NIS Considers Heavy Residue Processing Technologies

By Alexei Rodikov, April 4, 2013

NIS Refineries finished a hydrocracking unit reconstruction at its Pachevo refinery in November. Integrating the unit into RNP refinery operations will boost the quality of motor fuels and raise production figures for the refinery, in praticular the yield of light oil products, depth of oil processing, the Nelson Index, etc. This will enable NIS Refineries to successfully compete on the Europian oil products market, including the Balkans market, which already operates on Euro-5 quality standarts.

Generally speaking, refinery modernization targets two goals:

1. Raising asset quality to match regional standarts and satisfy the latest safety, environmental, and product quality requirements.
 2. Executing NIS’ strategy of increasing the company’s operations in alternative markets, expanding it’s product range, and lowering production costs.
Current modernization projects at RNP refinery will lead to greater efficiency and adaptability to existing and planned new regional regulations.
But time constraints require refinery managers to draft long-term modernization plans before even completing current modernization projects. They must scrupulously study ongoing changer in foreing markets and regional politics in order to accurately assers the company’s needs.

Managers make strategic and tactical decisions on  the company’s development, modernization, restructuring, etc., with due consideration of fluctuating demand for oil products, ever-tighter environmental regulations and constantly growing competition.

The company’s constant monitoring, assessment and evaluation of new developments in the field enable it to keep up with technological requirements. NIS Refineries currently favors low-cost technologies that provide substantial results with a short payback period.

NIS is actively searching for and analyzing the economic and technical benefits of implementing alternative technologies that will decrease production of low-margin products – like fuel oil 5 – and boost the output of high-margin products – TNG, gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel – over the long term. In general, the company is searching for ways to adapt to heavy residue treatment processes.

There are many products developed all over the world for hydrogenation processes; such products help solve current and long-term challenges of heavy residue processing.
Modern heavy residue processing technologies can be classified into two main areas – conversion processes and alternative processes:

Conversion (with and without hydrogenation);
Thermocatalytic – such processes as LC-Fining, H-Oil, Izoterming, Yunifleks, etc.;
Thermal – DCU coke production, solvent deasphaltizing, visbreaking, etc.;

Alternative:
– coke gasification units (Flexicoking), with steam and electricity output;
– gasification units with steam and electricity generation;
– with syngas and heavy residue production.

Thermocatalytic technology (high-pressure hydrocracking, etc.) is used mainly for conversion of low-value heavy oil cut into more valuable light oil products; the conversion rate is usually 30 percent to 90 percent of the heavy stock depending on process parameters, while the output includes TNG, gasoline, kerosene and diesel fractions with low sulfur content.

Advantages:
reduction of heavy oil products margin, higher yield of light oil products;
distillation of the produced components (removal of sulfur and non-saturated hydrocarbons) – compliance with quality standards.

Disadvantages:
energy-intensive;
requires a complex catalyst system (periodic acquisition of catalyst material, shutdown for regeneration or replacement, the complexity of the