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A Successful Case of Resid-to-Propylene Maximization at OQ

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Premium catalyst technology boosts propylene yields and profitability for OQ’s Sohar Refinery

The October 2022 issue of Hydrocarbon Processing (p. 51) features the article “A successful case of resid-to-propylene maximization using premium catalyst technology” written by a collective of authors from Grace and OQ’s Sohar Refinery in Oman.

The profound global disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many people to work remotely, reducing domestic and international travel. Consequently, oil-derived transportation fuels demand was dramatically reduced, forcing refineries to adjust well-established operating strategies and product slates to maintain profitable operations. Conversely, the demand for petrochemical products remained strong during the pandemic, which demonstrates the resilience of light olefins and chemical products.

Now, as world markets recover, demand and margins for transportation fuels are returning to pre-pandemic levels, together with a robust petrochemical market. Therefore, complex conversion units, including fluid catalytic cracking units (FCCUs) are ramping up feed rates and maximizing conversion of heavy feeds to satisfy this growing demand while adjusting the product slate for maximum profitability. In this environment, the role of premium catalytic solutions is of paramount importance in capturing opportunities to maximize value.

This article details a successful case in which an RFCCU designed to process one of the heaviest residual feeds worldwide implemented a catalytic solution to significantly boost propylene yields and unit profitability by $15.2 MM/yr. for the OQ Sohar Refinery in Oman.

At the heart of the Sohar Refinery is the RFCCU, a primary conversion unit that converts heavy residue streams into high-value products like propylene and clean fuels. The RFCCU can process up to 79,000 bpd of one of the most challenging residual feeds in the industry. Propylene is one of the main economic drivers for OQ, requiring the RFCCU to operate at high severity with a well-designed catalyst system to boost light olefins production within unit constraints while keeping LPG flowrate at maximum.

Although this RFCCU is processing one of the most challenging residual streams in the industry, Grace’s premium catalyst technology helped position Sohar Refinery to be one of the biggest FCC propylene makers worldwide. The strong resid-to-propylene performance and the unique strategic location of OQ in Oman ensure a tremendous strong profitability position towards the new energy transition era for the FCCU.

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