Skip to main content

Creating a refinery of the future

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Refineries are often cast in a bad light – as producers of fossil fuels and petrochemical polymers that contribute to global emissions. However, what is often overlooked is the positive impact that refineries have on our way of life. Without refining technologies making products widely available and affordable, modern life as it is today would simply not be possible. Even in a turbulent and disruptive market environment, successful refineries around the world manage to maintain operations and meet our daily energy needs.

Refineries will play an important role in the short-, medium- and long-term, depending on their location, local demand, and the export regions that they serve. Due to global climate targets, every industry is currently striving to reduce emissions, and the downstream industry is the one sector that stands between the hammer and the anvil. On the one hand, there are regulatory frameworks that aim to provide more clarity on the direction in which refineries will have to adjust their existing assets and focus their production investments. On the other hand, there are temporary technological limitations and challenges that they need to overcome in order to remain competitive in the market and continue to be able to offer refined products that meet the retail market requirements in terms of price and quality.

Given recent geopolitical events and the resulting disruptions to global crude oil flows and forecast scenarios, refineries are definitely here to stay – albeit in a modified form. The refinery of the future will expand its role as an energy hub, incorporating highly-automated and technologically-advanced molecule management, and designed to precisely control the production of clean liquid fuels and chemical building blocks according to market conditions.

There will be a strong focus on new trends and new areas to further develop. These will include the use of renewable feedstocks and energy; automation optimisation and digitalisation; carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); and integration with chemical production or directly tuning and re-designing the processing facility to yield maximum chemical building blocks, through the so-called crude-to-chemicals (CTC) production scheme…

This article was originally published in the June 2023 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering magazine. To read the full article, sign in or register for a free subscription.

Written by Miro Cavkov, Euro Petroleum Consultants (EPC).

Read the article online at:

You might also like


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):


This article has been tagged under the following:

Downstream news