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Oil refiners discuss residue upgrading as a route to increasing margins

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The consequences of a low crude price impacts major investment projects for many companies. Some economies are more vulnerable to low crude prices such as those that are highly dependent on oil-associated revenues, especially in the area of export. The selection of investment projects to increase margins often includes upgrading the bottom of the barrel or residue upgrading, which is the processing of vacuum and other heavy residues to higher value products.

?The Middle East & Africa edition of the Bottom of the Barrel Technology Conference (BBTC) organised by Euro Petroleum Consultants will take place in Bahrain this year under the Patronage of His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil of the Kingdom of Bahrain. “It gives us great pleasure to announce that BBTC Middle East & Africa 2016 will take place under the Patronage of His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa” said Colin Chapman, President of Euro Petroleum Consultants. “BBTC is currently the only event that focuses on technologies, project trends, catalysts and equipment innovations as residue upgrading becomes increasingly important to our industry and in this region” he continued.

Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) is the strategic partner for this high level conference, which sets out to address the issues facing refiners and provide them with an opportunity to study the optimum configuration and technologies available to best fit their local and export market.

It is recognised that technology selection is a crucial issue and the BBTC Conference is the ideal forum to understand present developments in order to reduce risks on future projects. Steve Beeston from Amec Foster Wheeler, who will be presenting at the event said, “Residue upgrading projects are expensive so in order to minimise project risk one should consider commercially proven technologies”.

So how will residue upgrading technologies evolve in the next few years? Ashok Krishna, President of Chevron Energy Technology Company said,“I see the advent of slurry Hydrocracking in the next decade, with several commercial units.” His advice to those considering a residue upgrading project would be “to focus on source and cost of hydrogen. All residue upgrading technologies consume a lot of hydrogen, and hydrogen costs – which vary widely from region to region – could make or break a project.”

?Many are asking how the current uncertainty regarding crude oil price is affecting today’s residue upgrading options and decisions. Süleyman Özmen, Vice President, Refining and Chemical Licensing at Shell Global Solutions shares the following view: “What is always certain, is that those refiners with higher complexity and a higher conversion capability will always achieve higher margins at any crude price. The incentive is, therefore, to continue investing in higher upgrading.” Ashok Krishna added, “we actually see refiners showing more interest in residue hydroprocessing since their feedstock costs have been halved.”

The conference will take place on 26 - 27 October at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manama. For more information, please visit

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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