Meeting Archives

1999 Spring: Denver, CO, Feb 2

Crude Oil Quality Association
Denver, CO
February 2, 1999

The meeting agenda was distributed to those in attendance. There were 40 attendees of which 17 paid the attendance fee.

Legal Review of Anti-Trust – Mr. Don Hamilton of Gary-Williams passed out “Benchmarking and the Antitrust Laws” and “A Model Antitrust Compliance Manual”. Don went over several of the important statements in each of the papers. All attendees were urged to read the papers on their own. Non-attendees may request copies of these papers from the facilitator. The Standard Setting Rules, found on under "Information", are always a part of any COQA meeting and follow the guidelines set forth in these papers.

Crude Oil Properties and Their Effect on Linear Programming – Mr. Tim Ferritto of BP Amoco overviewed how many crude oil properties can affect crude values generated by a linear program (LP). The refining LP is basically a mathematical model which replicates how a refinery operates and processes different crude oils.

Properties of crudes oils are extracted from laboratory assays, formatted and stored in the LP database. Contrary to popular belief, there are many crude oil properties besides gravity and sulfur (i.e. distillation, nitrogen, naphthalene content, aromatic content, con carbon, metals, etc.) Each one of these affects one or more of the refinery operations and/or product yields. The impacts of crude oil properties are determined by accurate correlations built in the LP which tie crude oil properties with refinery operations, product yields, and product quality. Typically, distillation (crude tower yield) is the most influential property but any characteristic can be important, depending on the specific refinery kit.

Consistency between received crude oil quality and assay data used by the LP is critical to the optimization success. Typically, the LP will fill the conversion units with the most economical crude slate/recipe. The more closely the LP crude assay data matches delivered quality, the more accurate the crude recipe. Variances in delivered crude oil quality will lead to less optimal crude slates. Even so called "good" variances, such as lighter or sweeter, can lead to lost revenue. This is because the benefits of lighter crude cannot be captured due to operational limits and other units, destined to be filled by the heavier end of the crude, are left underutilized. The underlying effect is less salable product, thus loss revenue.

Most refiners do "retro's" to calibrate the LP. In this process, actual past refinery operations are compared with what the LP projected. Differences are closed by tweaking variables within the LP. For more precise calibration, refineries will do individual plant tests for each refinery process. This allows the refinery to key into certain variables, eliminating many gray areas which come about when looking at the refinery as a whole. It is important to calibrate the LP model so it will more accurately represent real operations.

BP Amoco North American Pipeline Crude Quality Programs – Mr. Jeff Northing of BP Amoco presented an overview of the new North America business unit for BP Amoco Pipeline. The operations are split into Mid Continent, Southern and Offshore, Rocky Mountain and Southwest business districts. 100 samples are taken each month throughout the four districts and are tested for gravity, sulfur, RVP, light ends, resid metals, mercaptans and organic chlorides. The specific tests performed on a particular sample vary by district.

BP Amoco refinery labs do all the testing. In general, the program is reactive with results available within two weeks of the sample being taken. Once a quality problem is identified, however, a proactive role in resolving the issue is taken. Reports are issued monthly to BP Amoco Pipeline personnel. Quality incidents are tracked through to resolution, documented and reported quarterly. Although there are no formally published specifications or enforcement procedures, BP Amoco Pipeline approaches problem areas and attempts to rectify ongoing quality problems. The quality data are shared with shippers on a historical basis when problems arise.

Mars Crude Web Site - Dan Stamp of Shell presented an overview of the Mars Crude web site. The web site has general access available to anyone and is intended to provide customers with quality assurance and information on changes in the crude. Each month composite samples of outgoing batches are taken, commingled and tested. The testing information is posted along with the latest assay data, available for downloading at no charge. Much of this information can then be used in the customer’s own refining optimization model.

Mars crude is changing. It is currently at 160MBD and projected to increase to 200MBD within a month and possibly to 500MBD within two years. However, even with 6 or 7 producers and the increased volume, the crude is fairly consistent due to the LOOP cavern delivery method.

Correlation between Crude Properties and New Technology - Terry Thompson of ITS Caleb Brett presented information on Emission Spectroscopy utilizing an Atomic Emission Detector (AED). AED is a powerful chromatographic technique that permits the detection of over 25 separate elemental species including carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen and several transition metals. Proper method development and instrument calibration can allow the investigator to separate and quantify different elemental species with a high degree of precision and sensitivity (parts per billion detection limits in most cases). Applications already developed include sulfur species distribution for crude oil and distillates, defining and quantifying metals or nitrogen in feedstocks and process intermediates, and the determination of carbon/hydrogen ratios in process steams.

