The crude oil refining market is continually changing. New and more-stringent emission regulations, ongoing growth in lighter petroleum products, the recovery of crude oil prices, increased crude flexibility (especially in North America) and new market opportunities are creating new levels of competitiveness.
Refinery profitability today depends on the ability to make quick and accurate decisions — on what crude to process, what products to produce and how to operate.
Most refinery planners use linear programming (LP) tools to make these decisions. These tools use an LP model of the refinery to analyze options. However, with constant changes in operating conditions, the models become out of sync with the actual conditions of the plant. Unfortunately, most LP tools do not have the capability to update their models, resulting in sub-optimal plans that adversely affect the profitability of the refinery.
LP models can be updated with the help of process simulator software that can rigorously simulate the kinetics of major process refinery units like reactors. However, the know-how for using process simulators usually lies within the process engineering division of a refinery, which is typically separate from the planning division. Regular upkeep of LP models requires a culture of close collaboration between the refinery’s various operating groups. This is not common in many refineries.
To make matters even more difficult, the workflow involved in updating the LP models using process simulators is very complex. Many refineries are dependent on expensive third-party consultants to do the updates for them —and some refineries do not update their models at all, giving up significant profit gains.
For those refineries that depend on external consultants, the process simulation models are not always made available. However, even if the refinery has access to the consultant’s process simulation models, the refinery engineers don’t know how to use them. And very often the consultants are not available when they are needed, forcing refineries to continue operating with inconsistent planning models.
The good news is that AspenTech engineers have come up with a brand-new tool that automates and streamlines much of the complex workflow involved in updating planning models!
This new tool consists of a preconfigured Excel template that enables refinery engineers to do the updates themselves — without waiting for help from external consultants. More importantly, the template reduces the time required for routine updates from several weeks to just a couple of days.
Our upcoming webinar on 19 September at 10:00 AM (EDT) will showcase this powerful new template and demonstrate how it can help refineries maximize and sustain their profit margins. Sign up today to learn more!