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Reforming capacity to grow in China

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

China’s reforming capacity will grow by 400 000 bpd in 2018, displacing more than 100 000 bpd of the country’s mixed aromatics imports, according to ESAI Energy’s newly published ‘China Gasoline Production and Blending to 2020 Watch.’ After 2019, additional investment will fully wean China’s gasoline producers from these imports.

ESAI Energy’s new analysis and projections detail how China’s changing fuel standards and changes in the way gasoline is produced will affect China’s mixed aromatics imports and the markets for other gasoline blending components. In response to the China VI-A gasoline standard, which will take effect in January 2019, China’s refining sector is undergoing a wave of investment in reformer, alkylation, isomerisation, and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) units. In 1Q18 alone, three units with a total capacity of 80 000 bpd were commissioned at two ChemChina refineries and Sinopec Maoming. By the end of the year, another 15 projects are scheduled for completion, bringing total reforming capacity to more than 2 million bpd. By the end of 2020, there could be 3 million bpd of capacity.

Yao Wu at ESAI Energy said: “More domestic reformate will enter the blending pool […] Yet, due to changes in how gasoline is produced, producers will not need more reformate to produce gasoline. Thus, with or without the introduction of a new consumption tax on mixed aromatics imports, mixed aromatics imports will plummet.

“Changes to how China produces gasoline also have knock-on consequences for China’s imports of the blending components and the feedstock needed to make them […] Imports of mixed aromatics will fall, but demand for other feedstocks will climb. For example, alkylation and MTBE units have bullish consequences for the country’s butane use."

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