Overview of Crude Oil Quality Round Robin No. 5 - Mr. Gerald Lekberg of Williams presented the results of Round Robin No. 5. Forty samples of LLS were distributed, 29 labs returned results in time for tabulation.

Capline Common Stream Recommendation Update - Mr. Bob Goodmark of Equilon Pipeline reported that the LLS specifications have been in effect since October 1, 1998. Although Notices of Violation have been distributed as necessary, the violations during the fourth quarter of 1998 were not counted. Violations beginning January 1, 1999 will be counted for the enforcement process. Implementation of the LLS specification process has been smooth.

TruTest approached the COQA with a new methodology. TruTest uses software to characterize light ends, including true vapor pressure. Patrick Malone of Equilon evaluated the process and it has merit. TruTest will be invited to share their ideas with the COQA, most likely during the Round Robin meeting, our clearinghouse for new technology.

Specification Recommendation Techniques Revisited - Poppy Toole of Koch approached the group with a possible problem concerning the lack of specified methodologies. The greatest concern is most likely in the area of the High Temp Sim Dis, where an approved ASTM method does not yet exist. The light ends parameter also may prove to be difficult to specify one method. The other parameters do have approved methodologies available, which can and will be specified by Capline.

Poppy sent out samples of two crudes to three labs for a test run on High Temp Sim Dis. The results received were quite variable. Poppy requested and received the procedure from each of the labs and did find differences.

Most labs currently follow the manufacturer's recommendation for their particular equipment, which could lead to variation in technique. It was noted, however, that the Capline specifications were based on 95% confidence limits from test data accumulated over a two year period. The resulting 100 degree F range should allow for testing variability. The COQA will look into writing an interim method for High Temp Sim Dis to be utilized while waiting for ASTM. COQA members were encouraged to contact ASTM urging expediency in producing an approved method.

Basin Testing/Analyses Update – Mr. Aaron Dillard of Conoco and Mr. Don Hamilton of Gary-Williams reported that the Basin Subcommittee (renamed the Mid-Continent Subcommittee) has established recommendations on parameters for the Sweet and Sour common streams. The proposed standards will be presented to all connecting carriers and terminals in the Cushing area as well as to Equilon Pipeline, the operator of Basin. NYMEX will also be approached due to their involvement in the Cushing area. Super Sweet, a fairly recent designation in the system, will need more data gathered before specifications can be designated. Please note that Nitrogen is now targeted for testing and will most likely be added to the list of parameters when sufficient data are available.

Update on OilMonitor – Ms. Julie Banner of PricewaterhouseCoopers updated the group on OilMonitor. The system is up and running with raw assay data, whole crude property trends and discussion forums on line. The crude oil groupings have been finalized although suggestions are still solicited. An assay analysis tool has been selected (Haverly’s H/CAMS) and the interface between it and OilMonitor is being developed.

Update on CCQTA Projects - Mr. Bruce Kennedy of PetroCanada presented the status of the CCQTA project work. A proposed limit on phosphorous in crude of 10ppm is being reviewed. A handbook of crude contamination chemistries and screening protocols is a deliverable from the Additive Screening Project. It was requested of Bruce that the handbook be made available to others and Bruce agreed to look into that. Other proposed projects are a relaxation of the BS&W specification in crude and a program to expand crude testing, similar to the Basin and Capline work.

COQA Budget Report – The year-end 1998 financial report and the 1999 budget were presented. The 1999 Steering Committee, made up of the COQA funding members, is comprised of BP Amoco, Conoco, Equilon, Farmland, Gary-Williams, LOOP, Marathon/Ashland, NCRA and Williams. 

Other – Ms. Tish Marshall of the COQA enlightened the general meeting attendees of the Steering Committee’s conclusions from their February 1 meeting concerning our 1999 focus. To start with, a sign up sheet was passed around and each attendee was requested to list the pipelines of interest to their company. Tish will go over the list to ascertain areas of common interest that COQA might address. Also, the COQA will attempt to expand membership into other regions, such as the Salt Lake City area and California. Thirdly, many different methods to test for water in crude have evolved. A sign up sheet was passed around for this topic as well. If there is enough interest, perhaps a study group will be formed to see if the COQA can add value by studying, evaluating, recommending, etc. any particular method.

Of general interest, a new membership listing will be sent to all current members this quarter. Also, a memo outlining our successes and future path will be directed to the general membership in the near future.

As always, all members are urged to contact the facilitator with areas of interest and/or specific agenda items.

Next Meeting - The next meeting of the COQA will be held on June 3 in Houston.