Project Synopsis

Provide independent process owner’s engineer services in an effort to validate that an overseas oil refinery design/build project meets client objectives, reduces overall risk, and evaluate alternative refinery configurations.

Project Summary

The client is an overseas oil refining company that is working with a financial institution with a goal of designing and constructing a greenfield modular refinery.  The financial institution contacted Process Engineering International, LLC (PROCESS) with a request to provide independent process owner’s engineer services in an effort to validate that the design/build project meets client objectives and to reduce overall risk of both the oil refining company and the financial institution.

The initial intent for the project was to provide a “cold eyes” design review of a mid-size refinery Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) with a downstream Gas Plant, to help identify design gaps or issues. The refinery was initially designed by a modular design and fabrication company as a Topping Unit designed to produce distilled, unfinished products.

The client changed the project’s objective based on a new marketing report and wanted to know what was required to produce finished products (LPG, Gasoline, Jet/Kerosene, Automotive Diesel, Resid type Fuel Oil) to meet Euro-5 air quality standards. In addition, the client changed the crude feed slate to include a significant amount of lighter crude oils. The original “cold eyes” design review turned into a scoping study for the design of a new refinery producing finished products.

To implement the change in objectives, PROCESS performed the following:

  • Reviewed the existing Topping Unit design.
  • Developed a HYSYS simulation for the Topping design to verify its performance for both one of the new, lighter crudes and the heavier, design basis crude.
  • Reviewed the required product specifications for meeting Euro-5 air quality standards and developed a corresponding set of product property specifications based on European, USA, British, and Nigerian standards. The capability of the products for meeting these property specifications directly from the CDU without further processing was evaluated. It was concluded that significant upgrading of the refinery, requiring additional units, was required.
  • An analysis of the crude oil assays was performed using HYSYS to determine what additional process units were required. PROCESS developed and issued an order-of-magnitude capital cost estimate for three options. Option 1 maintained the original yield structure with minimal additional plant additions to produce on-spec Diesel. Option 2 also maintained the original yield structure with additional plant additions to produce on-spec Diesel, Gasoline, and LPG. Option 3 matched the assay yields as closely as possible to produce on-spec Diesel, Gasoline, LPG, and Kero/Jet Fuel.  (It was decided to proceed with Option1: maximize Diesel product and add a Hydrotreater for producing on-spec product.)
  • Performed a HYSYS CDU simulation for one of the lighter crudes and for the heavier, design basis crude. These simulations were made to determine modifications required to maximize Diesel and to produce on-spec products, as much as possible, directly from the CDU. The following modifications and additions were recommended:
    • Upgrade of the CDU design to handle both the heavy and lighter design basis crudes.
    • Re-design of the Gas Plant to handle both the LPG and Naphtha products. The original Gas Plant design proposed by modular design/build company did not process the Naphtha, was too small to process all the gases from the lighter crude oils, and represented a design typical for a Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) plant rather than for a Saturated Gas Plant in an oil refinery.
    • Addition of a new Distillate Hydrotreater (DHT) to process either the Diesel or the Jet/Kerosene products during separate runs
    • Addition of a new Hydrogen Plant to produce the required DHT hydrogen
    • Addition of a new Sour Water Stripper
    • Addition of a new Low Pressure Amine Recovery Unit.
  • Prepared process engineering documentation describing the changes and the work required to design and construct the refinery.  The process engineering documentation was prepared to serve as the technical documentation for a Request for Proposal (RFP) to be sent to Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors and modular design/build vendors to proceed with completion of front-end engineering and to proceed on to detail engineering design, procurement, and construction of the refinery.

Industry Type

Petroleum Oil Refining


Utilized Skills

  • Independent process design review
  • Refinery process design
  • Refinery revamp alternatives evaluations
  • EPC bid request package technical support.

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