HYDROCARBON PUBLISHING COMPANY
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A member of the Hydrocarbon Analytics Group
VISBREAKING AND THERMAL CRACKING
Publication date:4Q 2013
Visbreaking is a thermal conversion process introduced in 1939, offers refineries an option to enhance residue conversion with moderate capital investment compared to alternative conversion processes.
The process converts atmospheric or vacuum residues to gas, naphtha, distillates, and visbroken residue to reduce the quantity of cutter stock required for fuel oils and increase overall distillate yield. With the growing demand for lighter products and subsiding demand for fuel oil, the role of the visbreaker in a refinery has been minimized. Bunker fuels, a subset of fuel oil used for powering shipping vessels are facing an uncertain future due to new sulfur regulations, high prices, and competition from other sources of fuel (diesel, LNG), further decreasing demand for fuel oil and casting even more doubt over the future viability of the visbreaker. As a result, numerous refineries have cut back on visbreaking as supported by the five year trend of decreasing capacity. In trying to keep up margins, refineries are investing in other heavy oil technologies to maximize light product yields. Still, integrated processing schemes, optimization, hardware, and fouling control including the use of chemical additives are all available for refiners looking to enhance the profitability of the visbreaking unit. Additionally, while the visbreaker may be falling out of a favor within a refinery environment it may see some niche applications in being applied for in-situ upgrading of very heavy crudes at upstream oil fields such as those in the Canadian oilsands and in the Orinoco Belt in Venezuela. The fluid catalytic cracking section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:
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thermal cracking, bottom of the barrel, heavy oil, upgrading, resid, opportunity crudes, residual fuels, residue conversion, bunker fuels, marine fuels, fuel oil, heavy oil upgrading, visbroken residue, vacuum flash, stability, cutter stock, coke laydown, soaker, coil, integration, additive, diesel, fouling, antifoulants, spalling, pigging, IGCC, cogeneration