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Bea Technologies: The blending of different crudes might create serious problems for refineries.

Published 15 June 2017 | By Bea Technologies SpA

The recent trend of blending a variety of crudes appears to be increasing as many Western refineries try to buy cheaper heavy and lighter grades on the spot market to blend them together in order to use them in their plants.

Refiners are trying to blend undiluted heavy crudes with super-light condensates or tight oils to the individual need of a refinery in order to help the refinery to maximize yields or maximize a specific product such as diesel or gasoline. The scope is to ensure delivery of a mix of compatible and consistent crude oil for further blending or direct processing. In the US there is a plan to construct a terminal that will combine an in-line blending system to allow simultaneous blending of many different types of crude, to provide a 'specified' crude blend for a given customer based on current market conditions.

This situation has caused hard times for Latin American oil companies who really have to struggle as the heavy crude they produce requires much more expensive, sophisticated technology to refine. So refineries in Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico need to import various types of light crudes, and sell overseas the heavy material that they have problem to process at their own relatively simple refineries.

The blending of different crudes create in fact strange properties due to the high proportion of lower-value heavy products like fuel oil and asphalt with a reduced fraction of valuable medium distillates, fact which enhance the processing problems for current up-dated refinery configurations. For many refiners the unbalance of the different qualities of products may cause equipment failures, plugging of heat exchangers, reduced efficiency of catalytic process and even problems regarding safety. These issues all result in higher crude processing costs.

BEA Technologies can propose its FEED automatic self-cleaning filtration system to separate the contamination contained in the blended products and mitigate the potential problems caused to refinery equipment. The contamination is due to metal inorganic particles, residual salts and various aggregates of asphaltenes, resins and wax, which recombines when the dynamic equilibrium of parts in solution is disrupted during blending.