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Chinese refiners look to get more out of every barrel of oil

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Chinese refiners are looking to get more product out of every barrel of oil, especially the hard to refine bottom of the barrel residue, over the next decade, according to a comprehensive survey of both state-owned and independent Chinese refiners conducted on behalf of Honeywell UO.

The industry survey of managers and technical engineers was conducted by Chem1, a Beijing-based firm specialising in providing consulting services to the refining and petrochemical industries. The survey found that interest in upgrading technology is driven by a refiner's need to better process heavy crude oil and get more useable, high value products such as transportation fuel from every barrel.

"China is the world's largest importer of crude oil. Getting more useable products from each barrel is critical to their operations, especially as they seek to take advantage of low-priced heavy crude, which is significantly harder to refine," said Zhiming Huang, general manager of Honeywell UOP in China. "Coupling that challenge with increasingly stringent fuel and emission standards, Chinese refineries are hungry for a breakthrough technology to enable more profitable operations by finding more 'gold' in the bottom of every barrel."

Survey highlights:

  • Each of the 150 respondents said residue upgrading technologies are of great importance to their current business and that upgrading crude residue will remain a top priority in the next decade.
  • Respondents expect profitability to increase significantly after upgrading to residue processing technology.
  • Of those surveyed, 83% said the need to upgrade heavy crude oil and improve conversion of light oil was a driving factor in their interest in upgrading technology.
  • Respondents were asked which products they prefer to manufacture in higher quantities. 100% of respondents chose gasoline and diesel, which help improve the profitability and level up cost pressure of the enterprise.
  • The majority of respondents believe hydrotreating and hydrocracking are the best technology routes to process crude residue at Chinese refineries. Most also said they were not optimistic about the future prospects of traditional delayed coking processes due to their lower light oil yield, high output of lower value coke and overall lower economic benefits.

Honeywell UOP is a leader in process technology, catalysts, adsorbents, equipment and services to the petroleum refining, petrochemical and gas processing industries, and its technology is used extensively in China. Honeywell UOP offers a range of upgrading technologies, including the UOP RCD Unionfining™ process and the Resid FCC process. In 2008, the company introduced its newest bottom of the barrel residue upgrading technology, UOP Uniflex™ technology, which can convert more than 90% of the bottom of the barrel to high value transportation fuels.

Chem1 interviewed more than 150 managers and technical engineers from 50 Chinese refineries, including state-owned PetroChina, Sinopec, CNOOC, as well as key players in the private sector.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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