The challenge of modern refineries in the ever growing global competition is to increase their refining margin and by that their profit. Nowadays, global competition, forces refineries to maximize process intensification and process optimization, which are required key stones to increase the refining margins and by that the profit of the entire refinery.
It all starts from the crude oil and ends with final distillates and blends. Optimization of the entire refinery production chain is a major task and starts with enhancing the efficiency of each of the following interdepended processes:
Crude Blending– Maximizing low cost and opportunity crude in the CDU feedstock without affecting the distillation capacity and quality of high valued distillates, and with minimum cost of energy.
Crude Distillation – Cut point shifting to increase the volumes of high valued distillates on the account of low valued products. Minimizing influence of transition time upon crude oil switching. Preventing production of off-spec and borderline distillates.
Secondary Processes – Maximization of the efficiency of each refinery unit for consecutive processing of CDU atmospheric and vacuum distillates and residues, such as the FCC’s, Hydrocrackers, CCR’s, Hydrofluoric Acid Alkylation Units etc.
Product Blending – Optimized blending of final products to uninterruptedly produce solely in-spec blends of diesel, gasoline, kerosene etc.
A basic requirement for process intensification and optimization is the constant availability of real time analytical data representing the quality of the feedstocks, produced intermediates and distillates, final products and blends. This enables adaption and fine-tuning of process conditions to ensure production at maximum capacities, at maximum process yield and quality and minimum cost of production and energy consumption.
Laboratory analyses are too time consuming to give real-time feedback of changes made. Discrete ASTM based process analyzers measure only one single physical property, which is suboptimal to determine full compliance of all required physical properties of a product with their specification.
NMR Process analyzers are correlative analyzers. Not an optical spectroscopic method, but based on the alignment of nuclei in a magnetic field, make NMR process analyzers applicable in transparent, dense and opaque process streams alike. It enables sequential to measure multiple quality properties of incoming feedstock and product streams by one single instrument.
Changing blend properties and process conditions or crude switching will directly influence the capacity of and product ratio between different distillates in the CDU. In secondary processes, fluctuations in feedstock influence the quality properties of product from the secondary refinery units, and efficient utilization of catalyst in catalytic processes. Each fluctuation calls for immediate adjustment of process conditions to maintain optimal production.
NMR process analyzers provide real time analytical feedback whether or not the operational changes led to the desired expectations, or whether further fine tuning of the process conditions is required for running each process in its most efficient and economic mode.
The application of NMR process analyzers in the process control of each individual refinery unit is highly effective to guarantee maximum production capacity of high valued distillates from crude feed of lowest cost until final distillates, blends and other refinery products to be brought on the market at competitive but lucrative prices. This is the fundamental to increase refining margins and beneficial process intensification of the complex, interdependent refinery production processes, from the crude oil to final distillates and blends.