Refining and Petrochemicals
Refining processes like distillation use high quality steam that must be generated from ultrapure water. Advanced wastewater treatment technologies will help the industry meet tough regulations concerning hazardous waste products from process operations. As the industry expands into water-scarce areas in India, China and the Middle East, marginal sources can help meet the demand for water. Desalination and reuse technologies will secure a reliable source of water and help the industry manage its water impact. Water technology suppliers have the opportunity to tap into a market worth $768 billion.
Crude oil, also known as petroleum, cannot be used as a fuel directly because it contains a wide range of hydrocarbons with varying chain lengths. Refining crude oil involves separating out this mixture of hydrocarbons into useful fractions that can be sold as products, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), petrol (gasoline) or lubricating oil.
Drivers for water reuse and advanced wastewater treatment technologies
There are several drivers for water reuse using advanced technologies in the refining industry.
Refinery water requirements
Complex refining operations use large quantities of water, mostly for cooling and steam generation systems. As a result, they are usually situated on the coast or on a river.
Demineralisation and desalination technologies
As discussed in figure 3.7 demineralisation technologies in the refining industry are used in the treatment of raw water for BFW and cooling tower water. Although the largest volumes of water are used for cooling purposes, cooling water requires relatively little treatment – typically just softening for a recirculating system.
Refinery wastewater contains particularly nasty chemicals – typical constituents include not only oil, but benzene, ammonia, sulphides, phenol and cyanide. Unlike other industries with on-site cooling systems, there is a significant risk that refinery cooling water will be contaminated by oil.
Wastewater treatment technologies
A typical refinery wastewater system involves primary and secondary oil/water separation followed by biological treatment and clarification. If the refinery is treating its wastewater for reuse or to meet strict discharge standards, there will also be a tertiary treatment step. Typical treatment technologies found in refineries are illustrated in the following figure.
There is huge potential for water reuse at refinery sites. For example, the CITGO refinery at Lake Charles, Louisiana, decreased its water withdrawal by 94% between 2005 and 2010. CITGO achieved this reduction by aggressively adopting reuse policies at their WWTP (which had originally been built in 1995), while upgrading monitoring and control systems. This action was taken in the wake of damage by Hurricane Rita in 2005, and a 54,000 bbl oil spillage in 2006 for which the company was fined $6 million.
Supply chain analysis
Refineries are complex facilities that need different water solutions at different times. That means that there is no one rule of thumb for procurement of water equipment. Several approaches can be adopted, and these are discussed in the following sections.
Our market forecast has been informed by the May 2012 edition of Oil and Gas Journal’s Worldwide Construction Update, which surveys refining construction activity. The following figure shows the locations of the 287 future projects in the dataset.