July 2016

Columns

Refining: Tackle operational challenges in refining unconventional crudes

Fuel refineries in earlier decades would preferentially process light sweet crudes, for the right price, to maximize gasoline and distillate production and to meet sulfur specifications with less cost.

Andrew, Bob, Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

Fuel refineries in earlier decades would preferentially process light sweet crudes, for the right price, to maximize gasoline and distillate production and to meet sulfur specifications with less cost. Then geopolitical impacts on global crude supply created a price differential for less expensive heavy sour crudes. Billions were invested within the US on upgrades to metallurgies to handle acidic crude components; in hydroprocessing units to meet stricter sulfur and other quality specifications; and in delayed coking units for added value. More recently, however, we see the rise in unconventional crude oil. Fig. 1. US tight oil production, selected plays, 2

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