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Thermal conversion – converting the bottom of the barrel into higher-value products

Faced with falling demand for low-value products such as residue fuel oil, operators are seeking proven, cost-effective technologies to help increase the value of their residue streams by revamping and debottlenecking existing units. Shell Global Solutions’ thermal conversion processes enable refiners to upgrade a range of hydrocarbons. The base level is provided by our soaker–visbreaking technology: a low-cost conversion method for hydroskimming refineries. Operators can upgrade their thermal conversion units to the more advanced deep thermal residue conversion (DTC ) process. DTC provides an attractive alternative for the bottom stream and creates products suitable for bitumen manufacture and power generation. Beyond this, our thermal gas oil process combines residue and thermal distillate conversion.
 
Thermal conversion techniques have been around for more than 50 years, and the Shell Group (“Shell”) has been at the forefront of developing and optimising the technology. Shell accounts for about 40% of all worldwide thermal conversion capacity and has licensed more than 115 units, mostly for the visbreaker process.
 
The soaker–visbreaking process reduces the viscosity of vacuum and atmospheric residues in refineries.
 
The DTC process helps to maximise distillates by converting vacuum residue feed and then vacuum flashing the cracked residue.
 
The thermal gas oil process combines residue and waxy distillate conversion. Soaker–visbreaking technology is used for residue conversion, and an integrated recycle heater system is used to convert waxy distillate. The typical feedstock is atmospheric residue, which eliminates the need for an upstream vacuum flasher.
 
Have you considered how you can
· select cost-effective revamping and debottlenecking strategies?
· identify robust technical operating strategies?

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