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Smart engineering behind boost for refinery

Smart engineering behind boost for refinery

An initiative to reprocess a waste stream normally blended to low value bunker fuels, into high value diesel and jet fuel is lifting product yields and margins at New Zealand’s only refinery.

Earlier this month engineers installed a pipeline (the “MVC bleed line”) to route the waste stream containing heavy aromatic compounds (that “poison” catalyst and reduce yields) from the hydrocracker to an existing feed preparation unit in the refinery. This strips the waste stream off those compounds in order to feed it back to the hydrocracker for reprocessing, and extract more diesel and jet fuel.

The MVC bleed line initiative was expected to lift diesel and jet fuel yields on the hydrocracker and improve Refining NZ’s Gross Refiners Margin (GRM) by USD 0.13 per barrel. Results to date show that the conversion rate on the hydrocracker – which drives product yields - has lifted from 96% to 98%, while the refiner has hit its margin target less than four weeks after installation.

Chief Executive Officer, Sjoerd Post described the initiative as an example of smart engineering by the Northland based refiner: “The neat part of this initiative is that we’re “piggy-backing” on an existing piece

of kit to lift the yield on the hydrocracker and boost margins,” he said.

“The real “a-ha” moment for our engineers was the realisation that a feed preparation unit used elsewhere in the refinery to strip the feed off the heavy aromatic compounds, could also be used to re-process the waste stream of the hydrocracker. It’s this stripping process that allows for the reprocessing of the cleaned up waste stream by the hydrocracker to extract more diesel and jet fuel.”

Post added that by the Company’s own reckoning, Refining NZ had been foregoing value on around 100 tonnes a day of hydrocracker feed: "But with some innovative thinking from our talented engineers we've taken a waste stream that would otherwise be sent to bunker fuel, and turned it into diesel and jet fuel which is consistent with our strategy to extract more from each barrel of crude to make higher value fuel products,” he said.


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