VERONA, Italy -- Improved collaboration with upstream
operators is necessary for modern refiners to adapt to
changing crude slates, according to two downstream executives
with Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC).
Ahmad al Majed, team leader of process engineering at KNPC,
delivered a presentation in the refining
track of the 2014
In his remarks, he outlined a road map for designing and
maintaining a heavy crude refinery
"In the past, refiners typically chose sweet and light crudes
to avoid configuration complexity," al-Majed said. "But such
choices are becoming limited now. Crudes are trending
heavier, due to pricing and a general lack of availability.
The KNPC leader went on to say that the 21st century "belongs
to heavy crudes", with increased production from tar sands as
For refiners to adapt to heavier crudes, communication with
upstream operators could be essential, he said. This includes
understanding production plans by year and field, as well as
organizing for test wells and sampling per blend.
Another step KNPC is taking is regular study work on the
revised crude slates. The company currently has plans to
undertake those studies in 2015, 2020 and 2025.
"Knowing your crudes well is the name of the game," al-Majed
Going forward, KNPC says it will continue to examine
characterization of crude and untreated products through
continuous lab analysis while also developing the capability
to addess catalysts for ARDs/DHTs through pilot plants.
An additional challenge is to better understand a new heavy
crude known as HC-2, on which production has yet to start and
data availability is limited. But with more of HC-2 to be
processed in the future, more coordination with the upstream
"Refiners are forced to design for heavy crudes out of
necessity," al-Majed said.
Refiners should also undertake revamp studies after every 3
or 4 years of operation, he said, and be prepared to
implement revamps as needed.
"Heavier crudes generally are expected to have more of
sulfur, metals and asphaltenes compared to lighter crudes,
making them difficult candidates for handling and
processing," he said. "Hence, the need is for us to
differently design the refineries."