Are you ready to ride the wave of the petrochemical industry growth?

Posted: September 4, 2019

Consistent growth in the petrochemical industry is expected through 2030. In emerging countries, like in Asia, where the economy is picking up, the demand for petrochemical products will keep increasing. On the other side of the globe, the U.S. is well served with cheap shale gas, leading to big investments to increase petrochemicals capacity. In developed regions, like Europe, they are investing in modernization projects, so existing facilities can operate with better safety, reliability, sustainability, and efficiency. This eminent growth sounds economically promising, but it also drives up business and operational challenges.

Global petrochemical market forecast from 2020 to 2035 (1)

How to overcome challenges in a highly complex environment?

The market dynamics and plant operations of the petrochemicals industry tend to get more complex through time. To overcome business and operational challenges, companies will need to increase their level of digital maturity.

According to a Deloitte´s Digital Transformation: Are chemical enterprises ready? report (2), reducing operating costs and/or working capital has the highest frequency for digital intervention, ahead of sales channel effectiveness and new business opportunities. Typically, when most people think of reducing costs, they immediately shift to process optimization. This is especially true for units like naphtha crackers that present one of the greatest potentials for optimization. A typical cracker unit will have dozens of operating handles to improve yield and reduce energy consumption. Improvements are magnified by its large unit capacity.

Areas of digital intervention (2)

Register for the webinar: Value Chain Optimization for Ethylene Production to learn about how a collaborative value chain optimization system that incorporates and integrates known applications provides the highest returns on investments and plant profitability.

Optimizing a cracking furnace is a good start

A standard cracking furnace will likely have Advanced Process Control (APC) to address the interactions among multiple variables and keep operations stable and within defined operating constraints. But to gain significant benefits beyond that, you must consider optimizing the APC targets. Begin by focusing on furnace yield optimization. To do so, employ Real-Time Optimization (RTO) to set optimal targets for the ratio between steam to hydrocarbons and COT (coil outlet temperature), or the severity (conversion rate), while managing furnace APC variables and physical constraints. Benefits of online optimization are well known in the petrochemical industry.

Typical benefits of online optimization

To fully optimize your petrochemical value chain, you need a strategic roadmap

While the cracker optimization generates savings, the benefits can grow exponentially when you consider all the elements. Many ethylene crackers have flexibility to achieve feedstock optimization, including the purchase, inventory, and blending of feedstocks. The scope can be expanded, adding ethylene and propylene purchases, and sales to the external market to this same optimization problem.

Depending on plant operating conditions and market variations, the benefits of a single point optimization application can be limiting. The only way to guarantee the maximum return is to have a unified solution that orchestrates all aspects of the value chain (planning, scheduling, operations, and optimization), breaking down silos to unlock the highest profitability.

AVEVA has the industry´s only unified supply chain enterprise application. Aligned with planning and scheduling strategies, customers can count on order and movement management, blending optimization and online control. Profitability is then boosted by process and utilities optimization based on real-time economic and rigorous process modeling. Our Petrochemical Value Chain Optimization solution creates collaboration and knowledge sharing resulting in more robust decision making. The effective economic benefits of value chain optimization can be up to $25 million per year for a typical ethylene plant (1 MMT/Yr capacity).

Register for the webinar: Value Chain Optimization - How Digital Strategies Can Drive Enterprise Collaboration and Unlock Additional Value to the Business to learn about the strategies and solutions in building a Digital Transformation roadmap that includes optimization of your entire value chain.

(2) Digital Transformation: Are chemical enterprises ready?

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