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Processing & Refining Crude Oil

Chevron’s Pascagoula Refinery processes 330,000 barrels (thirteen.9 million gallons) of crude oil a day – an quantity equivalent to the size of a football field coated to a depth of 40 ft.

Operators management the refining processes using hello-tech computer systems located in management centers situated throughout the refinery.

Hello-Tech Course of Control
Utilizing the most recent electronic expertise to observe and control the plants, operators run the method units 24 hours a day, 7 days every week. From control rooms situated in every Operations space, operators use a pc-driven process management system with top petroleum companies console screens that display color interactive graphics of the plants and real-time information on the status of the plants. The method control system permits operators to “fine-tune” the processes top petroleum companies and respond instantly to process changes. With redundancy designed into the control system, protected operations are assured in the occasion of plant upset.

Refining’s Fundamental Steps
Most refineries, regardless of complexity, perform a number of fundamental steps in the refining process: DISTILLATION, CRACKING, TREATING and REFORMING. These processes occur in our essential working areas – Crude/Aromatics, Cracking I, RDS/Coker, Cracking II, and on the Sulfur Restoration Unit.

1. Distillation
Modern distillation entails pumping oil through pipes in sizzling furnaces and separating mild hydrocarbon molecules from heavy ones in downstream distillation towers – the tall, slim columns that give refineries their distinctive skylines.

The Pascagoula Refinery’s refining process begins when crude oil is distilled in two large Crude Units that have three distillation columns, one that operates at near atmospheric strain, and two others that operate at less than atmospheric stress, i.e. a vacuum.

Click on the picture for
Distillation Column Diagram
During this course of, the lightest supplies, like propane and butane, vaporize and rise to the top of the primary atmospheric column. Medium weight materials, together with gasoline, jet and diesel fuels, condense in the middle. Heavy materials, known as gasoline oils, condense in the lower portion of the atmospheric column. The heaviest tar-like materials, referred to as residuum, is referred to as the “bottom of the barrel” because it never actually rises.

This distillation process is repeated in lots of different plants as the oil is further refined to make various merchandise.

In some cases, distillation columns are operated at less than atmospheric pressure (vacuum) to decrease the temperature at which a hydrocarbon mixture boils. This “vacuum distillation” (VDU) reduces the possibility of thermal decomposition (cracking) because of over heating the mixture.

As a part of the 2003 Clear Fuels Challenge, the Pascagoula Refinery added a brand new low-stress vacuum column to the Crude I Unit and converted the RDS/Coker’s VDU into a second vacuum column for the Crude II Unit. These and other distillation upgrades improved gas oil recovery and decreased residuum volume.

Using the latest laptop management programs, refinery operators exactly control the temperatures in the distillation columns that are designed with pipes to withdraw the assorted forms of products where they condense. Products from the top, center and backside of the column travel by these pipes to totally different plants for further refining.

2. Cracking
For the reason that marketplace establishes product value, our competitive edge depends on how effectively we will convert middle distillate, gas oil and residuum into the very best value merchandise.

At the Pascagoula Refinery, we convert middle distillate, gas oil and residuum into primarily gasoline, jet and diesel fuels by utilizing a series of processing plants that actually “crack” giant, heavy molecules into smaller, lighter ones.

Heat and catalysts are used to convert the heavier oils to lighter merchandise utilizing three “cracking” methods: fluid catalytic cracking (FCC), hydrocracking (Isomax), and coking (or thermal-cracking).

The Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) uses high temperature and catalyst to crack 86,000 barrels (3.6 million gallons) each day of heavy gas oil largely into gasoline. Hydrocracking makes use of catalysts to react gas oil and hydrogen below excessive stress and excessive temperature to make both jet gasoline and gasoline.

Also, about fifty eight,000 barrels (2.4 million gallons) of lighter gas oil is transformed every day in two Isomax Models, using this hydrocracking process.

