hydrocarbons, residuum desulphurization is a costly process,
both in terms of capital and operating costs. An alternative path
for the displaced high sulphur residuum is processing via delayed
coking followed by distillate desulphurization. As was discussed
earlier in this article, coking converts heavy residuum into light
products (e.g., distillate fuel, similar to MGO, meeting the
required sulphur limit of 0.5% maximum) and petroleum coke.
RFO typically contains 70% vacuum tower bottoms
(residuum) and 30% diluent (e.g. kerosene), so currently
approximately 2.1 million bbl/day (120 million tonne/year)
vacuum tower bottoms (i.e. potential coker feedstock) is
consumed by the maritime industry. If the refining industry
selects coking to accommodate 50% of the residuum currently
consumed as bunker fuel, then approximately 1.0 million bbl/day
(~60 million tonne/year) of coking capacity will need to be
installed. This new coking capacity will produce about 20 million
tonne/year of petroleum coke; currently approximately 45
million tonnes/year of petroleum coke is traded in seaborne
KEYSTONE XL HEAVY CANADIAN CRUDE PIPELINE
One of the first actions of Donald Trump after he became U.S.
President was to approve the 98,969,615 l/day Keystone XL
pipeline. This 1,897-kilometres (1,897km) pipeline, which runs from
Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, is the final
link between heavy Alberta oil sands crude oil production and
U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
It is not a foregone conclusion that Keystone XL will be built as
TransCanada, the pipeline developer, has just begun soliciting firm
transportation commitments, and the economics of Alberta
crude oil production are less attractive now than when
TransCanada began developing the pipeline. TransCanada has
said it will proceed if it gets firm commitments to transport
26,829,113 l/day through the Keystone XL pipeline.
If the Keystone XL pipeline operated at full capacity and
exclusively displaced light, sweet crude oils at U.S. Gulf Coast
(USGC) refineries, then USGC petroleum coke production could
increase by 20%. On the other hand, Keystone XL would have
no meaningful impact on USGC petcoke production if Alberta
crude oil exclusively displaced heavy Mexican or Venezuelan
crude oils as the yield of petroleum coke per barrel from these
crude oils is virtually identical to Alberta crude oil petcoke yield.
The reality is that the Keystone XL pipeline will probably cause
some increased USGC petcoke production but not a 20%
In conclusion, the seaborne petroleum coke market has been significantly affected by factors often outside of its control, and outside factors will likely continue to significantly impact the seaborne petroleum coke market. DCi
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ben Ziesmer (Group Manager)
Contributing editor to Jacobs Consultancy’s Pace Petroleum Coke Quarterly©. He has an in-depth background in the power sector, including experience in procurement, operations, environmental compliance, and engineering. He leads Jacobs Consultancy’s fuel-grade petcoke practices and has been the project manager for numerous studies involving the fuel-grade petcoke market, environmental issues, and power generation.
Jesus Cabello (Group Manager)
Jesus is a contributing editor to Jacobs Consultancy’s Pace Petroleum Coke Quarterly©. He has more than 36 years of experience in petroleum product marketing, refinery planning, operations, and technical support. He has conducted a number of configuration studies for heavy oil upgraders, refining and petrochemical facilities, optimization and debottlenecking of existing facilities, technology screening studies, and due
diligence for investors, and has strong experience developing operations best practices. Prior to joining Jacobs Consultancy, Jesus held a variety of technical and management positions a: PDVSA, CITGO, Shell, Lummus Technology, KBR, and Foster Wheeler.