Refining & marketing
Squaring the circle
1 October 2005
The country's band of downstream players are looking to ramp up production, while operating in a subsidised pricing environment, a difficult balancing act reports James Gavin
An upturn, at last
1 September 2005
The worldwide chemicals business climbed out of its long slump last year and achieved its best results since 1997. The sector's characteristic cyclicality points to an acceleration of the recovery this year – but high prices for feedstocks and energy could check the upturn, Martin Quinlan writes
Devising a winning strategy
1 September 2005
Refining margins have risen in recent years and should stay high for several more. Brad VanTassel, vice-president and director, and Oliver Steen, practice area manager, The Boston Consulting Group, Houston, examine the factors behind the change in the industry's structure and how investment should be handled
Big profits, big decisions
1 September 2005
Refiners in many locations are making substantial profits, mainly as a result of constraints in the industry's conversion capacity. The same constraints are a contributing factor to the present high prices for light crudes. The long view says a new wave of conversion investment is needed – but many refiners prefer the short view, Martin Quinlan writes
Shell Chemicals: a constant in a changing world
1 September 2005
The petrochemicals industry has altered immensely over the last century, but there remain certain constants. Shell is one of them, writes Martin Clark
Dolphin leaps into action
1 July 2005
The $3.5bn Dolphin gas pipeline project between Qatar and the UAE has reached some important milestones. James Gavin reports on the progress of one of the Middle East's grand projects
Get real
1 June 2005
Refined appetite
1 June 2005
Equity oil remains off the menu for IOCs in Saudi Arabia, but the kingdom's growing appetite for extending its downstream capability is offering foreign investors a new way in, reports James Gavin
Downstream drive
1 June 2005
Saudi Arabia has catapulted itself into the global petrochemicals big league, rolling out waves of new production capacity derived from its ethane-based feedstock advantage. James Gavin reports
Opec expanding horizons
1 May 2005
With refining margins looking robust, some of Opec's biggest hitters are piling in with ambitious grassroots refinery plans and plant upgrades. But, asks James Gavin, is it enough to cool overheated oil markets?
Downstream set for shake-up
1 October 2003
Turkey’s privatisation campaign has met unexpected reverses in both the courts and parliament since it began 23 years ago. But it looks as if the downstream oil sector is finally on the verge of radical change, with the majority sale of the market’s dominant refiner, state-owned Tupras. Nigel Ash reports
Exploiting the bottom of the barrel
1 September 2003
With refining margins under pressure, the industry must find ways to remain profitable. Delayed coking offers the opportunity to exploit bottom-of-the-barrel products, writes Graham Phillips, technology manager, refining, Michael Stewart, senior planning consultant, and Randy Wolf, regional vice-president, Foster Wheeler
US: a greener future for fuel
1 September 2003
Proposals to ban the gasoline blending additive MTBE will be expensive for refiners and drivers alike. Meanwhile, the switch to greener motor fuels will bring cleaner air – and a massive bill for the refiners as they adapt to meet new specifications. The result could be a drop in refining capacity. Derek Brower reports
A recovery in profits
1 September 2003
Refining margins, backed up by the companies’ first-half results, point to a substantial improvement in the business environment for the refining industry this year. Strong US demand for gasoline is the driver, Martin Quinlan writes
Refining returns to normal
1 July 2003
Although refining operations are returning to normal, sanctions have been lifted, the oil-for-food programme has been scrapped and crude output is resuming, plans to develop Iraq’s hydrocarbons resources are still dependent on the installation of a legitimate government and that could be some way off yet. David Townsend assesses the situation in the country
Still in a trough
1 July 2003
The recovery forecast for the second half of last year did not arrive, with the result that the big chemicals operators turned in generally depressing figures for 2002. The trough in the chemicals business cycle – while not as deep as previous down-cycles – is proving to be particularly stubborn, but there are hints of an improvement this year. Survey by Martin Quinlan
Singapore: busy, and changing
1 January 2003
Singapore consistently confounds the pessimists. Insiders had forecast that the growth of refining capacity in Asia’s boom economies would lead to a decline in the country’s supply role. In reality, Singapore’s independent storage facilities are busier than ever, Martin Quinlan writes
Muddling through
1 December 2000
Maximising unit profitability and utilisation
1 November 2000
AspenTech’s DMCplus™ multivariate controller played a significant role in the improved throughput of the FCC unit at Agip Petroli’s Sannazzaro refinery. The control system allowed the unit to operate at very close to its economic limits and the project achieved pay-back within two months