Today the most important challenge facing the downstream industry is related to the dramatic drop in refinery margins because of a decline in global oil consumption and changes in demand patterns for refined products.
In the coming years, the current trend in bottom of the barrel reduction will continue to require new technologies that are able to cope with the overall refined products demand that is clearly moving toward higher quality fuels, with middle distillate spreads likely to maintain a premium over gasoline and light/heavy crude oil spreads are projected to increase towards 2015.
Moreover, in the last few years, energy policies have adapted to a changing context and refiners have to look at ways to process alternative lower cost crude oils.
Definitely, technologies for the optimum use of residues and extra heavy crude are among these topics for at least two reasons. One to exploit our oil resources efficiently in an environmentally sustainable way; two to increase the profitability of the refining system by increasing their feedstock flexibility.
While delayed coking has been the technology of choice in the past, this option is going to be more and more hindered by low yields and poor quality distillate products and low grade coke productions. Today a hydrogen addition route is likely to be the right choice for refineries due to higher conversion, high diesel selectivity and Euro V grade products.
However, conventional hydrocracking solutions like fixed bed and ebullated bed technologies, suffer from limitations on feedstock quality as well as problems related to residue stability that limits the maximum conversion achievable.
In response to the needs for increased distillate yield and residue conversion, eni has developed a new proprietary technology, EST. This slurry hydrocracking technology makes use of nano sized hydrogenation catalysts and an innovative process scheme, which allows complete feedstock conversion to valuable distillates, avoiding the production of residual byproducts, such as pet coke or heavy fuel oil.
EST has been successfully tested on pilot and demonstration scales. Following the positive results obtained, eni took the decision to build, at the Sannazzaro refinery, the first full scale industrial plant based on EST technology. This unit (23 000 bpd capacity) enables the refinery to convert bottom of the barrel into high quality diesel and other valuable refinery streams (LPG, naphtha, jet fuel, catfeed). EST represents a proven technology solution to reduce fuel oil production in both new and existing refineries; moreover, due to the extremely high feedstock flexibility, EST can be successfully applied to very low quality crude oils such as heavy and extra heavy oils and oilsands bitumen.
EST configuration incorporates the most advanced technical solutions deriving from the experience achieved in more than seven years continuous tests and operation at the 1200 bpd demonstration plant at eni’s Taranto refinery. Many innovations have been brought to the project, from some special items to up to date construction methodologies, which have made extensive use of preassembling of large structures, foundations and even process heaters. Reactors of maximum size in terms of internal diameter and weight have been installed to set a sound reference for future industrial initiatives.
Eni will be presenting full details and findings on this technology at the ERTC 18th Annual Meeting taking place in Budapest, 19th – 21st November 2013. To book your place at the conference please visit www.gtforum.com/ertc-annual-meeting.
Read the article online at: https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/gas-processing/10102013/the_last_word737/