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.
Oil sands crude — profits and problems?
Canadian bitumen production currently runs about 1 MMbpd, with some being sold as Synbit and Dilbit. Over the next 10-12 years output is expected to increase to 3.5 MMbpd and more refiners will begin investing to process it and come to depend on the Synbit and Dilbit for a significant part of their supply. ...
Heavy crudes are here to stay. As longs as oil prices remain high, Canadian, Venezuelan, Deep Water Gulf of Mexico, Mexican and other low API gravity crude oils will play an ever more important role in supplying world refineries. And prices promise to remain high because gainsayers notwithstanding, Hubbert ...
Designing deepcut vacuum units that really work
Every barrel of vacuum gas oil (VGO) you can save from being reduced to coke in the delayed coker unit is a barrel more that can go to the FCCU. That’s a good reason to raise HVGO cutpoint. But how to do it? Some people think the job can be done just by running computer models in the engineering ...
A time for grass roots thinking ?
Within the past year or two spiking crude prices and surging refinery margins have led to overheated talk about increasing refinery capacity worldwide. Plans for construction of as many 60 grass roots refineries have been discussed. But stretched out lead times for major equipment and inflated prices, ...
A single integrated vacuum system
Failure to design the vacuum unit as an integrated system will invariably result in unsatisfactory yield and poor product quality (high vanadium, nickel, microcarbon, or asphaltenes), and ultimately, an unscheduled shutdown. To avoid these revamp problems the charge pump, fired heater, transfer line, ...
Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when fuel gas prices were high, energy utilization assumed major importance. A new method of calculating heat exchanger networks was developed. It was called Pinch Technology. Today pinch has been rediscovered by engineers who have access to fast computer ...
A group of interesting articles* deals with opportunity crudes, a mixed breed that includes very heavy, sour and high total acid number types as well as those with unexceptional naphthenic acid content but which do have significant concentrations of aliphatic acids or possess the ability to generate ...
Processing heavy Canadian crude
Reducing crude oil cost is the major incentive driving crude and vacuum unit projects to handle heavy Canadian crudes. But such crudes–Albian Heavy, Christina Lake, MacKay River and others derived from oil sands–today present refiners with a unique set of problems not just because of extra-low ...
Why do many crude/vacuum units perform poorly?
In many cases it’s because the original design was based more on virtual than actual reality. There is no question: computer simulations have a key role to play but it’s equally true that process design needs to be based on what works in the field and not on the ideals of the process simulator. ...
Why produce diesel from the vacuum unit?
Look ahead five years. The economy is likely to keep tightening and the rush to control pollution will inevitably be accompanied by demands for greater energy conservation. Consequence? A growing market for diesel which yields more energy per unit volume. Yet many continue to believe that producing diesel ...