ROMANIA DOWNSTREAM 2015 CONFERENCE
- Written by Lavinia Iancu
The Downstream segment of the national oil and gas industry was marked by significant operational and technology performance in 2014. The main players on the relevant market during this period recorded increases in the operational income, increases in quantities of raw materials processed, streamlining and improving the flow of operations, increased flexibility, reduced polluting emissions; the figures for the first half of 2015 confirmed the positive dynamics of this business area. This is the context in which the conference ROMANIA DOWNSTREAM 2015: REFINE YOUR STRATEGY - TURN CRUDE OIL INTO VALUE, held in Bucharest, offered the participants the latest information on the situation of the refining capacities in Romania, on the strategies to improve operational performance, projects to expand the fuel distribution network. In the focus were the most advanced technological solutions dedicated to the sector.
The situation of the refining capacities in Romania
In Romania, four refineries are currently operating, of which only three are processing oil: Petromidia Navodari (the largest refinery in the country), with a refining capacity of 5 million tonnes/year; Petrobrazi - processing 4.5 million tonnes/year; Petrotel-Lukoil, with a processing capacity of 2.5 million tons/year; Vega Ploiesti, the oldest unit in operation (1905) and the only domestic manufacturer of bitumen and polymer modified bitumen, the petrochemical division - with a production capacity of 220,000 tons of polymer/year.
“2015 was an exciting year for the refining industry, by the fact that, amid the falling oil prices, the Downstream sector recorded positive operational results, growing margins, increased sales, benefiting from the growing demand for petroleum products, a trend likely to continue next year,” said Andrew Costin – President, PETROLEUM CLUB OF ROMANIA, in the opening of the conference.
Continuing the topic, Eugen Popitiu - Adviser on Oil and Gas issues with the MINISTRY OF ENERGY, SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED ENTERPRISES AND BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT, said the sector has an advantage against other segments of the oil and gas, not being strongly influenced by lower oil prices and has confirmed the growing trend of margins and demand, including at international level, noting that the traders are storing significant quantities of petroleum products. While production remained somewhat constant in Romania, the quantity of imported crude oil decreased to 500,000 tonnes of oil equivalent (in January 2015 – our note, by 15.5% lower than the quantity imported in the same period of the previous year, according to INS), the government representative also said.
SOCAR plans to expand the filling stations network in Romania
A new field for SOCAR, the state oil and gas company of Azerbaijan, the Downstream activity has aroused its interest just two or three years ago, said Hamza Karimov – CEO SOCAR ROMANIA. The manager has developed, alongside the description of major regional interconnection projects, SOCAR’s plans to expand the filling stations network in Romania, focusing on a nationwide presence. The major target: the significant increase of the market share, while maintaining the quality of services, either through the acquisition of other filling stations, or by building new filling stations.
The investments will continue, depending on the flexibility on behalf of authorities. Analyzing the challenges of the international fuel market development in times of crisis - unpredictability, poor infrastructure, high taxes, Hamza Karimov urged solutions should be found to overcome the situation without significant losses. At the same time, the Azerbaijani company’s representative reiterated the company’s intention to contribute to the development of the transport of hydrocarbons to Moldova and Hungary. The benefits of the AGRI project were underlined, given that financing, quite difficult to attract, will be supported by the European financial institutions. Last but not least, the SOCAR CEO noted the main goal of the Azerbaijani state for the next period - extracting a quantity of at least 40 million tons of oil per year, so that it becomes one of the major suppliers in Europe! In summary, the future plans of SOCAR pursue three directions: the involvement of all stakeholders, authorities and companies in order to maximize resources; developing the infrastructure at a national level and the interconnections at a regional level; flexibility, on behalf of the authorities, in terms of issuing construction permits for the filling stations.
Opportunities and services offered by BRENNTAG and CECA
The recent collaboration between BRENNTAG and CECA, sealed in early July this year through an exclusive agreement, has resulted in new opportunities and services dedicated to the oil and gas industry. It is about the distribution of molecular sieves for oil & gas applications at European level. BRENNTAG, a global leader in the distribution market for chemicals, operates an extensive international network of offices and warehouses serving over 170,000 customers. CECA, a subsidiary of the French Arkema group, under the mentioned cooperation, brings a 40 years experience and a wide range of specialty products and solutions for fields such as natural gas, petro chemistry and refining, chemicals, industrial gases, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, building, automotive industry.
Laurentiu Ghita - Oil & Gas Business Development Manager, BRENNTAG, included in his presentation general and technical characteristics of the molecular sieves (operating principles, manufacture) range and typical applications for the refining industry (a variety of adsorbents for various purposes), the CECA solutions and products for the petrochemical industry. The products come together with optimized solutions to reduce costs and technical support (to obtain the optimal variant, performance evaluation, tests, troubleshooting). It also provides service and operators training assistance, operation procedure review and assistance, start-up assistance, supervision and control during the operations.
HONEYWELL – Advanced control software implementation
The advanced control software implementation as a way to reduce operational costs and to increase product yield was the topic of the HONEYWELL exposure, world leader in automation and control solutions for the process industries. The two company representatives, Jachym Vohryzek - Advanced Solutions Sales Manager CEE, and Razvan Constantin - Business Development Manager HPS Romania have carried out an analysis of the requirements and major challenges faced by the customers in the refining industry, followed by suggestions for a number of solutions to ensure a higher safety degree, reliability, efficiency and sustainability in the entire production chain.
