Integrated processing for heavy crude oil

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Yadira Lopez


Energy based on non-renewable resources such as gas, oil, coal and nuclear fission, even with their serious problems of pollution, contributes to 86% of the global energy consumption. Oil will remain the dominant transport fuel: about 87% of transport fuel in 2030 will still be petroleum-based.Discoveries of conventional sources of light easy-to-access crude oil are becoming less common and current oil production levels are struggling to match demand, it is necessary to develop new non-conventional sources of oil in order to supplement conventional oil supply, whose demand is increasing continuously. A possible clue to solve this situation could be to take advantage of the extensive reserves of heavy crude oils existing in different places around the world, which could be an excellent source of more valuable hydrocarbons. In this context, some facilities called upgraders are used to process theses heavy crude oils to both increase the hydrogen-carbon ratio and improve their quality, reducing their density and decreasing their viscosity, sulphur, nitrogen and metals.The main objective in this work is to study the heavy crude oil upgrading processes in order to identify new operation schemes which explore different opportunities of integration between the upgraders and other processes or new schemes for upgraders that can sustain on its own through the production of a wide range of products.Each design alternative has been modelled with state-of-the-art commercial software packages. The crude oil dilution process was evaluated using naphtha and a light crude oil as diluents. Sensitivity analyses were done with the purpose of selecting the type and flow rate of diluent. Once the best diluent was selected, the integration of an upgrader to a refinery was studied. Heavy ends from both the upgrader and the refinery were taken as feedstocks to an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). The best operation schemes for IGCC, in order to achieve the requirements of power and hydrogen for the upgrader and the refinery was determined. Different schemes for heavy crude oil processing to produce transportation fuel instead of syncrude were proposed, too. Finally, economic evaluation of all the schemes was performed to find the best solution for heavy crude oils. The best results for the dilution process of heavy crude oils were obtained when naphtha was used as diluent. The configuration proposed for the upgrader allows producing a synthetic crude oil with 35.5 °API. The integration of the upgrader to a refinery allows the treatment of the heavy streams of the refinery and transforms them into products of higher qualities. The integration of the IGCC to the upgrader and the refinery permits a complete elimination of the heavy residues produced in these units and produces hydrogen and power to be used in the site or to export. Economic evaluation shows that all the proposed processing schemes studied are economically attractive. The proposed processing schemes chosen include the integration between upgrader refinery and IGCC unit with CCS.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Jhuma Sadhukhan (Supervisor)
Award date1 Aug 2015