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Optimizing the FCC Trinity: Crude Slate, Process Configuration, Product Slate

A newly released refinery study from Nikhil Kaitwade, et al with Future Market Insights Global & Consulting Pvt Ltd,Pune, India, points to the market complexities Favoring FCC processing. The study elaborates on the latest dynamics pertaining to availability of light crude and the wider price differential associated with light and heavy crude oil grades that have significantly impacted margins and crude oil sourcing dynamics among refinery operators across the globe. Against this backdrop, a significant amount of investment has been directed towards improving efficiency and optimizing the crucial trinity – crude slate, process configuration and product mix.

FMI's FCC project team

FMI’s FCC project team

To sustain and strengthen a presence in the ever-competitive global market, downstream operators have invested heavily towards upgradation of process configurations to enable processing of relatively cheaper, and heavier crude oil grades. Design of modern refineries facilitate the processing of a wide range of crude oil grades ranging from light, sweet grades to heavier, sour grades.

Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is complex but is nonetheless the most widely used conversion process adopted for monetization of higher molecular weight hydrocarbon fractions into lighter and relatively higher demand downstream products such as gasoline, distillates, and propylene, among others.

The ability of the FCC process to effect relatively higher yields of cleaner and higher-octane gasoline products as compared to other cracking processes such as thermal cracking and hydrocracking, helps provide sufficient flexibility in altering the crude slate without compromising quality of the end-product. Increasing demand for transportation fuels from emerging economies, combined with higher-quality diesel in markets with developed economies, coupled with refinery capacity additions are expected to have a positive impact on demand for catalysts formulated for the FCC process.

Moreover, growing demand for other higher value downstream products such as polypropylene is, in turn, expected to create growth avenues for the FCC process catalyst market during the forecast period discussed in the detailed study. Besides, assessing the impact of impending environmental regulations and proposed compliance options for FCC operators are among some of the other factors that are likely to render the recently completed study on the FCC catalysts market of interest to strategic planners in the refining industry.

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Posted by: Rene Gonzalez

Rene G Gonzalez is the Director for and contributing editor for As a chemical engineer (Texas A&M University: 1982), Gonzalez has worked in various engineering capacities throughout the energy industry value chain, primarily in refinery processing and operations.

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