Petroleum Products: Refining and Distillation (Lubricants, Waxes and Petrochemicals) Manufacture of Crude Oil, Gasoline, Kerosene, Absorbent, Oils, and Fuels Oils, Petroleum Asphalts

Distillation and Refining of Petroleum Products

The most dynamic industry of the century is the petroleum and petrochemicals industry. It has taken the fundamental knowledge of chemistry and chemical engineering and transformed itself from a simple processing industry for fuel and lubricants to an extremely complex chemical process industry which has branched out into synthetic rubber, plastics, fertilizers and many other fields. Petroleum (crude oil) is a mixture of different hydrocarbons. Many useful products can be made from these hydrocarbons. The fractions are separated from one another using a process called fractional distillation. This process is based on the principle that different substances boil at different temperatures. The applications of distillation in petroleum industry are quite varied. The assaying of crude oils and the evaluation many petroleum products depend on distillation. Petroleum products obtained from processes such as distillation often need supplementary purification. Refining is a process of purification of products by means of chemical process. Chemical engineering and petroleum processing have in a very real sense grown up together. Studies on fluid flow, heat transfer, distillation, absorption, and the like were undertaken and applied to wide variety of materials because of need in the petroleum processing field. The largest share of oil products is used as energy carriers: various grades of fuel oil and gasoline. Heavier (less volatile) fractions can also be used to produce asphalt, tar, paraffin wax, lubricating and other heavy oils. Refineries also produce other chemicals, some of which are used in chemical processes to produce plastics and other useful materials. Hydrogen and carbon in the form of petroleum coke may also be produced as petroleum products. Petrochemicals have a vast variety of uses. The use of petroleum hydrocarbons to make synthesis gas has made petroleum and natural gas the world main source of ammonia, the source of almost all nitrogen fertilizers. While petroleum product demand in the western world is relatively stagnant, for developing countries, particularly those in Asia, demand is booming. It is all about growing populations and their escalating need for energy.

The marketing of some products had been privatised, partly or wholly, such as LPG, lubricants, kerosene and bitumen. Products used mainly by the automobile industry (diesel and petrol) are marketed through the four public sector companies: Indian Oil (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPC), Bharat Petroleum (BPC) and IBP (now acquired by IOC under the disinvestment programme of the government with their countrywide network).

Expansion notwithstanding, the demand for petroproducts is expected to grow at around 4.5% annually in the coming years. Under the new policy with administered price mechanism abrogated, the oil majors like Shell, Exxon or British Petroleum-Ameco were allowed to sell petrol or diesel to Indian consumers provided they agreed to invest at least Rs. 20 bn over a specified period.

Of the refinery products, the middle distillates used to be in short supply, but are now in surplus. Of the total 55% of middle distillates, a share of 39% is high speed diesel oil (HSDO) and 10% is superior kerosene oil (SKO). Light distillates, which constitute more than 27% of the petroleum products, cover LPG (5%), motor spirit (10%) and naphtha (9%). Heavy distillates consist mainly of furnace oil (7.5%) and LSHS/HHS (4.5%).

Petroleum is a complex mixture of organic liquids called crude oil and natural gas, which occurs naturally in the ground and was formed millions of years ago. The refining process begins with crude oil. Crude oil is unrefined liquid petroleum, which ranges in color from yellow to black, and may have a paraffin, asphalt or mixed base. Crude oil is composed of thousands of different chemical compounds called hydrocarbons, all with different boiling points. The first processing unit in the refinery is desalination. Crude oil contains various salts and impurities that can be harmful for the other processing units. All the impurities are not removed from the crude oil in desalination unit. Crude oil is processed into a distillation column and separated into different components on the basis of boiling point. The component with low boiling points goes to the top of the tower and the one with the highest boiling point remains at the bottom of the distillation tower. The products from a crude distillation unit from top to bottom are liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), naphtha, gasoline, kerosene, diesel oils, fuel oil and residue. These products are further processed in various units to remove impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen.

Petroleum refineries are large, capital-intensive manufacturing facilities with extremely complex processing schemes. More than 660 refineries, in 116 countries, are currently in operation, producing more than 85million barrels of refined products per day. Each refinery has a unique physical configuration, as well as unique operating characteristics and economics.

Rising crude oil prices powered revenue growth as refiners have passed costs down the distribution line. Since 2011, profit has steadily recovered in line with improving demand, while low domestic oil prices further bolstered margins. In 2016, profit is anticipated to rise slightly, though it remains below historic levels. This industry is anticipated to recover over the next five years as fuel prices rise and consumption increases.

India remains one of the least-explored countries in the world, with a well density among the lowest in the world.  With the annual demand crossing above 100 million tonne, India is the fourth largest oil consumption zone in Asia, even though on a per capita basis the consumption around 0.1 tonne, the lowest in the region- This makes the prospects of the Indian Oil industry even more exciting.

Some of the fundamental of the book are the nature of petroleum, crude oil processing, distillation in the petroleum industry, refining of lubricating oils, petrolatum, and waxes, residue fluidized catalytic cracking, chemical thermodynamics of petroleum , benefits of biodiesel produced from vegetable oil, petroleum products used as fuel oils, manufacture of asphalt from petroleum, petroleum waxes, chlorinated waxes, synthesis gas etc.

The book presents information and data which will help oil companies, large scale users of commercial petroleum products in efficient storage, handling and utilization of these products. Different formulae, processes for the production of petroleum products are given in this book. This will be very useful book for new entrepreneurs, existing units, technocrats, researchers, institutional libraries etc.

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