Tony Tavares - W.R. Grace & Co
The growth in domestic crude production, specifically tight oils, has resulted in new challenges for refiners. Elevated levels of contaminant iron in crude are becoming the norm. Downstream, iron poisoning in the FCCU was once an isolated phenomenon, limited to a handful of refiners processing opportunity crudes. Today, as domestic crude processing grows, more refiners are experiencing the effects of elevated iron in the FCCU. Even in the face of dynamic global crude prices, the processing of domestic shale oils is expected to remain an important part of the refining landscape in North America and other regions throughout the world. To maintain operating flexibility and profitability, refiners need effective strategies to manage unconventional contaminant metals and minimize the unfavorable consequences those metals can have on FCC unit operation, including loss in fuels selectivity, unstable circulation, and reduced bottom of the barrel conversion, ultimately leading to lower margins across the FCCU.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, LLC (PES) operated a refinery complex on the US East Coast and processed a high percentage of domestic crude containing elevated iron levels. As a result, PES observed iron poisoning impacts at its resid FCCU. With a combination of operating strategies and FCC catalyst optimization, PES learned how to maintain profitable operations within a dynamic and challenging refining environment. Grace will describe the methods PES utilized to monitor, manage and minimize the impacts of high iron levels in the resid FCCU. This paper describes in detail the multi-faceted strategy, which includes feed property monitoring, troubleshooting and optimization of the FCC operation, catalyst make-up strategies, and PES’s catalyst reformulation to Grace’s MIDAS® Gold FCC catalyst.