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Chevron Unveils New Refining Technology That Converts Ultra-Heavy Oil Into Clean-Burning Fuel

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 14 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #3755

    Chevron Unveils New Refining Technology That Converts Ultra-Heavy Oil Into Clean-Burning Fuel
    Proprietary technology generates higher yields of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel without producing low-value products

    SAN RAMON, Calif., March 6, 2008 — Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) said today it plans to build a pre-commercial plant at its refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., to test the technical and economic viability of a breakthrough heavy-oil upgrading technology. This proprietary technology, called Vacuum Resid Slurry Hydrocracking (VRSH), has the potential to significantly increase yields of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from heavy and ultra-heavy crude oils and could be used to increase and upgrade production of heavy oil resources.

    “This project will advance Chevron’s heavy-oil upgrading capability and is an important research and development initiative for the company,” said Mike Wirth, executive vice president of Global Downstream for Chevron. “Given the increasing role of heavy oil in meeting the world’s growing energy demand and our significant heavy oil resources, this technology could provide a unique pathway to increase supplies of clean-burning fuels for the marketplace.”

    The Pascagoula pre-commercial plant will have a capacity of 3,500 barrels per day. All necessary permits have been secured, and construction is expected to begin later this year.

    Chevron has been actively developing VRSH technology since 2003. The patented process has undergone successful preliminary testing on a wide range of feedstocks in multiple pilot plants at Chevron’s research center in Richmond, Calif. Chevron’s research shows the technology can achieve up to 100 percent conversion of the heaviest feedstock, while the best current commercial refining technology achieves less than 80 percent conversion.

    John McDonald, vice president and chief technology officer for Chevron, said, “The development of VRSH technology further strengthens Chevron’s capability to convert heavy oil resources into high-value fuels, providing an integrated solution that will benefit both upstream and downstream businesses. VRSH is a milestone in Chevron’s commitment to develop new technologies that will expand and diversify energy supplies to help meet the rapid growth in global energy demand.”

    The Pascagoula Refinery, Chevron’s largest wholly owned petroleum refinery, has been operating in Mississippi for over 40 years. “We have the experience and expertise to construct and operate the pre-commercial plant in a safe and environmentally responsible manner and are extremely pleased to play an important role in advancing this promising new technology,” said Roland Kell, general manager of the Pascagoula Refinery.

    Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business across the globe. The company’s success is driven by the ingenuity and commitment of approximately 59,000 employees who operate across the energy spectrum. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and other energy products; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops and commercializes the energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other renewables. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron is available at

    Editor’s Note:
    The estimated volume of technically recoverable heavy oil and natural bitumen in known accumulations is about equal to the earth’s remaining conventional light oil reserves. Source: USGS

  • #6991


    Will this work alongside a hydrocracker, fluid catalytic cracker and coker.  Or is it expected to replace some of those units?
    Any comments from Chevron?

  • #6971


    I think that there is no Coke yield, all resid is converted to high value product

