“Where Is My Octane ?” – Recognizing Benefits in Blending Optimization Projects

October 30, 2018

By Anas Dabbakh

Having gone through multiple blending optimization / quality giveaway reduction projects, I have been involved in multiple discussions about how such projects’ benefits are realized at a refinery. And this is a very interesting question – where did all the saved octane-barrels go?

It is important to understand that quality giveaway (octane, RVP, V/L, T50, etc.) reduction cannot be successfully sustained without some specific changes to refinery planning, gasoline scheduling and execution processes. For example, reduction in octane giveaway will increase the refinery octane pool. Without taking actions to rebalance this pool, the refinery eventually will start giving it away again. There are several strategies the refinery can undertake to “tie-up” saved octane (or RVP, volatility) barrels, and make giveaway reduction last:

– Change blendstock purchasing from high-octane valuable to lower octane blendstocks (ex. low octane natural gasoline, butane, etc.). This may also have additional benefit from increased gasoline production, thereby lowering cost per barrel.
– Lower own production of high octane / high value components. For example, lower Reformer unit severity, or change to a different (less efficient) catalyst, etc.
– If lowering high value components cannot be achieved, or has limitations, then sales of this component in the open market can be considered. Obviously, market conditions should be favorable to such component sales.
– Shift production profile to more premium gasoline, which requires (“consumes”) more octane.

These strategies can be used in combination. Their successful implementation requires close coordination between production planning, scheduling and lab testing.