Interview with ExxonMobil's Dan Moore
President, ExxonMobil Catalysts and Licensing LLC
Dan, you’re joining this year’s Technology Trend Setters panel alongside UOP, Axens and Shell Global Solutions, what headline technology shifts do you foresee in response to the growth of petrochemicals?
The crude to chemicals trend will drive a shift in technology and run plans. The traditional refinery configuration generally maximized fuels production and chemicals were typically limited to opportunistic removal of aromatics compounds for benzene, toluene and xylene sales. Given the increasing global demand for chemicals products, the relative slower growth in demand for fuels and fast approaching tighter environmental regulations, the traditional refinery will need to change to remain relevant in the marketplace.
The key factors for an integrated Crude-to-Chemicals run plan include:
1. Maximum conversion of feedstocks into chemicals and minimization of fuels products
2. Material balance flexibility (feed and product) to adjust with changing market drivers
3. Energy optimization (fuel and power) to reliably and economically meet the needs for high conversion process demands
4. Environmental capability to meet stricter emissions laws
5. Configuration optimization to meet CAPEX and OPEX goals
The major changes for a chemicals focused run plan require a step change increase in conversion of gas oils and resid to light liquids by adding additional process units.
What do European refiners need to do short, mid and long term in order to maximize their petrochemical capabilities and capacities?
Shifting from relatively low value residue to higher value liquids is the fundamental yield shift most refiners are looking for. This long-term strategic shift requires investment in technology solutions such as ExxonMobil FLEXICOKING™. We recently awarded a FLEXICOKING license to Sinochem Hongrun Petrochemical Co. Ltd. It’s the sixth new FLEXICOKING unit licensed in the last seven years. The technology thermally converts heavy oils – such as vacuum resid, oil sands bitumen, deasphalter bottoms and FCC bottoms – to lighter, more valuable products.
In the short to midterm, refiners must have a continual focus on improving energy and process efficiencies in each refining step to stay competitive. ExxonMobil Diesel dewaxing can help customers get more from their hydroprocessing capacity by improving distillate yields – A US refiner implemented MIDW technology as a drop-in catalyst, with only minor modifications in order to improve diesel yield and quality with payback achieved in less than two months of operating the new system.
To continually improve process and energy efficiency, and to help meet stringent sulfur emission standards, ExxonMobil and BASF Corporation recently announced the initiation of a full scale commercial demonstration of a new gas treating solvent at Imperial Oil’s Sarnia Refinery. The companies jointly developed the new amine-based technology, and expect to raise the bar for the performance of tail gas treating and acid gas removal processes.
ExxonMobil is presenting on your FLEXICOKING™ Technology during the conference, what are the main energy and environmental benefits of the technology?
ExxonMobil FLEXICOKING™ is a resid-upgrading technology with minimal coke by-product, an environmentally friendlier alternative to delayed coking. The cleaner flexigas produced can lower SOx and NOx emissions as well as being used as fuel in refinery boilers and furnaces and/or for steam and power generation. If you are looking to convert difficult feeds to high value products, especially at sites where energy is limited due to logistics or high costs, ExxonMobil FLEXICOKING™ can provide a cost-effective solution.
What you are looking forward to at this year’s ERTC?
Collaborating with our customers to solve shared challenges is the focus of ExxonMobil Catalysts and Technology Licensing group. During the conference I’m looking forward to hearing new ideas and discussing ways we can help potential customers succeed.