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Worldwide Refinery Processing Review (Quarterly Issues)

Publication date:2Q 2017
Item#: B21702

Hydrocracking and Maintenance, Reliability, and Safety


Hydrocracking (HC) is utilized in refineries to upgrade a variety of feeds that range from coker naphtha to various heavy gas oils and residual fractions as well as into lighter molecules. The hydrocracking process has emerged as the primary producer of middle distillates, i.e. diesel (or called gasoil), jet fuel, and heating oil, in many refinery configurations. As environmental regulations on transportation fuels continue to tighten, the hydrocracker will be one of the tools available to refiners to meet new product specifications. Unlike FCCU processes, hydrocrackers can effectively yield ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) streams whereas middle-distillate range FCC products (i.e. light cycle oil, LCO) will regularly require additional treating to meet product blending specifications. HCUs can also offer improved flexibility to shift production modes between gasoline and diesel products based on process selection, operating conditions, and catalysts used.

Nowadays, the hydrocracking technology must step up its flexibility in light of shifting demand shift such as International Maritime Organization (IMO) low sulfur bunker fuel mandate by 2020, diesel emission scandals, emerging threat from electric cars, and so on. This issue covers a broad range of the latest hydrocracking topics.

Maintenance, Reliability, and Safety

Maintenance, reliability, and safety (MRS) issues in a refinery have demonstrated the benefits of the latest industrial internet of things (IIOT). The key is to marry information technology (IT) and operation technology (OT).  With advanced monitoring capability—thanks to widespread use of relatively inexpensive sensors, refiners are now increasingly using data acquisition and management to perform big data mining or analytics so that they can better understand the intrinsic values of maintenance via predictive and prescriptive analytics to enhance unit and equipment reliability and at the same time mitigate unsafe operations.

The refining industry—indeed, industry in general—has come to recognize reliability and safety as essential to profitability. Lost production, whether from equipment failure or human error, can cost a company significantly—in lost profit, in regulatory violations, in injuries or exposure to risk of personnel and the community. This has driven increasing attention not only to equipment and procedures that minimize failure and error, but to methodologies for identifying and assessing modes of failure, as well.

Reliability in refining involves the elimination of failure for equipment and systems. Although smaller auxiliary units will inevitably fail, avoiding large-scale upsets of major processing units and/or critical processing equipment should be a primary goal in order to minimize revenue losses. Reliability goes hand-in-hand with refinery maintenance. Reliability engineers attempt to mitigate failure by identifying and blocking failure processes that typically result from chemical, mechanical, electrical and thermal stresses. And maintenance engineers look to restore operations quickly and efficiently after a failure to minimize revenue losses.

Safety issues will also be a primary driver for the planning and execution of refinery maintenance programs. Reaching a clear and concise understanding of risk factors in refining and defining Process Safety Management (PSM) principles is the first step in providing a safe work environment for refinery personnel. Furthermore, a number of strategies focusing on inspection and maintenance activities, process control and automation, and best practices are presented with the goal of providing options for improved safety in refining.

Overall, improvements in both refinery reliability and safety on a plant-wide and unit-by-unit basis can help enhance production, efficiency, and profitability. Well planned maintenance strategies can be implemented to achieve both of these goals in a cost-effective manner without compromising the refiner's ability to operate.

Additionally, the maintenance, reliability, and safety section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:

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The Review is sold for the exclusive use of the subscriber. No other use, duplication, or publication of the Review or any part contained therein is permitted without written consent from Hydrocarbon Publishing Company, P.O. Box 815, Paoli PA 19301-0815 (USA).

Keywords: hydrogen, hydrocracking, middle distillates, diesel, ULSD, heavy oil, tight oil, ebullated-bed, slurry-bed, fixed-bed, single-stage, two-stage, two-stage with recycle, jet fuel, kerosene, gasoil, gas oil, coker gas oil, coker naphtha, DAO, VGO, HVGO, LCO, mild hydrocracking, resid hydrocracking, renewable hydrocracking, renewable jet fuel, renewable diesel, biodiesel, dewaxing, cold flow properties, cloud point, pour point, cetane, platinum, palladium, NiMo, CoMo, NiW, heavy polynuclear aromatics, HPNAs, Fischer-Tropsch, F-T, failure, equipment, degradation, corrosion, catalyst deactivation, overpressurization, asset management, automation, MAC, main automation contractor, preventative maintenance, predicative, reactive, process safety management, PSM, downtime, uptime, turnaround, root cause analysis, digital, intelligent field device, HART, fieldbus, PROFIBUS, wireless, mean time to repair, risk based inspection, process control, OSHA, Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT