Heavy Oil from North Kuwait does not have an intrinsic commercial value by itself. The crude is estimated to have an API in the 11-18 API range and high sulfur of >5% wt., which makes extremely difficult the processing operation in a conventional crude oil refinery. Notwithstanding, currently there are two options to make this crude marketable:
By diluting or Blending the Heavy Oil (11 API) with a much lighter crude oil to produce a blend to be placed in the open market, or
By processing the Heavy Oil in Upgrading complexes and, depending on the selected upgrading scheme, produce a range of upgraded crude oils which vary in API from 16 to 35 and have sulfur contentbetween 0.1 and 3.5 % wt.
The first option, blending the Heavy Oil with a much lighter crude oil, has the disadvantage of degrading a high value light crude oil (Between 80 and 140 mbopd of 46 API Light Crude) to produce a lower value blend (Between 140 and 800 mbopd of 16 to 30 API).
If the Heavy Oil (11 API as the worst case) is upgraded to 31 API and sold, and the Light Oil (49API), which would be degraded to make the blend is sold separately, the revenues would be very high.
kOC is studying all possible disposition options for the HO from North Kuwait. Only two options (Blending and Full Upgrading) are compared in this paper, but other options such as Refining the HO in Kuwait existing and/or new Refinery, using the HO as fuel to generate electricity, etc., will be considered and studied in detail before a final decision is made by KPC.
The technical challenge for studying this option (Upgrading an 11-15 API crude to 31 API) is to find the optimal upgrading technology and to integrate an optimal upgrading scheme capable of manufacturing an upgraded crude oil with a commercial market value, as one option to dispose the Heavy Oil. That upgrading scheme is presented, in this paper, as an option for disposition of the HO from North Kuwait.
The significance of the studied options for KOC as a National Oil Company would be the technical contribution, to the overall project economics, arising from the combination of upgrading technology with the optimum upgrading processing scheme capable of producing a viable commercial option.