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Situation
The company is active in the upstream and downstream sectors – from exploration and production, to refining, petrochemicals and gas transmission. PetroChina’s refined products include gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and lubricants, which it distributes across China. Dalian Petrochemical, in Dalian, Liaoning Province, is one of PetroChina’s main refineries. 

China, in common with most countries in Asia–Pacific, is facing an increasing demand for energy. In response, the government is encouraging refiners to increase processing capacity to meet the demand. However, the country is also experiencing a shortage of  domestically produced crude oil and is  increasing imports to make up the difference. 

Imported crude oil presents a considerable challenge for refiners. China’s refineries were designed to process domestic crude, which has a relatively low sulphur content, and they may have difficulty switching to some of the higher-sulphur-content imports, for example, those from the Middle East. In addition, the requirement to produce fuel that meets more stringent environmental regulations compounds the considerable pressure to adapt that the country’s refiners are experiencing. 

Solution
PetroChina is meeting these challenges  head-on. It has successfully increased its processing capacity following the recent  start-up of a new 10-MMt/yr crude distillation train at Dalian Petrochemical refinery. The train, which comprises crude-distillation,  high-vacuum and naphtha-minus units, incorporates several elements that help to optimise operations and reduce energy consumption. For example, the crude distillation train is designed to be heat  integrated – heat that would normally be wasted is recovered and reused in other processes, thus helping to make the unit more energy efficient.

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High energy—Dalian Petrochemical meets refining challenge with successful start-up of new crude distillation train