Condensate is crude

Ultra-light crudes and condensates are here to stay. These streams have flooded the market in recent years, and many of them are deeply discounted against reference crudes. Refiners have been processing increasing percentages of this light material through their Crude Distillation Units (CDUs) up against unit naphtha handling limits. On the surface, processing condensate and other ultra-light crudes with high API gravity and low sulfur should be easy. In reality, many refiners have experienced significant challenges, some of which are unique to ultra-light crudes and condensate.

Although their bulk properties signal that these crudes should be easy to process, new recovery techniques tend to leave undesirable compounds in the crudes that can adversely affect refinery CDUs or Condensate Splitters. Some of the bad actors are:
• High melt point waxes / high paraffin content
• Tramp amines from production H2S scavengers
• Filterable solids
• Tramp phosphorous compounds

These undesirable compounds are the source of operating and reliability problems in CDUs and Condensate Splitters worldwide, and the onset and severity of certain problems can often be traced back to the introduction of new ultra-light crudes and Condensates.

These supposedly “easy” crudes have been linked the following problems:
• Fouling in the cold preheat train
• Poor desalter performance
• Fouling in the warm and hot preheat trains
• Crude heater fouling and hot spots
• Accelerated overhead system corrosion
• Salting in the top of the crude column
• Plugging of kerosene section trays and exchangers
• Plugging of stripping trays

Despite the impression that new ultra-light crudes and condensates should all be easy to run, they are not. Condensates and ultra-light crudes are crudes, meaning that many of them can be difficult to process and can present unique refining challenges.

Process Consulting Services, Inc. has experience with these crudes and has addressed all of the problems above through process and equipment design features. Contact us today to maximize profitability and minimize headaches while processing these discounted crudes.


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