The convergence of two significant and revolutionary technological developments in the petrochemical industry - crude oil-to-chemicals (COTC) and oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) - are poised to have a very significant impact on the chemical industry, according to new analysis from IHS Markit, a leading global source of critical information and insight.
This analysis from Don Bari, vice president of chemical technology at IHS Markit, follows on an announcement made by Siluria Technologies, which has joined forces with Saudi Aramco Technologies: Siluria Technologies and Saudi Aramco Technologies Company join forces to maximize chemical production.
In the past decade or so, disruptive technology development and deployment have been dominant on a global basis in the petrochemical industry and largely driven by the extreme pricing dynamics of the energy industry, translating directly to fundamental petrochemical feedstocks; where such new technology has enabled deployers of capital and technology to use low-cost and locally abundant feedstocks.
One of the most significantly disruptive technologies or categories of technologies being developed, based on their sheer volume, is crude oil-to-chemicals.
These projects, in effect, merge a refinery and petrochemical plant into one, and thus, go well beyond the state-of-the-art refinery petrochemical integration by the implementation of new/reconfiguring unit operations into a refinery.
The objective is to shift the product slate derived from a barrel of oil to a range of 40 per cent to 80 per cent chemical feedstocks and non-fuel products, up from the traditional range of 15 per cent to 25 per cent, in order to significantly increase the value of crude oil reserves.
"Maximizing the output of high-value chemicals products from our future crude-oil processing projects is one of the key objectives in our downstream technology strategy," said Ahmad Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer of Saudi Aramco.
The Siluria Technologies process, which produces olefins directly from natural gas through oxidative coupling (chemistry) of methane (OCM), is expected to further allow Saudi Aramco’s future COTC facilities to create more value by converting the very low-value off-gases (largely methane) into higher-value olefins products, which improves carbon efficiency and increases the volume of the barrel of oil directed to valuable fundamental petrochemicals, he added.