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UOP – Impact Bitumen Derived Feeds on FCC

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  • #1916

    basil parmesan

    Article Summary
    Canadian bitumen-derived crude imports to the U.S. are on the rise. These crudes contain significantly more VGO with lower hydrogen content and higher levels of sulfur and nitrogen than traditional crudes. With US refiners facing stiff competition from new export refineries in Asia, processing bitumen-derived crudes provides an opportunity to maximize product margin and maintain a competitive position going forward.
    There is an array of investment opportunities to consider, all of which will require increased vacuum unit, coking and sulfur plant capacities. The investment incentive is set by the cost differential between the bitumen-derived crude and the replaced crude. In this evaluation all of the refining investments required to process significant quantities of WCS were found to be attractive.
    Most US refiners have an FCC as their primary conversion unit. The investment choices revolve around the decision of how to best balance the existing FCC unit with a new VGO hydroprocessing unit to maximize profit from the bitumen-derived feedstocks. The addition of a VGO hydrotreating unit allows the refiner to maintain the current product slate without revamping the FCC and may also help mitigate revamps to existing hydrotreating units downstream of the FCC. Addition of a VGO hydrocracking unit provides the opportunity to shift the product slate towards ULSD while off-loading the FCC. However, there is also the opportunity to revamp the FCC unit for increased capacity and accept lower conversion due to the low hydrogen content. While revamping the FCC may be the most capital efficient alternative, the attractiveness of this option is highly dependent on the revamp capability of the existing unit for higher throughput, the refiner’s desired product slate and pricing scenarios.

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