Construction begins on Uintah basin crude upgrader

FUELogistics Inc. has started construction on an oil upgrader in Duchesne, Utah, specifically designed to process waxy crude sourced from the state’s Uintah basin.

The $50 million, 36,000-b/d plant will use the company’s low profile-fluid catalytic cracker (LP-FCC) technology to upgrade the black and yellow wax typically produced from Utah’s largest oil-producing region, said FUELogistics.

Codeveloped with Process Innovators Inc. and supported by grants from the US Department of Energy as well as the state of Utah, the newly patented LP-FCC technology works by substantially decreasing the pour point to make the upgraded crude more economical to transport via pipeline, rail, or truck without the expense and complexities of heating it, according to Glenn Guglietta, FUELogistic’s chief executive officer.

The LP-FCC’s low-profile, multi-reactor design also serves as a cost-effect solution for bringing the region’s crude to market compared with the more expensive conventional FCC technology typically used to refine the heavy, waxy crudes, Guglietta added.

The recent start of construction begins the first phase of what will be a three-phase master construction plan, according to the company’s web site.

Phase 1 includes the initial installation of a 2,000-b/d LP-FCC upgrade unit, which is scheduled to be completed and on line by the end of this year’s third quarter.

Phase 2 of the plan, which is due to be completed by first-quarter 2015, will add another 4,000 b/d of upgrading capacity, bringing the plant’s total capacity to 6,000 b/d.

A third and final phase of construction will increase crude upgrading capabilities at the plant to its nameplate capacity of 36,000 b/d by yearend 2015, the company said.

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