Understanding Gasoline Quality Giveaway
At a refinery, gasoline is produced to regulatory or customer demanded specifications, and exceeding these specifications is considered gasoline quality giveaway, costing individual refineries millions of dollars a year.
What is gasoline quality giveaway? Let’s say a gas station selling premium gasoline as 91 octane – this is a specification. If a refinery produces a 91.5 octane product, the refinery is giving away 0.5 octane. In addition to octane, giveaway also exists for other characteristics of gasoline such as RVP, T50, and TVL (also known as V/L). This giveaway is often not a one-off or accidental occurrence but is systemic, and it exists for most gasoline produced at the refinery.
Structural Versus Non-Structural Giveaway
Structural giveaway is pre-determined giveaway caused by constraints like tankage limitations, specification restrictions, inventory limitations, measurement precision, and octane length/hydrogen demand. Structural giveaway often cannot be avoided or requires additional capital expenditure or CAPEX to prevent. Fortunately, structural giveaway only accounts for approximately 70% of the giveaway at a refinery so there is still an opportunity to save millions of dollars a year without CAPEX.
Non-structural giveaway is giveaway that is preventable with system, process, and behavioural changes. These changes do not require CAPEX and can be implemented in approximately six months. At Trindent, we focus on reducing non-structural giveaway by implementing scheduling, operations, and laboratory improvements:
- Scheduling – During scheduling, blends are planned based on several factors, and gasoline recipes are created. At this stage, increasing confidence in blend predictions allows the planner to reduce buffers and ultimately reduce giveaway. Trindent works with refineries to improve recipe design by implementing butane planning and management tools, developing statistical based tools for optimizing recipes, validating ethanol uplift models, implementing blend prediction accuracy best practices, and tracking giveaway and other relevant metrics weekly.
- Operations – Once a recipe is complete, it is sent to operations to be blended. Blend operators execute the recipe and control the components entering the blend. Trindent optimizes execution of blend recipes by reducing blend operator variability and implementing blend execution best practices. We reduce variability by providing your workers with enhanced training, standardizing blend adjustments based on blend component properties, creating communication feedback loops, and implementing dashboards that track key performance indicators (KPIs). By reducing blend variability and empowering your workers, we also reduce octane and volatility giveaway.
- Laboratory – The laboratory becomes involved when start-up or mid-blend samples are taken and after a blend is complete to validate the blend properties and certify the blend. Trindent’s team of Quality Giveaway Consultants provides your laboratory with the tools it needs to increase instrument accuracy. To ensure analyzer excellence, Preventative Maintenance [note to draft: Link to Refinery Maintenance Best Practices blog] is used to prevent failures, while control charts are used to monitor, troubleshoot, and resolve instrument readings.
Refineries often believe that reducing gasoline quality giveaway is impossible without CAPEX; however, our experience at more than twenty different refineries has proven that a zero CAPEX solution exists.
Understanding that quality giveaway is preventable without CAPEX is the first step to reducing giveaway. The second step is understanding what quality targets are right for your refinery and to look for the signs of giveaway.
The author of this article – James Greey is a Senior Consultant at Trindent Consulting.