Revolutionary Refinery Gets More Out of Crude Oil
A newly designed, revolutionary refinery, capable of turning heavy gas-oils into higher value stock, has the go ahead for an opening date in 2010.
The refinery design is a joint project between Saudi Arabia's national oil company, Aramco, and Japan's largest oil company, Nippon Oil Corporation. New technology, called high-severity fluid catalytic cracking (HS-FCC) will allow the refinery to produce usable petrochemicals from heavy oils, which, until recently, have proven difficult and expensive to extract. Skipping all of the petrochemical mechanics of HS-FCC, the idea is to use relatively inexpensive oil to make ethane, butane and propane.
With crude oil prices at record highs, many oil companies are rethinking heavy oils which comprise over 60% of the world's oil resources. Though HS-FCC will not directly affect our gas prices because it is not used in gasoline production, in the long-run HS-FCC might let oil companies use more heavy oil for more petrochemical production, leaving more light crude for gasoline production. Don't look forward to any help at the pump though; when the refinery finally opens it will only be producing 3,000 barrels a day, a relative drop in the barrel for the world market. There is also a 40,000 barrel a day HS-FCC refinery plan in the works.
For the truly adventurous or just plain nerdy, a paper abstract and link to learn more about the HS-FCC process here .