Shell Catalysts & Technology experts review possible solutions to improve refinery capacity.

Shell Catalysts & Technologies Revamps Hyundai Oilbank Refinery to Increase Refinery Capacity

By Changduk Cho, John Baric, and Chee Long Hoh on May 31, 2020

Combining Shell Catalysts & Technologies (SC&T) expertise in complex revamp solutions and Hyundai Oilbank’s (HDO) strong technical capability and willingness to continually invest in its facilities has led to a landmark project with results that uphold HDO’s highly competitive business.

Hyundai Oilbank has been operating an Atmospheric Residue Desulphurisation (ARDS) unit, producing feed for the RFCC unit, at its Daesan, South Korea refinery since May 2011. The unit consisted of two identical reactor trains (modules) with each module having a fully independent high-pressure section, but with a common work-up section.

HDO recognised that the ARDS process was constraining both the refinery crude diet and capacity and requested SC&T to implement an expansion revamp to increase crude flexibility, especially to heavier lower cost crudes, to make the refinery more competitive in the marketplace, creating an opportunity for increasing profits.

A Highly Productive and Strategic Relationship with Immediate Results

The strong technical team at HDO determined that they could leverage the combined power of solvent deasphalting (SDA), the biggest C5 SDA globally, plus deasphalted oil (DAO) in Mild Hydrocracker (MHC) technology to increase conversion of residue in the refinery. They looked to their long-time technology provider, Shell Catalysts & Technologies (SC&T), who has offered reliable technical service and the delivery of superior process and catalytic solutions in several previous refinery projects, to work with them on the necessary improvements.

The SC&T team has a strong knowledge of refinery design and operation as well as revamps of hydroprocessing units. Their experts evaluate and recommend customised solutions comprising licensed technologies, refining and petrochemical catalysts, and technical services.

The project goal was to increase the overall unit capacity and at the same time enable the refinery to process more difficult crudes. The project has been successfully executed over a series of expansion revamps.

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First and Second Phase Revamp to Upgrade Low Value Hydrocarbons into Valuable Products

The first phase revamp began in 2016, where Shell Catalysts & Technologies provided the technical support for HDO to expand the capacity of ARDS Module 1 and revamp the Module 2 to a DAO MHC, with combined capacity increase of 50%. The project achieved an increase in capacity, needed to process the additional vacuum residue generated from a change to a heavier crude diet.

Overall, an increase was achieved in capability for upgrading of high sulphur residue into low sulphur fuel oil and more valuable light products (e.g. distillates), from heavy crude processing.

Learn More About Residue Upgrading Technology

It took only 16 months from the beginning of the feasibility study to start up in September 2018.

HDO began phase two of the revamp in 2018 with Shell Catalysts & Technologies starting with a feasibility study plus basic engineering design package, with completion in 15 months. This revamp will accomplish the following in the two modules:

Module 1: Refinery Capacity

Capacity will be further increased by 30% with revamp of the existing single train to two parallel trains. The design cycle length will be increased by 50%.

Module 2: Refinery Cycle Length

Capacity will be further increased by 10%. The design cycle length will also be increased by 50%. The revamp project will also enable further integration of the refinery with the new Heavy Feed Petrochemical Complex (HPC).

Refinery Revamp Objectives

Both expanded and revamped modules enable the refinery to upgrade low value hydrocarbons, vacuum residue in this case, into valuable products which are expected to deliver higher margin/profit to HDO. The revamps will help HDO to achieve several objectives:

  • Increase crude processing flexibility with ability to process cheaper heavier crudes as a lever to increase refinery profit margin.
  • Capability to meet IMO 2020 by producing Marine Low Sulphur Fuel Oil <0.5wt% sulphur.
  • Provide sustainable feedstock to HPC.
  • Maximise RFCC feedstock and produce more valuable products such as propylene, gasoline, and distillate.

Third Phase Revamp to Further Improve Refinery Margins and Optimise Unit Performance

Since the first phase revamp, HDO has had success in improving refinery margins by significantly reducing their crude acquisition costs by processing very difficult heavy crudes. A third revamp phase is in development, designed to fully support the competitive crude sourcing objectives by further optimising the unit’s performance.

The collaboration between Shell Catalysts & Technologies, a leading expert in integrated refinery revamps, and the visionary team at HDO has led to a highly productive and strategic relationship with immediate results with more to potentially come.

Download the Hyundai Oilbank Refinery Case Study


Changduk Cho, Manager of Business Development Team of Corporation Planning Office, Hyundai Oilbank

John Baric, Hydroprocessing LTM, Shell Catalysts & Technologies

Chee Long Hoh, Principal Sales Manager Licensing APR, Shell Catalysts & Technologies