Special Report: Refiners processing heavy crudes can experience crude distillation problems

Refiners will process increasingly heavier crude slates during the next 10 years. A majority will originate from the Orinoco oil belt bitumen upgraders in Venezuela and the Athabasca tar sands region of northern Alberta. Even blended with lighter crudes, these lower-gravity blends will require crude-unit process flow scheme and equipment design changes to meet profitability objectives.This article addresses crude distillation unit (CDU) problem areas and identifies specific sections requiring investment to maintain profitability throughout a 4-5 year run length for refiners processing heavy crudes.Some heavy crudes are blends of 6-8° API bitumens combined with hydrotreated lighter pr...

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