The fossil fuel industry has long been at the epicentre of global climate change agenda in line with the net zero commitments of all major economies. Powered by this global movement & a deep focus on renewables, the industry was facing an ambiguous future. If that was not enough, the continued rise & fall in oil prices, structural shifts in demand supply trends & geopolitics of limiting supplies from Iran and Venezuela, saw supply chains of global oil markets being severely constrained.
The unprecedented disruptions due to Covid-19 & the current Ukraine crisis have further shown that the industry tryst with daunting challenges continues in one form or other. These trends may accelerate going forward & greater changes will come over time. The permanent shifts in the industry’s ecosystem also mean that the rules of the next normal will be arduous.
Faced with these unprecedented challenges that threaten their financial and physical resilience, refining companies will need an entirely new DNA to prepare for the opportunities and threats in the new world that lies ahead once the immediate series of crisis is past. This age of transformation and continuously shifting global marketplace necessitates implementation of disruptive innovation technologies and strategies for the global downstream industry, dramatically shifting its focus towards a sustainable and energy efficient operating model to survive and ultimately thrive.
Strong commitment to carbon reductions would require utilizing major technological initiatives to defer refining emissions not limiting to biofuels, carbon capture, hydrogen & electrification. While Biofuels and the replacement of high-emissions feedstock with greener and cleaner alternatives has proven to be the most cost-effective and carbon-effective route to emissions mitigation. Carbon Capture Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) has often been presented as a frontrunner in the solutions gambit for refiners.
An added benefit of CCUS is the creation of ‘Blue’ Hydrogen as a by-product of the process. Hydrogen is anticipated to takeover sections of industrial gas supply. On the other hand, electrification of refineries will be the catalyst for lasting change within the industry. By powering refineries through renewables, there is the dual benefit of reducing emissions and expanding clean energy.
Electrification also comes hand-in-hand with the digitalization of refineries. The development of ‘digital twins’ to analyse production capacity and improve efficiencies in real-time, is another indicator of the methods in-place to mitigate Carbon, Nitrogen and Sulphur Oxides from the refining process as much as possible.
And while all these initiatives are the frontrunners, it’s important to note that refiners have long excelled in integrating modern advances in order to maximize efficiency. While mitigation technologies will make the difference, ensuring the greatest efficiency of processes is core to ensuring a sustainable and lasting impact. By focusing on integration of petrochemicals, efficiencies of energy systems and the capture of emissions, the refining industry has integrated measures to achieve decarbonisation and set itself on the road to net-zero.
The Global Refining & Petrochemicals Congress (GRPC) – India’s flagship downstream industry forum was instituted to facilitate collaboration on emerging challenges whilst building pathways for new downstream models that are agile, digital-led & resilient.
Themed “Future Downstream – Innovative, Resilient & Sustainable”, GRPC 2023, will bring together, face to face, hundreds of policy makers, asset owners, licensors, contractors, technology majors & equipment suppliers from over 200 organisations.
Scheduled during 29-30 June 2023 at Hotel Le' Meridien, New Delhi, the 7th edition of the Global Refining & Petrochemicals Congress would offer a highly interactive knowledge exchange, bringing in fresh and objective perspectives on the global downstream industry, it’s challenges, opportunities & outlook!
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