We mix most of the products from the FCC and the Isomaxes immediately into transportation fuels, i.e. gasoline, diesel and jet gasoline. We burn the lightest molecules as gasoline for the refinery’s furnaces, thus conserving pure gasoline and minimizing waste.

In the Delayed Coking Unit (Coker), 98,000 barrels a day of low-worth residuum is converted (utilizing the coking, or thermal-cracking process) to excessive-value mild merchandise, producing petroleum coke as a by-product. The big residuum molecules are cracked into smaller molecules when the residuum is held in a coke drum at a excessive temperature for a time frame. Solely strong coke stays and have to be drilled from the coke drums.

Modifications to the refinery during its 2003 Clear Fuels Mission increased residuum volume going to the Coker Unit. The project increased coke dealing with capacity and replaced the 150 metric-ton coke drums with new 300 metric-ton drums to handle the increased residuum quantity.

The Coker typically produces greater than 6,000 tons a day of petroleum coke, which is sold to be used as gasoline or in cement manufacturing.

Whereas the cracking processes break many of the gas oil into gasoline and jet gasoline, additionally they break off some items which are lighter than gasoline. Since Pascagoula Refinery’s major focus is on making transportation fuels, we recombine 14,800 barrels (622,000 gallons) each day of lighter elements in two Alkylation Units. This course of takes the small molecules and recombines them in the presence of sulfuric acid catalyst to transform them into high octane gasoline.

Three. Treating (Eradicating Impurities)
The merchandise from the Crude Items and the feeds to other models comprise some natural impurities, such as sulfur and nitrogen. Utilizing a process called hydrotreating (a milder version of hydrocracking), these impurities are removed to scale back air pollution when our fuels are used.

Because about eighty percent of the crude oil processed by the Pascagoula Refinery is heavier oils which can be excessive in sulfur and nitrogen, various treating items all through the refinery work to remove these impurities.

In the RDS Unit’s six 1,000-ton reactors, sulfur and nitrogen are faraway from FCC feed stream. The sulfur is transformed to hydrogen sulfide and sent to the Sulfur Unit the place it is transformed into elemental sulfur. Nitrogen is transformed into ammonia which is faraway from the process by water-washing. Later, the water is treated to recuperate the ammonia as a pure product to be used in the manufacturing of fertilizer.

The RDS’s Unit most important product, low sulfur vacuum gas oil, is fed to the FCC (fluid catalytic cracker) Unit which then cracks it into high value products corresponding to gasoline and diesel.

Four. Reforming
Octane score is a key measurement of how properly a gasoline performs in an vehicle engine. Much of the gasoline that comes from the Crude Items or from the Cracking Models doesn’t have sufficient octane to burn effectively in vehicles.

The gasoline process streams within the refinery which have a reasonably top petroleum companies low octane ranking are despatched to a Reforming Unit the place their octane levels are boosted. These reforming items make use of treasured-metal catalysts – platinum and rhenium – and thereby get the name “rheniformers.” Within the reforming course of, hydrocarbon molecules are “reformed” into high octane gasoline elements. For example, methyl cyclohexane is reformed into toluene.

The reforming course of truly removes hydrogen from low-octane gasoline. The hydrogen is used all through the refinery in numerous cracking (hydrocracking) and treating (hydrotreating) models.

Our refinery operates three catalytic reformers, the place we rearrange and change 71,000 barrels (about three million gallons) of gasoline per day to present it the excessive octane vehicles want.

Product testing

A last and demanding step is the mixing of our products. Gasoline, for instance, is blended from treated components made in several processing models. Mixing and Transport Area operators exactly combine these to ensure that the blend has the precise octane degree, vapor strain ranking and other necessary specifications. All merchandise are blended in a similar trend.

Quality Management
Within the refinery’s modernly-geared up Laboratory, chemists and technicians conduct quality assurance checks on all finished products, together with checking gasoline for proper octane score. Techron® Chevron’s patented efficiency booster, is added to gasoline on the company’s advertising and marketing terminals, certainly one of which is located at the Pascagoula Refinery.