US refineries shifting to domestically produced light sweet crudes

18 March 2013 22:58  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--US shale oil is typically light and contains very low quantities of sulphur, causing many US refiners to displace or reduce imports of foreign light sweet crudes with the domestically produced material, said a technical paper presented on Monday.

“A comparison of published assay data indicates these crudes contain a high quantity of naphtha-range material and low quantities of vacuum resid, and [they] are similar to imported light sweet crudes such as Bonny Light that are available to US refiners,” technology licensor Honeywell UOP and refiner Marathon Petroleum said in the document.

“Another consequence of the availability and processing of favourably-priced light crude, coupled with low natural gas prices and a sophisticated refining infrastructure, has lead to significant exports of refined products to other demand centres,” said the paper presented at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) annual meeting.

Some US refiners have already taken advantage of this and have begun processing these materials, predominantly from the Bakken and Eagle Ford fields.

This trend will continue to rise and impact operations more significantly as fields mature and technology develops further.

However, less heavy sour crude imports from Mexico and waterborne imports from the Middle Eastern and western Africa will contribute in offsetting that trend.

“These imports could be replaced with heavy Canadian crudes that are well-positioned to be cost effectively delivered to US refineries that have the conversion complexity and assets to simultaneously upgrade the light sweet and heavy sour materials into valuable transportation fuels,” the document said.

The AFPM annual meeting runs through Tuesday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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