What do you see as the most important factor influencing the global market for refining and petrochemical products?
As global market demand for refined products trends towards cleaner fuels and upgraded petrochemical products, refiners face the challenging task to extract ever more value from their existing infrastructure while stemming necessary CAPEX investments. We also understand the necessity to reduce CO2 emissions during the refining process and to serve an increased demand for hydrogen used in bottom-of-the-barrel upgrading processes.
Tightening regulations and a slowing demand for middle distillates, diesel and fuel oil are driving refiners – small and large – to rationalise and consolidate their operations in a move to supply sectors with higher growth potential. Fortunately, through smart planning, strategic partnerships and technological solutions, that challenge can be mastered.
What products and services are you looking to showcase at ME-TECH 2020? What are some of the key points that are going to be highlighted?
Endress+Hauser temperature engineered solutions help refiners to extract maximum performance from new and existing units with direct effects on product quality, throughput and safety. Innovative iTHERM MultiSens multipoint thermocouple assemblies enable operators to accurately monitor temperature profiles of crucial hydrotreating, hydrocracking and FCC units in particular. Our customers benefit from reliable control within tighter process parameters, a more efficient catalyst activity and ultimately more yield.
What are some of the key trends in downstream technology that you think the industry should be paying more attention to? And why?
Digitalisation offers more potential than refiners sometimes believe possible. With constant advancements in sensor technology and measuring instruments generating vast amounts of valuable data for process automation, refiners are empowered to tune their units to maximise performance while at the same time formulate reliable maintenance strategies to reduce unplanned downtimes. Intelligent asset management, diagnostics and predictive behaviour modelling holds great potential to optimise the entire downstream process value chain.
What do you see as the most prospective direction for refiners and petrochemical plants in the Middle East (refining and petrochemical integration, zero fuel oil production, specialty chemicals, etc.)?
We see a clear trend towards a consolidating shift in the fuel oil production, with an expanding market for plastics and specialty chemicals in the Middle East and beyond. Global demand for petrochemical products will undoubtedly pick up the decline in lower-value products. For refiners, this means a move from a push-oriented operation to a flexible market-pull business. Again, technology is key in supporting the transition to building an infrastructure capable of quickly adapting to varying feedstocks and product demand.
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