US Refiners: CO2 cost curve?

Which refiners are least CO2 intensive, and which refiners are most CO2 intensive? This spreadsheet answers the question, by aggregating data from 130 US refineries, based on EPA regulatory disclosures.

The full database contains a granular breakdown, facility-by-facility, showing each refinery, its owner, its capacity, throughput, utilisation rate and CO2 emissions across six categories: combustion, refining, hydrogen, CoGen, methane emissions and NOx (chart below).

Assessed companies include Aramco, BP, Chevron, Citgo, Delek, ExxonMobil, Koch, Hollyfrontier, Marathon, Phillips66, PBF, Shell and Valero.

Refinery membranes: where’s the IP?

This data-file reviews over 1,000 patents to identify the technology leaders aiming to use membranes instead of other separation processes (e.g.,  distillation) within refineries.

Covered companies in the screen include Air Liquide, Air Products,  Aramco, BASF, BP, Chevron,  Dow, ExxonMobil, GE, Honeywell, IFP, MTR, Praxair, Shell, WR Grace and Zeon. A brief overview is prented for each company, along with a summary of their recent patent filings, and all the underlying details.

Operational data are also presented for two interesting cases: Exxon’s recent refinery membrane breakthrough (chart below) and Air Products’s PRISM membranes for hydrogen separation.

Carbon Costs of IMO 2020?

CO2 intensity of oil refineries could rise by 20% due to IMO 2020 regulations, according to the estimates in this data-file, if a refinery chooses to convert all its high-sulphur fuel oil into low-sulphur diesel.

The drivers are an extra stage of cracking, plus higher-temperature hydrocracking and hydrotreating, which will also have the knock-on consequence of increasing hydrogen demands.

Higher CO2 intensity conflicts with the industry’s aim of lowering its net emissions, and a 20% increase would effectively undo 30-years of prior efficiency gains in the refining industry.

Upgrading Catalysts: lower refinery temperatures and pressures?

Catalysts matter for refinery energy and CO2 intensity, as is shown in this data-file: It tabulates temperature and pressure conditions, disclosed for different refinery units, based on over 50 patents from leading energy Majors.

The average refinery process takes place at 450C. But variability is high. Hence our data-file explains the variations as a function of the different catalyst compositions, being pioneered by the different companies.

Combining all the best-in-class new catalysts in the datafile, we think the average refinery could save 5kg/bbl of CO2 intensity: across hydrocracking, FCCs, steam cracking, coking, dewaxing, hydrotreating, alkylation and reforming.

Carbon Capture Costs at Refineries?

This model calculates the costs of post-combustion carbon capture at a world-scale refinery, using today’s commercially available CCS technologies. The aim is to see whether the process could be economically competitive, as oil refineries emit c1bn tons of CO2 per annum.

Carbon capture costs vary unit-by-unit, as a function of the unit’s size and the CO2-concentration in its flue gas. Hence we estimate that c10-20% of refinery emissions can be eliminated for $XX/ton, the “middle 50%” will cost c$XX-XX/ton, while the final 20% will cost $XX-XX/ton. Calculations can be flexed in the model, using alternative input assumptions.

Our estimates are informed by an excellent technical paper from Shell, which is also summarised.

Overview of Downstream Catalyst Companies

This data-file tabulates details of the c35 companies commercialising catalysts for the refining industry.  Improved catalysts are aimed at better yields, efficiencies and energy intensities. This is the leading route we can find to lower refining sector CO2 emissions.

In particular, we find five early-stage companies are aiming to commercialise next-generation refining catalysts.

We also quantify which Majors have recently filed the most patents to improve downstream catalysts.

If you would like us to expand the data-file, or provide further details on any specific companies, then please let us know…

Eni Slurry Technology. A leader for IMO 2020?

This data-file models the economics of Eni’s Slurry Technology, for hydro-converting heavy crudes and fuel oils into light products. It is among the top technologies we have reviewed for the arrival of IMO 2020 sulfur regulation, achieving >97% conversion of heavy fractions. The catalyst is stable and handles even ultra-heavy inputs. We see 10-20% IRRs at $20-40/bbl upgrading spreads. The data-file also summarises EST’s adoption in refineries to-date, future plans, and technical details of the EST process.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.