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Hydrocarbon management in the oil industry involves the identification and quantification of losses and the institution of measures for their control based on environmental, financial and regulatory considerations.

Hydrocarbon accounting at refineries is a complex subject owing to a combination of factors, for example:- the large quantities of crude oils and other feedstocks that are processed; the multiple processing stages in modern refineries; the difficulty in measuring accurately certain process streams; the numerous storage tanks required for feedstocks, intermediates and finished products; the multi-modal nature of product deliveries and the uncertainties of each measurement.

As a result, refinery hydrocarbon management is faced with several problems:

  • Establishing a meaningful hydrocarbon accounting system.

  • Reconciliation of estimated loss data with actual accounting data for the refinery.

  • Statistical assessment of accounting data.

  • Identification of all the ways in which real and apparent losses can arise at a refinery.

  • Quantification of each individual source of loss, often required on a plant-by-plant basis.

  • Setting meaningful management objectives.

  • Investigation of any apparently excessive losses.

Resulting from a cooperative programme by the UK refineries with input from European colleagues and associates, these comprehensive guidelines have been

prepared that offer refineries procedures for identifying, accounting for and reducing losses appropriate to their refinery's configuration. The basis of establishing a material balance for a refinery is described and the document assesses the uncertainties of each component of loss and/or measurement.

The document provides a systematic loss accounting system that, if observed, will generate data that enable refinery management objectives to be set and monitored and meaningful inter-refinery comparisons of losses to be made. Numerical examples are provided, based on average accounting balances taken from the UK refineries. An assessment is made of the uncertainty of the overall loss figure. Contributions of individual sources of loss to the overall figure are evaluated.

The Guide examines and analyses the material balance of a refinery, using actual static and dynamic measurement as far as possible, plus estimating procedures where direct measurement does not exist or is impractical. In addition, the Guide draws attention to potential sources of refinery loss and describes ways in which they may be controlled. Particular attention is paid to specific areas of hydrocarbon management including the estimation and measurement of refinery fuel consumption, losses from flare systems, process losses and the operation of refinery slop oil systems. It includes discussion on aspects of the design, operation and maintenance of plant and equipment that influence hydrocarbon management.


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