Refiners think bigger
The world refining system will need extensive reconstruction to meet likely changes in transport fuels demand
ONE safe forecast for refiners is that their operations will
become more intensive and will be carried out in fewer, larger,
complexes in coming years. While demand is moving towards
lighter and cleaner refined products, the world's crude
production is becoming heavier and with a higher sulphur
content. Reconciling the two trends will call for the
construction of a large volume of bottom-of-the-barrel
processing capacity - particularly hydrocracking and delayed
coking units, to crack heavy residues into middle distillates.
But such units need to be large, with a capacity of 50,000
barrels a day (b/d) or more, to benefit from the economies of
scale. A refinery with a distillation capacity of much less
than 200,000 b/d will not produce enough feedstock to support
such a large volume of bottom-of-the-barrel capacity - so the
world's smaller refineries will face increasingly challenging
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