February 2019

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Editorial Comment: The materials that advance modern life

Refineries and petrochemical plants contain some of the harshest environments on the planet.

Nichols, Lee, Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

Refineries and petrochemical plants contain some of the harshest environments on the planet. Processing units are subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures, as well as highly corrosive environments. As a result, it is imperative that these units are built of materials that are able to handle such environments.

FIG. 1. Total downstream capital investments by region, 2018–2030.
FIG. 1. Total downstream capital investments by region, 2018–2030

And it does not stop at just corrosivity. New techniques, products and digital applications are helping refiners and petrochemical producers monitor items such as vibration, temperature, flowrate, asset integrity and utilization. Products such as analyzers can dissect the characteristics of plant feedstocks—such as crude oil—faster than ever before. These examples are providing HPI companies with a means to achieve safer and more efficient operations, while increasing energy efficiency and abating emissions.

The advancements in materials manufacturing will continue to provide safer and more efficient operations for downstream producers. According to Hydrocarbon Processing’s Construction Boxscore Database, more than 1,300 downstream processing projects are active around the world. These projects represent more than $1.8 T in capital investments to 2030 (FIG. 1). According to Hydrocarbon Processing’s HPI Market Data 2019, more than 70% of active projects are within the refining and petrochemical industries:

  • Gas processing/LNG—29% (383 projects)
  • Petrochemical—35% (468 projects)
  • Refining—36% (469 projects).

As disposable income increases in regions such as Asia, demand for transportation fuels and petrochemical products is forecast to increase. This not only includes convenient items such as electronic devices and household items, but also products that go into life-saving equipment, provide safe drinking water and ensure sustainable food sources. The HPI provides products that advance modern living and drive commerce—literally and figuratively. HP

 

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