Assay Marketing: Responding to the supply chain disruptions of the crude for your base blend

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Posted: May 2, 2022

Disruptions to the oil and gas marketplace present refiners with several challenges that necessitate increased measures of agility and resilience to respond accordingly. In the case of recent supply-chain upheavals, many refiners have been forced to recalibrate their blend processing at a moment’s notice.

Typically, refineries aim to process a blend of crude oils, to which they apply specific constraints and yield goals based on a predetermined configuration. For practical purposes, refiners often define a “base blend” of crude oils, which is usually composed of commonly available grades. A base blend is a typical blend of various crudes with specific properties that are processed to meet the refinery’s production specifications. Refiners then evaluate and incorporate other crude oils with respect to this base blend.  

 When a part of the base blend is unavailable, refiners often replace it with another crude oil of a similar yield and quality and a crude that is often from a similar geography as those in the base blend. If a set of typically run crudes become unavailable and no suitable substitution is available, the refinery’s base blend often becomes unfeasible, and, as a result, refiners must investigate new crude combinations that are feasible.

For instance, the recent conflict in Ukraine is causing many oil and gas companies to avoid Russian crude oil. Urals (crudes from Russia) are a typical marker used in base blends in Northern Europe’s refining operations. The replacement of crudes, such as Urals, with crudes of non-Russian origin may result in unfeasible blend scenarios.

Traditional planning tools can help ease the transition from one feasible blend space to another that may have a very different composition. However, the traditional tools can be inefficient, and it can be time-consuming to carry out in-depth analyses of so many potential scenarios.

By leveraging digital tools, such as AVEVA™ Unified Supply Chain Assay, refiners can check the feasibility of various crudes faster and more efficiently. After refiners identify a particular blend as feasible, they can run additional simulations to determine the potential ramifications on operations and, eventually, optimize the refinery with the new base blend.

When moving from one base blend to another, time is of the essence. A refiner can expect that the competition is doing the same. Being able to eliminate crudes and evaluate feasibility faster results in a competitive advantage, giving refiners the ability to lock up a supply of replacement crudes before the competition finishes their analyses.

Whether due to foreign conflicts, sanctions, social unrest, or equipment failure, there will always be a time when a refinery needs to change a crude in their base blend. AVEVA Unified Supply Chain Assay can help you evaluate your options and determine feasibility, whether it is a short-term switch or long-term substitution.

The software also has a nearness tool that can help you start your evaluation with crudes that are most likely a good fit. The nearness tool easily identifies crudes with key similarities to a reference grade a refiner already knows will work well.

Learn more in our most recent white paper, “The new era of energy: Achieving oil and gas profitability and sustainability in a volatile market.