The goal of a refinery configuration study is to determine the optimum configuration given the pricing, objectives, and constraints of a specific project. We use a combination of sophisticated modeling tools and many years of experience to help our customers identify the configuration that will help them maximize their business returns. Our configuration studies encompass the following business perspectives:
Are the constraints real? Frequently, we work with clients who have a predefined concept of what the refinery must be capable of doing. In some cases, these constraints lead to uneconomic solutions. We work with our clients to vet the constraints early in the project.
Does the proposed configuration have the “right” flexibility? Refineries that can produce a wide range of products out of essentially any crude mix will have the highest gross margin per barrel. However, flexibility costs money. When evaluating flexibility, we carefully consider available markets, crudes, and trends to determine whether this can be justified.
Does the product slate match the market? While gasoline and diesel might obtain higher prices than liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as an example, the capability to sell at home rather than solely in far-off markets reduces risk, and provides a solid foundation for the demand projections and the projected utilization rate.
Do the units, as specified, work together? In many processing units, there can be trade-offs between yield and product quality. Producing a little more feed for one unit may greatly increase the cost of the downstream unit or even make a configuration technically infeasible. A properly executed configuration analysis recognizes these trade-offs.
Are all the risks understood and accounted for properly?
Are the selected process units technically proven? Technologies or operations with little real commercial experience represent a risk. The benefits of a new technology have to be weighed against the impact that the new technology's performance will have on the overall complex’s operation. This is especially true in cases where the company is seeking bank or bond financing.
The Petroleum, Chemicals & Energy Practice at Jacobs Consultancy maintains its own linear model databases and has expertise in both Haverly and PIMS platforms. We also use various non-linear models to simulate individual units as well as complete refinery analysis. However, we don't lose sight of the fact that the goal of a refinery configuration study is not only to provide an “optimum” configuration, but also to help our clients receive a strong return on investment over years of operation and numerous market situations.