Will You Be Ready in 2020 for New Bunker Specs?


Mar 28 2017

Written by Axens


1. Selecting your best option can be complex



As a refiner you will have to cope with multiple choices:

  • Upgrade your assets to comply with the new specifications
  • Find solutions to get rid of high sulfur (HS) residues
  • Or simply wait to see what others will do, for instance if the shipping industry is to invest in on-board solutions, like scrubbers to remove SOx, or LNG bunkering.

Today, selecting your optimal solution is complex and requires an accurate understanding of market dynamics, flexibility margins of your existing assets and optimum investment solutions.

We are your ideal partner for finding your best option because Axens has focused over the last 40 years on upgrading heavy oil residues, developing technologies and catalysts, and helped many refiners in seeking optimal solutions.



2. Typical issues to be addressed in order to mitigate the risk



Let us briefly cover some of the specific questions refiners may have:

How do you produce bunker fuel oil containing 0.5WT% sulfur?

The easiest solution is, of course, to adapt the crude oil supply; but low sulfur crude oils are obviously expensive and will negatively impact your margin.

Another solution is the implementation of a dedicated residue hydrotreatment, conversion or extraction technology unit. Such technologies allow you to comply with residue sulfur specifications, depending on the origin of the crude oil and on the targeted market.

In some instances, a combination of different technologies will also be required. It is important to remember that Bunker fuel is not just about sulfur content and that product stability is also a key consideration, amongst others. Indeed, you should pay attention to the conversion unit fuel oil sediment content, as this parameter has a stringent target (IP390< 0.1wt%).

It is also important to remember that all these solutions will have an impact on the current refinery scheme, in terms of CAPEX/OPEX and plot space, which will need to be studied in detail. Additional H2 supply facilities may be requested, as well as other auxiliary units.


What do you do with the high sulfur residue when bunker is not the targeted market?


A clear picture of the current refinery situation is needed as the solution is really dependent on each site situation:

  • Analyze current and potential new market opportunities like power stations, utility generation or cement plants equipped with DeSOx and DeNOx facilities, or selling intermediate products rather than finished products
  • Evaluate the present refinery economic situation
  • Assess crude supply, as it may mitigate sulfur residue contents
  • Study the potential reduction of high sulfur residue production via conversion units or any other solution.


What will LS and HS bunker market prices be?


This is one of the key questions and is dependent on many factors.

The final bunker fuel prices will impact the given solution, as there will be a comparison between the CAPEX/OPEX of scrubber unit on-board implementation, LNG supply and the CAPEX/OPEX of additional investment in the refinery itself in order to produce 0.5 wt%S instead of 3.5wt%S.

This could modify the:

  • Production of various Fuel oil grades
  • Refiners’ vision, such as marketing intermediate products rather than having to comply with difficult fuel oil specifications


3. What if you could rely on a solid partner to help you steer through this complexity?


Axens can provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of that risk and ultimately turn it into opportunities. Our studies will provide you with:

  • A market survey used to evaluate new opportunities
  • Screening all possible options leading to a multi-criteria ranking selection
  • Optimizing impacts on existing assets

…so that you may strategically position your refinery in the new context of changing specifications. Axens is currently helping some refiners evaluate their options in order to meet these impending new environmental regulations.

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