  • #6969

    Charles Randall

    Ok – it is time for Chevron & support folks to stop drinking thier own koolaide on this Vacuum Resid Slurry Hydrocracking (VRSH) process! Things are drifting from partial fiction into fantasy land.
    The first question answers on news article = this IS a hydrocracker but it will work alongside FCC/Hydrocracker/Coker and PDA as well and it could also replace some of these units.
    The third post  = no coke yield is making that crossing over to La La land and I have to cry bullshit. (I can appreciate that Chevron is proud of their new technology and it is good step for thier technology group but this process isnt that new or unique and it certainly cannot live up to the hype of no coke yield and 100% conversion to higher value product).
    The process seems to be very similar to the ENI’s EST (ENI Slurry Technology) that is also a Resid Hydrocracking Process that is paired with PDA unit to make sure all FCC Gasoil has minimum asphaltenes in the DAGO going to it.  Basically both technologies use higher concentration of more active catalysts than older Resid Hydrocrackers to do the conversion. And lot of the miss-statements about yield come from earlier ENI version that are used for the CVX process. When you look at the process balance it is drawing circle around intermediates going to downstream units and comparing it to coker that has already rejected carbon in form of coke (hence 80% vs 100-110% comparison) – it completely overlooks the additional coke that will be made and burned in FCC regenerator or Hydrocracker and that is why balance is on intermediates instead of finished refinery products.
    The ENI – EST process put its pre-commercial plant in 2005 (similar to 3.5 MBD pre-commercial unit that CVX is going put at Pascagoula) – so you can fast forward what is going on by looking at some ENI results.  It is good alternate process (like Visbreakers, Resid FCC/Hydrocrackers, ect) but definitely not great substitute for a coker nor will be earth changing event that previous coking news has indicated (see 6/28/07, 7/21/07 & 2/15/08 news items) and I think it is big mistake to hold up the Pascagoula coker expansion waiting on this pilot plants results.
    But lot smart people at CVX and they have their own viewpoints.
    But the balance point needs to be one of both energy & finished products not this missleading inside loop around intermediates to serve PR purposes. 
    Because the basics are this –  if you want to increase the API of a material you can either add Hydrogen or remove Carbon. Adding Hydrogen only yields a minor API increase and the most complex fractions like asphaltenes will make carbon in the process designed to break / fracture molecules – if they are not removed as Fuel Oil or Asphalt <Both lower value material than charge material’s products they are talking about here> then they will form on/in the furnace, towers, and various expensive catalysts during the process instead of in a coke drum. And outside of a drum they will decrease the reactivity of the catalysts and reduce yield of products &/or reduce heater/exchanger efficiencies. 

  • #6966


    I am copying your quote, and your BS flag…..I sincerely believe you will regret making that blanket statement without seeing it for yourself. 

  • #6965


    How well the process runs or if it is financially viable is anyone’s guess. However, the process is up and running in Chevron’s R&D lab in Houston as we speak.

  • #6964

    Charles Randall

    No need to call me Sir, never made it above sergeant – preferred to be with guys where action is (much like coke consulting) instead stuck with preppie who didn’t know which end of his body to put lower in a foxhole. But I would suggest that if you’re going to make sniping threats, that you grow some gonads and sign your name.
    Also if you plan on using my quote – you make sure you keep the context correct, and remember your not dealing with a colleague within the protection of your own company this time.
    As to “seeing” the results / process – there isn’t anything to see yet, CVX’s VRSH just exist in a lab scale R&D model right now & the pre-commercial plant is only just entering construction phase.  A lot of technology process die in the scale up from lab to pre-commercial scale. (I understand ENI had some difficulty at first with their 2005 unit (1,200 BPD) in keeping conversion efficiency up and maintaining products quality.) And even if this stage works perfect (which I fully expect) there is still the big ratio of going from a pre-commercial plant at 1/10 scale to full commercial operating unit. Lot process patent’s have died here.
    So perhaps you would be better served giving your recommendation to a mirror & have your folks turn down the hype – at least until you get past the precommerical demonstration plant. And please go back and do a correct balance around the finished products – not some self serving inside loop balance around intermediates that ENI did ; CVX has / uses coking technology unlike ENI refineries & I expect better from Chevron.

  • #6953


    whats very intresting to puzzling to me is where is the carbon going…..
    I dont think you can ever get a 100% conversion when it comes to a large scale high rate units which are the standard in todays refinery………..  If this were true there would be no need for a coker and everyone would want one so they could have no waste aka lower value products… right?

  • #6952

    Claus Graf

    No need for a Coker ???
    Please let me know ASAP.
    Regards, C.G.

  • #6947


    where is the bigshot who commented on how great this technology works and how it working in the lab and such./…. why wont you comment if cokers will no longer be needed or not that is a great question???

  • #6943


    I could not agree more with Charlie Randall.  You are so right and way to go on your answer to the other guest.  Well done Charlie.  As soon as they commission this plant they will see how much work they need to do.  In my mind, this unit is just another hydrotreater! You can’t replace the Coking process or the FCC process.  Come one guys! we all know that.

  • #6941


    well theoretically you could if you could use sweet crude that has less carbon.. cuts arent perfect and if you had the right amount of crap going out with your finished product you could do it but the purity is what is needed………… but coker is need for that purity and to knock the carbon and dense matter out of the resid right?  To get a high value product out of the gunk thats left after distillation and fractionation as well as cat-cracking or am i going thru the processes wrong?

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