CO2 management: a refiner’s perspective

Production of CO2 globally has been brought into sharp focus in recent times through declarations such as the Kyoto accord, and also by industry leaders committing to tangible reductions.

Simon C Clarke, Foster Wheeler Energy

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Article Summary

These statements and accords have committed to a reduction in CO2 production compared to established benchmark levels. But what does this mean for the refiner or any other industry for that matter? To fully understand the CO2 issue, it must be looked at from:
• A global perspective
• A country perspective
• An industry perspective.
The global issue of CO2 reduction has already been distilled down into country-specific targets by Kyoto, which differ across the globe. A large multinational oil company will have operations spread across several industries and across countries and continents. Countries are likely to target specific industries to meet their Kyoto commitments, resulting in an initially confused picture for the refiner.
To solve this problem, the refiner and oil company must look towards adopting a CO2 management strategy across their various enterprises. This will take 
into account global, 
country-specific and industry targets, and look to meet commitments through technology, alternate business ventures, CO2 trading and efficiency gains. The CO2 management strategy also looks at the impact of changes to a product train in terms of CO2 production when enhancements are made — do changes really reduce CO2 when challenged via one of the different perspectives outlined above? A global focus will lead to different solutions in different places to either a country or industry focus.
This paper reviews the general CO2 issues and focuses on the supply chain of an integrated oil major. It then focuses on the refinery itself, and reviews sources of CO2 from a refinery and their relative quantities, and reviews specific actions that a refiner can take.
This shows how a refiner, with some smart targeting and decision making, can position their business enterprises in the global marketplace of the coming years and benefit from enhanced operation and efficiency.

The Kyoto accord may be remembered as the turning point for the planet, or it may fade into obscurity, buried under continued negotiation, politics and compromise. Either way, many industries today are facing up to the need to curb emissions, whatever the reason or drive. We are not going to cover the details of the arguments of the greenhouse gas debate here, as that is being done in detail in other areas. However, we are going to analyse the production of CO2 by industry, and specifically how it is going to affect the refiner.
In essence, Kyoto accord distilled a global problem into a national one, by setting emission targets for greenhouse gases compared with a baseline 1990 level, with a view to pegging and reducing global emissions. Most industrialised countries have to reduce their emissions, with other countries permitted to maintain or increase their emissions. CO2 is the main target, as it is the biggest emission, although not the worst offender in terms of the green house gas effect (other gases including methane, nitrous oxide, halocarbons, ozone and even water).
Having set the scene, we now need to understand how it affects the refiner. We can develop a model of the lifecycle of a carbon-based resource, from extraction through manipulation, and final use and disposal. Such a model, the CO2 train is shown in Figure 1.
This model then allows us to see how CO2 is emitted from various industries and how they compare to one another. The model consists of various stages that may or may not be present in the life of a resource:

Location 1
• We start with a natural resource extracted from the earth
• Resource is separated
• Gas stream (if present) is processed and potentially converted.

Transport: Location 2
• Refining or processing.

Transport: Location 3
• Transport fuels: combustion, emission of CO2, provision of motive force
• Energy production: combustion, emission of CO2, provision of transmittable energy
• Chemicals: conversion into “things”, disposal via incineration (and production of CO2) or landfill/recycle (trapping of CO2) after time.

At each stage, there is emission of CO2, through to final disposal of the energy product. We can view this model from a number of standpoints:
• As a global citizen, where all emissions are of equal importance
• As a national entity, which may only have certain parts of the train within our national boundary
• As an oil company, which has each element spread across the entire globe.

With these viewpoints in mind, we can then generate emission profiles for different natural resources, industries and countries, and compare them on a particular basis. By way of example, we can develop emission profiles for typical LNG (to power) and typical oil (to transport fuels) on a basis of 1 MW of energy delivered. These are shown in Figure 2.
As we can see, approximately 90% of the emission comes from combustion of the final product (regassed LNG in a combined cycle power plant and combustion of gasoline/diesel in a combustion engine). These results are probably as expected. It is interesting to note, however, that the energy train for LNG and refining are similar, with approximately 90% of the energy reaching the final market.
It is obvious, therefore, that any attempt to tackle CO2 emissions should be initially aimed at the end user, which in the refining case is the user of the fuel, as this accounts for over 90% of the total emissions in the life of the fuel (legislators please take note).
But what does this mean for the refiner? If we look at the emissions within the control of the oil company, we then get the profile shown in Figure 3.
We can see, from an oil company’s point of view, the refinery is the key emit- ter within their operations. We also must recognise that within the EU, IPPC legislation is just around the corner that will deal with emissions from indus- trial stationary sources, and this legislation will include greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.


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