Articles tagged with "oil refineries"
Countries trade crude oil and oil products back and forth. When all of these transactions are netted out, is the US close to becoming a “net” oil exporter?
With the recent increase in oil production (perhaps even exceeding that of Russia on a “barrels-per-day” basis), a person might think that US oil production problems are behind us. If we look at the data, though, it is very clear that the US is still a long way from becoming a net oil exporter.
There are several reasons for confusion. One is the fact that excess refinery capacity can lead to the ability to export both gasoline and diesel, even though the United States continues to import large amounts of crude oil. Another is that tight oil (extracted through “fracking”) is growing from a small base, but can’t necessarily ramp up very far, very quickly. Another source of confusion is with respect to how different types of liquids should be combined for comparison purposes.
In this post, I would like to explain why the idea that the US is about to become a net oil exporter is simply a myth.
This is a guest post by Stephen Bowers (TOD user carnot) who works for Evonik, a major chemical company based in Germany. Stephen is a petroleum chemist with over 30 years experience and started his career as a mud logger drilling oil wells.
Product Demand and Disposition
Global refining capacity is in a state of flux. In the main, the refining capacity in the OECD countries is in a mature state, with refineries aging and struggling to achieve the necessary returns for re-investment. This is particularly relevant for Europe and Japan where refining margins have been poor for decades. The same applies to an extent in the US, although there has been more investment in upgrading in the US than Europe. It would be not hard to reason that high taxation of fuels may have been partly to blame. Irrespective of your point of view, the fact that refining margins are so poor - typically $2-5 per barrel - it is no surprise that much rationalisation is taking place on the mature markets.
It is worth looking at the typical disposition of the products from a barrel of oil and Chris Skrebowski's (of Peak Oil Consulting) slide Fig. 1 does it well.
Last week, I pointed out that the crude oil that comes out of the ground is not made up of a single hydrocarbon, but rather is a mix of different hydrocarbons that have to be separated. And oils from different parts of the world are formed as different combinations of these, and even those from the same country have different properties.
Today I would like to go a little further and talk about distillation curves. And then, because the world supply is changing to heavier crudes, I will go on to explain a little bit about what is involved in cracking a crude. It is a little more immediately relevant than some posts given that researchers at Purdue have just come out with a suggestion for an improved refining sequence that they claim could improve efficiency by between 6% and 48% depending on how the process sequences in the refinery are re-ordered. And the crude doesn’t have to come out of the ground. NIST have even tested some made from pig manure, with video.
In this series of tech talks, I have been writing about the progress of crude oil as it passes from the reservoir up through the production casing, and out to the GOSP, where water, oil, natural gas, sand and sulfur products can be separated. The example video that I referred to last week dealt with treating Canadian Oil Sands, and the oil that is coming from them.
What I want to talk about today is the differences that exist in what to some folk is just "crude oil," with the assumption that it is all the same. In writing about coal, it is fairly simple to show that the different stages of coal as it changes from peat to anthracite. This means that you get different amounts of energy from it, and it can be extracted with differing amounts of energy. The fact that there is a fair bit of difference in crude oils is not always as easily understood. This then will be a relatively simplistic look at the different potential hydrocarbons that might make up a crude oil, and how we can get them apart.
Crude oil is made up of a mixture of hydro-carbons, which are the different ways in which carbon and hydrogen can combine, starting with such simple compounds as methane (CH4) and progressing to more complex ones with greater numbers of carbon atoms.
Posted by Robert Rapier on December 26, 2009 - 10:35am
Tags: biodiesel, china, climate change, ethanol, exxonmobil, geothermal, global warming, media coverage, natural gas, oil consumption, oil demand, oil prices, oil refineries, t. boone pickens, valero [list all tags]
1. Volatility in the oil markets
My top choice for this year is the same as my top choice from last year. While not as dramatic as last year's action when oil prices ran from $100 to $147 and then collapsed back to $30, oil prices still more than doubled from where they began 2009. That happened without the benefit of an economic recovery, so I continue to wonder how long it will take to come out of recession when oil prices are at recession-inducing levels. Further, coming out of recession will spur demand, which will keep upward pressure on oil prices. That's why I say we may be in The Long Recession.
Not too long ago, I nearly quit writing, because I was losing control of my free time. I came to a compromise solution that has worked out well for me: I have continued to write, but I have reduced time dedicated to debates, correspondence, and addressing questions or criticisms about my essays. It is now apparent that it was not the writing, but instead the peripheral stuff that was really eating up all my time.
However, as a result of the change, some comments and questions that are directed at me go unanswered. Sometimes someone will make a criticism or comment that I would like to address, but I know it will lead to several more responses. In order to "catch up" with some of this without once again getting involved in protracted exchanges, on my way out of town for a business trip I put up a brief post inviting readers to ask questions or make comments. I hadn't originally intended to post it here, but there were quite a few topics that have been discussed at length here at TOD. So, I went through, picked out some of the questions, and took a stab at answering them.
There are questions on biobutanol, gasoline inventories, refinery margins, debunking, ethanol, investing, the future of the oil industry, where to live to ride out Peak Oil, and whether I have now lost hope. I sometimes excerpted the questions, but I linked to the originals so you can see them in complete context.
This is a guest post by Smokey. Smokey has a background in sustainability in transportation, and has conducted research on responding to fuel supply disruptions.
To what degree is the decline in quality crude affecting domestic refinery utilization rates and therefore gasoline stocks?
In recent years some analysis has suggested that light sweet crude oil may have peaked, with the world left to increasingly rely on lower quality crudes. See for example this story on The Oil Drum and this story on Energy Bulletin. Although the data on global peaking of light sweet crude may not yet be conclusive, data on the production of many regions that produce primarily light sweet crudes conclusive show that many of these regions are past peak.
In Part I, I discussed the short term factors that have resulted in the recent, rapid increase in the price of gasoline. But there are a number of underlying, long-term issues that have been major contributors. I will attempt to address them and answer a number of related questions, such as: Why have no new refineries been built in the past 30 years? Are U.S. refineries breaking down more than normal? Are oil companies purposely withholding supplies to keep prices high? Have environmental regulations played a role? Does the use of ethanol influence gasoline demand growth? The answers to some of these questions may surprise you.
On May 16th, I participated in another conference call with the American Petroleum Institute. The subject was gas prices. Since I am probably not the best person to challenge the API on gas prices, I put out an invitation at The Oil Drum for others to join the call. (The reason I am not the best person to challenge them is (1) I understand why gas prices are rising; (2) I work in the industry; and (3) I think prices should be even higher to spur conservation efforts). So, joining me on the call were 2 of my colleagues from TOD - Alan Drake and Chris Miller (Dryki). I will pull out some excerpts of our questions, but you can read the entire transcript here. I am told that they had some recording difficulties, so there will be no audio posted.
On April 18th, I participated in a conference call with the American Petroleum Institute. The topic of the call was Energy and the Environment. You can download a transcript here or the audio of the call here.
Here was a list of participants, pulled from the call transcript:
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is from Treehugger and we just went through, briefly, a blog roll. We have on the call Robert Rapier from The Oil Drum and R-Squared; Hank Green of EcoGeek; Tom Fowler of NewsWatch: Energy which is Houston Chronicle; Marc Gunther, Fortune; Mark Gongloff of The Wall Street Journal Energy Roundup; and Carter Wood of ShopFloor.org.
I think they missed mentioning John Gartner from Wired.