The year 2019 has begun with opening-up the flood-gates of disruptive changes across the Global Downstream Oil Industry including; United States becoming a net exporter of oil, massive capacity additions in refining & petrochemicals across Asia, global focus on digital transformation & renewable fuels, structural and geographical shifts in demand and supply trends, oscillating oil prices & the uncertainty about crude exports from Iran and Venezuela. The threat of alternate source of mobility with EVs emerging as preferred mode of mobility for the next decade, whilst providing a great opportunity for innovation, also proposes the constructive destruction of many dependable and proven processes and systems in place.
We can also clearly see, major sustainability challenges before the industry that are not just limited to; Reducing costs to remain competitive, Improving performance to ensure the valorisation of assets, Reducing the environmental footprint to meet the increasingly stringent standards and regulations & finally realigning the overall downstream operations in view of the rapid transitions across the energy industry.
Besides the above, the challenge of IMO 2020 MARPOL regulations for bunker fuel oil (to 0.5% S max without flue gas mitigation) for the world’s marine fleet is knocking at the doors. Together these trends promise to make 2019 an year with unique challenges and opportunities yet aligning the industry with the future - as we see it today.
The challenge to develop new and retrofit old processes will require mobilizing technical and human resources not just in Asian countries where new refining capacity is expanding, but also in the United States and Europe where there is a large amount of existing capacity that’s affected by alternate sources of mobility, earlier than other geographies. The effects of the developments in bio-refining, hydrogen from renewable-energy-powered electrolysers and fast changing areas of Fuel Cells etc, on the downstream oil industry cannot be ignored. Even though gasoline demand will remain high for some more time, eventually in OECD countries it will decline with increasing vehicle fuel efficiency, biofuel consumption, EVs and Fuel Cells playing major roles in mobility. This provides an opportunity for refiners to capture ever increasing polymer and petrochemical markets by gainfully using surplus naphtha.
As per an IEA report, which I quote: “Petrochemicals are one of the key blind spots in the global energy debate, especially given the importance they exert on the future energy trends. In fact our analysis shows they will have a greater influence on the future of oil demand than cars, trucks, and aviation”. According to this report by 2030, petrochemicals are set to account for one third of the growth in oil demand, and nearly 50% by 2050. In view of this, direct conversion of Crude oil to Chemicals (COTC) may become more prominent in future. Given, Saudi Aramco and SABIC have already announced their plans to set-up a 400K BPD COTC Plant by 2025 for production of 9mpta chemicals and base oil, Like diamonds, Petrochemical and polymers are for ever.
Amidst all these factors, the question is how would the markets fare as the new year kicks off? How do companies stay relevant? and how do they adapt a business model that’s served well through these energy transitions?
Providing answers to many such questions, the biennial Global Refining & Petrochemicals Congress (GRPC), India’s flagship forum; dedicated to each link of the downstream value chain, provides the right platform for participants to exchange views, knowledge and identify the right fit for achieving excellence in innovation, sustainability, safety whilst removing flab and obsolescence from every area of operations.
This confluence of great minds from across the industry value chain, is also an opportunity for the participants to comprehensively review their operations & future plans, get policy updates, acquaint with the global trends, learn about disruptive innovations, drop-in on next gen biofuels & complex integrations, improving asset integrity and reliability, explore new pathways in catalyst developments and finding the next generation opportunities provided by IIOT, AI and blockchain etc whilst achieving sustainable operational excellence.
Whether you are an asset owner, operator or a technical service provider wanting to share your specific needs with a licensor seeking to describe a new technology, a scientist who wishes to share a new development with a larger and knowledge hungry audience, an entrepreneur looking to showcase his latest innovation or an organization looking to grow leaner, competitive and sustainable, GRPC-2019 shall be your perfect opportunity to share, network, experience & grow. It’s a Forum, where You must be.
I look forward to seeing you at GRPC 2019 during July in New Delhi.Anand Kumar
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