The economic unattractiveness of heavy crude oils in the global oil market scene is fast changing due to the looming scarcity of light oils. There are huge reserves of heavy oils to which refiners are being reluctantly attracted. The fully developed conventionally available refineries are, however, incapable of processing these heavy crudes without some major modifications of both process and equipment, which will be capital intensive. This thrust promises to be very viable and yield great benefits since heavy oil is relatively cheap. Process and equipment modification begins with the required pre-treatments of these heavy crudes to facilitate efficient and cost-effective refining. Low API gravity, high amounts of impurities, and high viscosity are the major challenges addressed in the pre-treatment section. An option for a unit for the removal of some impurities for some special heavy oils is proposed. This should be followed by a multi-stage desalting unit that may be replaced with a centrifuge and a preliminary hydrotreating unit.
Part of the book: Processing of Heavy Crude Oils