July 2015


HP Editorial Comment: Courage amid challenge and change

Editorial commentary

Romanow, Stephany, Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

Working in the downstream requires tremendous courage. Why courage? It does not mean HPI staff have no fear. Actually, it is quite the contrary. The downstream industry must manage risk at many levels that can be interpreted as almost fearful.

Why try?

Why work in an industry that is constantly challenged by governments and regulatory agencies? For many, it is rewarding to overcome obstacles and to create products that have, and continue to, revolutionize society.

Today’s society was created through the development of transportation fuels and combustion engines. With both advancements, goods and people became more mobile, thus further developing commerce domestically and internationally.

Room for all

Some critics hold the thought that oil and natural gas-based fuels and products have outlived their usefulness, and that society should switch to renewable fuels and plastics.

Open-minded thinking supports the argument that there is room for all products. Research and development is warranted to identify and investigate alternative products as part of sustainable development for the long term. What is undermining, if not destructive, is the support of regulations that mandate conversion to alternative fuels before such products have been thoroughly developed and can compete in the marketplace without subsidies and penalizing regulations.

In the US, the battle to oust crude oil-based transportation fuels continues. For many years, critics of big oil have waged a war against transportation fuels under the guise of saving the planet and the people. This is a harsh viewpoint. Over the past two decades, transportation fuels have been over-regulated under the premise of protecting the public and ensuring energy security.

‘When the going gets tough...’

Such conditions require courage by members of downstream companies to knowingly face these challenges and continue to develop viable solutions. What if Thomas Edison had quit working to find the proper filament for the light bulb after the first few failures? For the most part, society would have remained in the dark, thus hindering the beginning of the industrial revolution.

In the US, outdated laws such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) keep the refining business in the dark. Over the years, HP has commented on environmental and safety issues for transportation fuels and petrochemical products through the Insight and Editorial columns. As a member of the HP editorial team for over 23 years, it has been my responsibility to develop these columns to comment on pressing issues for the downstream industry. A quick review of my past editorials yields a unique trend: Without fail, the downstream rallies to overcome numerous obstacles presented by changing economic cycles, regulations and technological developments.

There is no single solution to the topic of clean transportation fuels. Energy supplies are a political and social issue in addition to being a profitability concern. Many parties are involved, thus further complicating viable solutions to meet the demands of all stakeholders.

Change requires courage

Many challenges remain to be solved by the talented individuals working in this industry. It has been my great pleasure to share updates and present new ideas through past editorials. More importantly, it has been an honor to serve as an editor on the HP staff for the past 23 years.

As with other downstream companies, HP is also undergoing a crew change as I retire from the HP team. I thank the numerous readers and members of the downstream community for their support of HP over the past two decades, and wish great success to all. HP

The Author

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