Measurement and Testing

Maximise Heavy Oil Blending Profits - Robert Bartek and Scott Fess

Jan 13 2011

Author: Robert Bartek and Scott Fess on behalf of Rigaku Corporation

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As the world’s sweet crude reserves decline and the demand for inexpensive feed stocks continues to grow, crude blends and the world’s Heavy Oil or Bitumen reserves are likely to play a key role in supplying global energy needs for the remainder of this century. Heavy Oil or Bitumen reserves are estimated to be 53% of the world’s total oil reserves. Bringing such a product to market has challenges of its own, as they are carbon rich and highly viscous. But as the price of virgin crude grows, the refining of heavy oil into synthetic crude, and the blending of crudes to meet specific market demands, will become increasingly attractive based on fundamental economic principals and foreseeable demand patterns.

One of the key properties of refined synthetic crude, as with regular crude, is the sulphur content, as it directly impacts the price of the crude. Therefore, precise sulphur measurements are critical when optimising refining or blending operations. By optimising the process with a precise in-line measurement of sulphur content, costs can be minimised and maximum profitability can be achieved. To address more rigorous refining (Heavy Oil) and blending requirements, a new 3rd generation X-ray Transmission (XRT) sulphur gauge has been introduced by Applied Rigaku Technologies: the Rigaku NEX XT. Rigaku, a global leader in X-ray analytical instrumentation, has engineered a process gauge that surpasses previous generation technology by providing reliable real-time in-line sulphur analysis, thus allowing blending operations to operate closer to the theoretical optimal levels.

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