PIL was engaged to optimize the yields and debottleneck a relatively new crude oil distillation unit of a Spanish refinery. In this case, the refinery was facing operational issues that resulted in the loss of valuable distillation products into less valuable streams. Two main reasons made this project particularly challenging. Firstly, the crude oil distillation unit was operating at approximately 40% above design capacity, which means that the columns were significantly limited hydraulically. Secondly, the crude oil was changed every 3 to 5 days, which means that optimisation solutions needed to consider various crude oil feeds and operating scenarios.
PIL used its state-of-the-art software i-CDUTM to identify investment-free solutions that optimized the yields of the most valuable distillation products while considering energy requirements, condenser limitations and flooding problems in the atmospheric and vacuum distillation columns. Results implemented on-site verified economic benefits of €7.2 million per year without any capital investment needed. PIL also delivered a roadmap of retrofit options with short payback time to allow the refinery to further increase its processing capacity. It is expected that the refinery will consider these retrofit options after their next turnaround. With this challenging project, PIL demonstrated its ability to deliver low-risk solutions that significantly improve process economics and mitigate operational problems.