In recent years, the marine fuel landscape has changed dramatically. The recent decision of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to reduce the sulfur content in marine fuels used on the open seas from 3.5% by weight to 0.5% by weight is the latest change and is likely to be in effect by 2020. These limits will present a challenge for refiners to decide what to do with the high-sulfur residual oil that can no longer be blended into bunker fuel. Adding capacity to desulfurize residual oil is one option, or expanding refinery units that take heavy hydrocarbons and upgrading them into lighter, more valuable products. In either of these cases, refineries need to act fast and make investment decisions to face the future demands of the industry.
The overall economics of a refinery depends on key elements: the choice of crude slate, the complexity of the refinery/configuration and the product slate/quality. Supplies of light, sweet crude oil are decreasing. Processing cheaper heavier crude oil involves incorporating upgrading processes such as residue desulfurization into the refining scheme. Refiners who are able to convert heavy, high-sulfur crude to light products face prosperous years. The biggest winners will be the refining companies that can deal with very heavy and high-sulfur crude oil. Atmospheric residue desulfurization (ARDS) process plays an important role in upgrading heavy petroleum oils and residues to more valuable clean environmentally friendly transportation fuels and to partially convert the residues to produce low-sulfur fuel oil and hydrotreated feedstocks.
Kuwait's refining sector has extensive experience in operating ARDS units for over 30 years; and with completion of ongoing projects will be the largest user of ARDS process in the world. ResidHydroTreat 2017 will facilitate the coming together of end-users, licensors, catalyst suppliers and contractors to discuss and share best practices, latest developments and provide a platform to address future trends in residue processing.
Mohammad G. Al-Mutairi
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SHELL GLOBAL SOLUTIONS
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