Acid rain: A growing controversy. Efforts
continue to define acid rain. The new debate
focuses on EPAs efforts to roll back sulfur dioxide and
nitrogen oxide emissions. It is estimated that the
new environmental rules will cost
billions to implement. In addition, the US Congress is
reauthorizing the Clean Water Act (CWA) to meet second stage
treatment requirements by 1984. Questions still exist on best
available technology (BAT) for water
treatment. Over 90% of the US chemical industry met the CWA of
1977 rules. Nearly all major industries have reduced discharges
of conventional pollutants into navigable waters to practical
European petrochemical industry looks for
upturn. Europes petrochemical industry should
improve compared to 1981 growth numbers. Yet, many structural
problems continue for this industry. Lack of integration continues to plague the
European market, especially in
taxation, safety standards, and environment and health
protection. European petrochemical producers are at a
disadvantage when compared to US and Japanese producers.
Europes present economic systems do not support
investment. In addition, studies show that bulk-chemical
production now exceeds local demand. For example, Europes
plastic industry suffers from 40% over-capacity production.
National expansions have collectively
overshot regional demand. The European chemical industry needs
structural reorganization to eliminate overcapacity and
investment to further develop high-value specialty
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, August
1972 Refining Processes
Handbook. HP publishes
its technology focus handbook regarding
the advances in licensed refining processes. Over 100 processes
are included in this handbook with 15% of the process as new
developments since the 1970 edition. Licensing companies
participating in this handbook include: BP Trading Inc.,
Edeleanu GmbH, Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals Co., Esso
Research and Engineering Co., Houdry, Hydrocarbon Research
Inc., Institut Français du Pétrole, Standard Oil
Co. (Indiana), Texaco, Union Oil Co. of California, UOP and
Oil company performance lack luster in
1972. US demand for crude oil during the first half of
1972 averaged 46 million bpd (MMbpd)a 6% increase over
1971. Oil demand in the US is growing due to a shortage of
natural gas and a conversion to oil from other energy resources
due to environmental concerns. Free-world crude oil production
averaged 41 MMbpdabout 1.1% higher than 1971 production
levels. Environmental factors caused a
reduction in the output of high-sulfur crudes from Venezuela.
Earnings by the petroleum industry declined 14% in response to
low oil prices and higher taxes.
Update on oil industry statistics. The US
Bureau of Mines released its latest report on the US refining
industry. On January 1, 1972, 282 refineries were operating
with a total crude distillation capacity of 13.4 million bpd.
The total number of refineries increased by three, and distillation capacity increased by
417,000 bpd, or 3.2%. The change revealed that two refineries
were dismantled and five new refineries came onstream during
|Major units are under
construction at Gulf
Canadas new 80,000-bpd refinery at
Edmonton. The new units will replace the
existing 14,000-bpd facility. The revamp
includes new alkylation and deisohexanizer
units. Hydrocarbon Processing 1970.
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing and
Petroleum Refiner, September 1962:
Oil-shale plant to restart. The US
Department of the Interior (DOI) is investigating the
feasibility of restarting the Rifle, Colorado, shale oil
facility, which has been shut down since 1955. The
investigation is prompted by improved economic production
methods of oil from shale. Congress must approve funding to
restore the plant; the DOI would operate the facility or seek
an outside organization.
Synthetic rubber production reaches new
high. In 1962, synthetic rubber (SR) production topped
out at 110,000 long tons/monthaccounting for 70% of all
rubber consumed. SR has replaced natural rubber in many
applications. New polymerspolyisoprene, polybutadiene and
ethylene-propylenecomprise 10% of the rubber market.
A new look at gasification. In a statement
by the Institute of Gas Technology (IGT), more than half of
future US energy demand will met by coal and high-grade oil
shale. The future recovery of high-Btu pipeline gas is
estimated at 185 MM bpda heating value of 1,000 billion
Mcf. Coal reserves have a value of about 17,000 million Mcf
natural gas equivalent, and processes are under development for
the conversion of coal to methanenatural gas main
component. IGT is discussing the development of Lurgis
coal gasification process to be used in a planned $55-million
facility. The US DOI awarded a $1.2-million grant to Spencer
Chemical to fund research for a first-step process on coal refining.
|The North Rincon
Gasoline plant raises a
97-ft absorption oil still column. The facility
has a design capacity of 35 Mcfd. The new
facility is part of the Shell Oil Co. and Cities
Services Oil Co. project. Hydrocarbon
Processing and Petroleum Refiner
Fractionating (splitter) column is being
lowered on to its foundation. The new splitter
part of Chemplexs new ethylene plant
construction at Clinton, Iowa. The 218-ft long
and 12-ft diameter column is the tallest column
in the complex. Hydrocarbon Processing
Headlines from Petroleum Refiner, September 1952:
1952 Process section. The editors of the
Petroleum Refiner complete the first refining, natural
gasoline and petrochemical processing handbook.
It features the leading technologies available to the hydrocarbon processing industry. Advances
in refining technologies focus on producing higher octane
gasoline for modern automobiles. Catalytic cracking with moving
(fluid) bed is among the latest developments. Catalytic
alkylation and polymerization are among the refining process
units under construction. Other new processes highlighted in
this handbook include ethylene and aromatics.
Construction news: Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. is
planning a 100,000-bpd refinery at the Port of Aden on the Red
Sea. The estimated capital for the new refinery is between $
112 million to $140 million. It is forecast that it will take
two years to build the new refinery. This facility will supply
refined products to the Red Sea and East and South Africa.
Standard Oil of California will build a 36,000-bpd catalytic
cracking unit at the El Segundo refinery. The new cracker will
convert heavy fuel oil into aviation gasolines and high-grade
automobile fuels. Cost for unit is estimated to exceed $20
million, and the project should be completed and onstream by
Union Oil Co. of California has award Fluor the construction
project for a new vacuum distillation unit at its Los
Angeles, California refinery. This project includes two
crude-topping units and will raise crude capacity from 70,000
bpd to 110,000 bpd.
|New column being
raised at the Stanlow
(Chershire) refinery. The 240-ton and
170-ft long column was constructed by
Babcock & Wilcox at the Renfrew works.
Construction at the refinery will be completed
by January 1952. Petroleum Refiner 1951.
|A 75-ton prefabricated steel column
by barge to be installed at the Tidewater
Oil Cos Flying A refinery near Wilmington,
Delaware. The column is a gasoline splitter
to be installed at the refinerys gas plant.
Petroleum Refiner 1956.
|Side view of the new superheaters
constructed at the Neches Butane Products
Port Neches, Texas facility. Petroleum
Headlines from Petroleum Refiner, September 1942:
More plants to process butadiene. The
butadiene program was altered in August 1942 to permit using
more existing equipment. The action will allow more companies
to provide much needed supplies of butadiene. Technological
development by the refining industry permitted this change to
increase butadiene production. New refining methods such as
thermal cracking of gasoline, catalytic dehydrogenation and
catalytic cracking are providing more needed petrochemicals and 100-octane
aviation fuels for the war effort. New designated butadiene facilities will also be constructed.
Using existing facilities will provide the nuclei
to advance the program.
War effort impacts income of US refiners.
Early reports show that refineries in Districts 1, 2 and 3 are
facing income losses as high as $35,000/day due to processing
changes to produce refined products for the war effort. Eastern
refiners are having difficulties and they are forecast to
experience a hard winter. Likewise, fuel rationing targets have
not been met. The government is investigating more measures to
support fuels needs for the armed forces as well as for
Headlines from The Refiner and Natural Gasoline
Manufacturer, September 1932:
Michigan refinery applies automatic
control. The Pure Oil Co.s Midland, Michigan
refinery was recently completed. The 3,500-bpd refinery uses
automatic control on all process units with improved refining
operations designed by Alco Products Co.
New absorber extracts propane. Skelly Oil
Co. has developed a new absorber, trade named the
Skelgas. This absorber promotes propane extraction
with a two-tower fractionation process.
Headlines from The Refiner and Natural Gasoline
Manufacturer, April 1923:
New process for gasoline absorption from natural
gas. The Newton process is an absorption method.
Distinguishable features of this process include ease of
operations, economy in construction and low operating costs.
Four units are now operating. This process is very adaptable.
It can manufacture gasoline from natural gas and is an ideal
process to recovery gasoline from uncondensed still vapors of
New construction: Texhoma Oil
and Refining Co. plans to install four
Dubbs stills at its North Texas facility. The new units will
crack 2,000 bpd of crude into fuel oil and distillates. When
complete, this facility will have the largest processing
capacity in North Texas.
Waite Phillips to use Cross units at Okmulgee. The Waite
Phillips Co. will install two Cross cracking stills at its
Oklahoma refinery. The new cracking units
will process low-gravity crude along with high-gravity crudes.
Plant capacity will increase from 3,000 bbl to 5,000 bbl. Cost
for the project is estimated at $300,000.