Technology special-VII: What kind of gains are possible in refineries?
Once crude oil has been produced, much of it is converted to fuels in refineries. 8Mainstream refining processes are mature technologies and only incremental efficiency or process improvements and cost reductions will be noticed than transformational changes, with the possible exception of processing of bio-products. 8Generally, operational excellence, in areas such as cost performance, availability, and product optimization, is anticipated to be more significant in reducing costs than new conversion technologies. 8By the mid-2020s, energy facilities are routinely expected to use remote-controlled maintenance, real-time process optimization and autonomous inspections. 8Technologies that enable such developments include data standardization, big data, wearables – such as smart watches or activity trackers – artificial intelligence, robotics and edge computing, where computers located at the sources of data complete some processing functions whilst also interacting with others over the networked computers of the ‘cloud’ 8With such technologies, refinery maintenance can increasingly become preventative rather than reactive, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. 8The prize is significant, given that a 1% increase in mechanical availability has been estimated to result in greater safety and a 10% reduction in maintenance costs. Click on Reports for more.