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A wealth of knowledge at AFPM annual meeting

05.01.2012  |  Thinnes, Billy,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX

Keywords: [AFPM] [NPRA] [annual meeting] [show daily] [refining] [petrochemicals] [manufacturing]

At March’s American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM, formerly known as the NPRA) annual meeting in San Diego, California, it seems everyone had some important knowledge to share. Nowhere was this more evident than in the technical sessions, which covered many issues relevant to refiners. Hydrocarbon Processing was privileged to produce the official show daily newspaper for the event. We have assembled information on some of the more standout presentations.

Maximizing diesel production

Phillip Niccum, KBR, spoke about maximizing diesel production in the FCC-centered refinery. One of Mr. Niccum’s key points examined how FCC-based refinery diesel production can be maximized while taking advantage of existing FCC assets. The simple answer is to avoid the loss of virgin distillate to the FCC feedstock and to maximize the production of hydroprocessed LCO and diesel synthesized from the oligomerization of lower boiling FCC olefins.

Mr. Niccum indicated that after a refiner has taken the steps necessary to minimize the loss of straight-run diesel to the FCC feedstock, some FCC operating adjustments can be commonly applied in the interest of increasing refinery diesel production. These include a lower FCC naphtha endpoint; increased FCC catalyst matrix activity and lower rare earth/hydrogen transfer activity; and a maximized LCO endpoint.

While these are somewhat commonly applied strategies, Mr. Niccum also advocated two other approaches. The first is to reduce FCC cracking severity, allowing for maximized LCO production, while taking action, if need be to mitigate the associated loss of FCC naphtha octane and LPG production. The second would be to increase FCC cracking severity to maximize the production of lower-molecular-weight olefinic products from the FCC unit and oligomerize these olefins to produce high-quality synthetic diesel.

CO2 capture project

The technical and economic results from Air Products’ CO2 capture project in Port Arthur, Texas, will be critical to determining the most effective commercialization path for future projects, according to Bill Baade, an Air Products official involved with the project.

“As of now, the existing CO2 market does not support current CO2 capture economics without external funding,” he said.

Because of that, the Air Products project was accomplished via $284 million in funding from the US Department of Energy, which represents about 66% of the overall cost, Mr. Baade said.

When complete, CO2 captured from hydrogen steam methane reformers (SMRs) at Valero’s refinery in Port Arthur will be compressed and purified, then sent to Denbury for injection into Texas oil fields for enhanced oil recovery. Mechanical construction began in January 2012. One plant is expected to start up in late 2012 and the other unit in 2013.

Predictive analytics

Refinery and plant operators are increasingly using predictive analytics when it comes to safety and operational risk management. Those were the thoughts of Mark Weitner, global leader of operational risk management at Connecticut-based IBM Global Business Services.

Mr. Weitner applauded the industry, saying predictive analytics are emerging as an important technique to identify organizational, operational and safety risk factors. Moreover, those analytics are becoming core to companies’ performance management programs, he said.

“We’re seeing a natural progression of using the increasingly sophisticated tools available,” Mr. Weitner said. “It’s especially become more common in the chemicals and petroleum industry in areas like predictive maintenance.”

Distinguished Safety Awards

AFPM’s most prestigious safety award is presented annually to the member company facilities that have attained a superior level of safety performance in the refining and petrochemical manufacturing industries. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee comprised of members of the AFPM Safety and Health Committee. Winners will also be recognized at a dinner in San Antonio, Texas, as part of the AFPM National Occupational and Process Safety Conference. This year’s award winners are:

• ConocoPhillips’ Santa Maria facility located in Arroyo Grande, California
• The Michigan refining division of Marathon Petroleum
• Valero Energy’s refinery in Houston, Texas. HP
—With reporting from Ben DuBose

  AFPM Chairman Jim Mahoney presents Layne
  Riggs of Valero Energy with a safety award.

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