The Advanced Software Solutions Portfolio, centred on collaboration within units, comprises areas of interest such as production management, operations excellence, process history & analytics, process design. The benefits consist mainly of optimizing the profitability, anticipating opportunities and risks, achieving peak performance without incidents, reduce capital spending and operating and maintenance costs, reduce energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, etc.
EMERSON PROCESS MANAGEMENT, solutions to improve the reliability of the downstream segment in Romania
Worldwide, EMERSON, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), provides various products and services structured into five business platforms (Process Management, Industrial Automation, Network Power, Climate Technologies, and Commercial & Residential Solutions). The company, which reached a total of approximately 3,000 employees in Romania (in Cluj), this year celebrates 125 years of existence. EMERSON PROCESS MANAGEMENT, the most important business segment, accounting for 36% of all business, provides solutions that lead to better management of maintenance costs, improved reliability and increased profitability.
For the Downstream sector, Sebastian Ferecus - General Manager South East Europe, has exposed the main solutions of reliability applicable to various departments within the production unit, the values underpinning the improving of all activities (availability, reliability, profitability) and the major sources that generate losses during the production activity (unplanned shutdowns, restarts installations, pipe failures, shutdowns for maintenance, etc.). With regard to improving the reliability, the Emerson representative outlined the inversely proportional ratio of this parameter against the injury rates. The conclusion drawn from the Emerson presentation points out that the top performers benefit from optimized elements and from a fully connected value chain connecting the entire interdependent activities.
Fugitive emissions monitoring program of BUREAU VERITAS
BUREAU VERITAS Group, with an international presence in over 140 countries and 180 years of experience, has a broad business portfolio including areas as diverse as the industrial field (marine and offshore, oil and gas, construction, etc.), consumer products, government services and international trade, in-service inspections and verification, certification. On the list of services for industry, an important place is taken by fugitive emissions monitoring - leak detection and repair programme discussed by Claudiu Gavrila - New Product Coordinator, BUREAU VERITAS ROMANIA. The fugitive emissions, a problem related to activities in the sectors of exploration & production, refining & marketing, gas treatment, petrochemicals, chemicals, etc., can be kept under control with technologies for detecting, measuring and repairing leaks. He presented the main sources of emissions (equipment using various sealing devices), the causes, detection and measurement devices and their operating principle, case studies and the results achieved by the programme. The company representative pointed out at the end the main benefits of using the technologies: compliance with the Law on industrial emissions (no. 278/2013), increase in profitability, health and safety improvement, environmental care, maintenance improvement, reducing production losses, image improvement of the company, etc.
The risk assessment produced by the human factor in the preliminary hazard analysis (PHA)
The analysis of Cantemir Mambet - Risk Management & QHSE Expert, revealed significant steps in the risk assessment introduced by the human factor during the production processes. Starting from the first and most important stage of risk management, namely identifying the potential hazards, attention was focused on the human factor (subjective) that directly or indirectly influences the level of potential risks in the system in which it operates. It was found, for instance, that human error (management system) contributed to the cause of more than 85% of the accidents reported.
The expert noted that the human factor is analyzed in two ways: as human error – source for relevant risk scenarios and as a factor impacting performance. Reviewing the categories of human factors and examples of approaches to the treatment of human factors and human error, he concluded that it is preferable to elaborate a separate study on the subject (the human factor) to be included in the risk analysis (PHA), an issue requested also by the regulatory bodies.
Using artificial intelligence in fuels reformulation
Topical issue internationally, the obtaining of cleaner and less polluting commercial petrol drew the attention of the teaching staff of the PETROLEUM-GAS UNIVERSITY of Ploiesti. Thus, under the coordination of Prof. Ion Onutu, PhD. Eng. Bogdan Doicin conducted a study that addresses the issue of optimizing the mixing recipe for the formulation of commercial gasoline, which is important especially given the fact that currently the refineries are designed to process huge quantities of gasoline and even a small saving leads to a significant increase of the annual profit. The paper includes a comparison between two mathematical models, a classical one, based on mathematical equations, and the other one based on the modern concept of artificial neural networks, includes also an experimental part, the creating and training of an artificial neural network, results and conclusions. According to the results, the authors submit suggestions for choosing the optimal mathematical model, depending on the input data.
Instead of conclusions: challenges and prospects for the future
The refining industry in Europe is still going through a difficult period, during which the units are facing a complicated economic environment, caused by the changes in demand for oil, in profit margin and in regulations, which become more environmentally severe. The main challenges are seen in the pressure on profitability and in the need to invest more and more to meet the new rules on fuel quality and pollution cuts. Latest reports estimate a decline in the refining capacity in Europe by around 16% until 2020. On the other hand, the refining capacities in China, India and in the Middle East are expanding, under less stringent regulations, discouraging thus the European market in the production costs chapter. As future perspectives for the downstream segment and related activities, the strategic directions aim to improve the entire flow of operations specific to the refining and petrochemicals activities, trading - supply with raw materials, retail - marketing, to reducing operational costs, increase profitability, alongside increasing the financial, operational and portfolio flexibility.