Precise predictions and solutions for tomorrow's needs are the key elements to build a growing, sustainable Refining business. This requires a mixture of vision, strategic risk taking business model and investment in new technology.

Refining trends forecast for the next 15 years are useful for predicting its possible landscape by 2030, where in a larger context the main challenge for the industry would be to meet twice the energy levels from today with half the CO2 emissions. Increasing and diversification of world's energy supplies to support the population of more than 8 billion then would be a mammoth task, given that the triangle of energy, food and water will be crucial.

Three fundamental factors that will influence and shape this setting are:

  • 1)

    Global oil products demand growth at 1.1% - 1.4% annually up to 2030 to almost 115 million barrels per day (BPD), with marginal influence of crude oil prices;

  • 2)

    New legislation targeting reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) / emissions will be strictly enforced

  • 3)

    Cleaner-burning and improved quality fuels will be essential, maximum in the transport sector which accounts 2/3rd of total demand and growth

Well-to-wheels GHG emissions would drive unconventional fuels programmes; and countries with insufficient oil resources would attempt to secure supply and reduce dependence by including Gas-derived fuels, besides supplementing with CTL, GTL and BTL into supply chain. In several cases, effect of above three key factors would be multiple and cross-linked.

While energy and climate change legislation would impact future growth of middle distillates – the largest group both in terms of refined products (> 30%) and consumption growth (1.6%-1.8%), advances in Refining technology would be influential from supply side, whereas new engine technology and optimized transportation logistics would provide efficiency gains from demand side.

During the next 15 years in the field of clean fuels, tremendous improvements in technologies would include hydrotreating and dearomatization, hydrocracking, fluid catalytic and resid cracking, reforming, and alkylation.

In the near term, besides new Refining capacity additions, increased NGL supply associated with Middle East gas production and newly commissioned GTL plants will add to the product supplies. Expected robust demand growth in Asia Pacific and Middle East may be outpaced by the supplies, with a structural change after large Middle East firmed up strategic Refinery projects and heavy-oil upgrading projects in Canada, come onstream during 2015-2018.

Both gasification and natural gas steam reforming will also grow rapidly to furnish the booming demand for additional H2 to meet the fuel-quality specifications for the future. The process design and operational control would be squeezed as a result and it is invariably the last fraction which would be the most difficult to remove!

Refineries will have to bear the rising cost of manpower, software and maintenance, furthermore, tighter regulatory and HSE scrutiny are expected to exert additional pressures on the refiners. Refining and integrated Petrochemicals business forms the backbone of global economic system and meeting the increasing demand with inevitable steady and sustainable profitability remains a major responsibility. Therefore, innovation, operational excellence and implementation of robust strategies are essential for its sustenance and growth.

The paper discusses the futuristic and economic unlocking of value by application of technological advancements and best practices in maximization of middle distillate by upgrading bottom of the barrel besides the impact of stringent product specifications on transportation fuels and fuel oil market, competition from natural gas and renewables and the regional infrastructure additions.

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