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 2002:
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 alone.
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 measurement policy.
Shells Scotford refinery
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Hydrocarbon
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, September 1992:
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 fuel requirements.
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 MeOH demand.
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, September 1982:
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 minimums.
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 products.
Headlines from Hydrocarbon Processing, August 1972:
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 more.
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 1971.
|Major units are under construction at Gulf Oil |
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.