INTERNATIONAL. Engineering for a revolutionary new refinery design moved forward recently when members of an international research consortium approved plans that will put a 3,000-barrel-per-day semi-commercial facility online in 2010.
The step is the latest in an initiative by Saudi Aramco, Nippon Oil Co, and Saudi and Japanese researchers to create the world’s first high-severity fluid catalytic cracking (HS-FCC) refinery, which converts low-value, heavy gas-oils into high yields of higher value feedstock suitable to supply petrochemical processes.
The configuration enhances production of light hydrocarbons, which are used as building blocks for plastic manufacturing, compared to traditional reactor designs.
This higher yield design makes this process potentially more valuable for developing integrated refinery and petrochemical complexes.
Saudi Aramco was represented at the 'design basis review' kick-off meeting for the first semi-commercial plant by Oil to Chemicals Research and Development Project team members Christopher Dean, Allan Fox and Mohammed Al-Tayyar.
The meetings were held at the Houston offices of Shaw Stone and Webster, which is preparing the front-end engineering package for the HS-FCC process.
Also present were representatives of Nippon Oil, Axens and Chiyoda, which will build the plant. This first plant will be constructed in a Nippon refinery and be in operation by 2010.
The HS-FCC project is a partnership in technology innovation with Saudi Aramco, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Nippon and the Japan Petroleum Energy Center.
The project is part of Saudi Aramco’s Downstream and Strategic Research Program under the Research and Development Center.
More than 12 years in development, the project was designed in three phases. The first two were a small, lab-scale testing facility at KFUPM and an extended operation of a 30 bpd demonstration plant at Ras Tanura Refinery.
The third and current phase is the design, construction and operation of the 3,000 bpd semi-commercial unit in Japan. A commercial-size 40,000 bpd design is also being developed at the same time.