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Catalyst best practices – lessons from

resid FCC units in the Middle East
Nathan Ergonoul and Maria Luisa Sargenti Grace Catalysts Technologies / ART

he Middle East expansion into the refined Middle East. Grace supplies catalyst to more
products market is driving large-scale, than 60% of the resid catalyst market, and
highly complex refinery projects. These represents 80% of the Middle East catalyst
projects include some of the world’s largest demand. To support our local commitment in
capacity FCC units, generally processing very the region, Grace is building the first FCC cata-
challenging feedstocks. lyst manufacturing facility in the Middle East
Operating large FCC units on challenging feed- near Abu Dhabi, in a joint venture project with
stocks inevitably means that the choice of FCC Al Dahra Agriculture. The first phase of
catalyst will have a big impact on overall refinery construction on the $150 million facility was
profitability. In addition to performance consid- completed earlier this year with the commission-
erations, logistics becomes critical to handling ing of a catalyst logistics silo terminal.
the large volume of fresh FCC catalysts and Detailed engineering has begun for Phase II of
additives, which can be an order of magnitude the project, and operations are expected to begin
larger than an average FCC unit. Along with that in 2018.
comes a considerable volume of spent catalyst
that is generated. Optimum Catalyst Performance
The solution is a combination of performance; To enable maximum performance of Takreer’s
the right catalyst and experienced local technical RFCC unit, Grace proposed a finely tuned resid
service support; proven logistics capabilities, FCC catalyst that exhibits high zeolite stability
including supply logistics for the management due in part to a state-of-the-art vanadium trap-
and handling of a large volume of fresh catalysts ping functionality. The catalyst also incorporates
and additives; and logistics for the environmen- advanced nickel tolerance and a balanced meso-
tally friendly management of a large volume of porosity to achieve the optimum level of
spent catalyst (see Figure 1). coke-selective bottoms cracking. This will allow
the refinery to achieve its FCC product objectives
The Market in the Middle East while helping to mitigate the contaminant metals
Originally commissioned in 1981, the Abu Dhabi present in their resid feedstock.
Oil Refining Company (Takreer) in the United One of Takreer’s specific performance objec-
Arab Emirates (UAE), recently completed an tives is to increase LPG olefins production. Grace
expansion project with the aim of increasing maximises light olefins production with low
production capacity by 417,000 bpd, taking the hydrogen-transfer activity. In addition, propyl-
existing capacity from 400,000 bpd to 817,000 ene production will be enhanced further by
bpd. The core unit in the new configuration is an Grace’s OlefinsUltra® HZ light olefins additive,
Axens IFP R2R™ RFCC. The new Takreer RFCC a patented technology used in more than
unit is one of the largest FCC units, and the larg- two-thirds of FCC units targeting maximum
est RFCC unit in the world, processing heavy propylene.
residual feedstocks with a design throughput of Maximising the performance of the cata-
127,000 bpd. lyst-additive system also benefits from
Grace is the global leader in resid catalyst and compatible physical properties of the catalyst
the preferred local catalyst supplier in the and additives that Grace has engineered to May 2016 1

evaluate catalyst management and unit . Grace & Co. efficiency. shut- Grace technology. R. for exam- ple. Grace’s superior attrition down planning. Grace’s team is able to provide expert advice on a broad range of FCC and refining topics. and capital expenditure resistance minimises losses from the FCC planning. tives of Joint Venture partner Al Dahra Agriculture as well slurry circuit fouling. tions. Supported by comprehensive analytical service capabilities. these services have been relied upon by try-leading attrition resistance. Both the FCC catalyst. and unit erosion. Grace Figure 1 The Performance – Logistics Matrix Figure 2 Key features of Takreer’s FCC Catalyst from Grace 2 May 2016 www. FCCU operational and mechanical troubleshooting. Throughout the history of fluid catalytic Nektor™ ULCC. and the additive exhibit indus. a hallmark of many oil companies for unit optimisation. As the market leader in FCC catalysts. which allows for a health check on FCC opera- complement each other. benchmarking. including cyclone performance. Grace’s engineers bring experience from across the industry with design. process. The Grace technical service team is highly expe- rienced in refining.digitalrefining. Based on this experience. catalyst circulation and aeration. as Grace employees and contractors in late March 2015 In addition to regular follow-ups. Grace regularly assists with troubleshooting service around issues that impact FCC perfor- W. stripper Fred Festa (second from left) was joined by representa. Grace provides independent critical review services. Grace’s technical service team ensures that the value of the cata- lyst is optimised through regular performance reviews. operation. Technical Support Realising the full value from the catalyst requires a highly experienced technical service team. and provide specific recommenda- tions to optimise unit operations. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer mance. cracking. Grace technical service engineers regularly visit refineries to review unit operating data. especially in the field of FCC design and operation. and continuous optimi- sation of the catalyst formulation and unit operation. and trouble- shooting expertise.

as well as our major manu. mass balance.digitalrefining. with storage and handling facilities for a a permit to collect. heat balance. manufactured FCC catalysts. and Grace customers in the region to make rapid headquarters in the United States and Germany. and large volume of fresh catalyst and additives. and operator exposure to the catalyst by elimi- acterisation. feedstock char. Grace has invested significantly in Spent Catalyst Disposal local production. super sacks. Grace shares this close to the refinery is to allow FCC catalyst accumulated knowledge with customers in semi. The workshops are offered at customer sites and Working with Grace’s local FCC catalyst regional locations. May 2016 3 . Grace has supply. and troubleshooting strategies. maintain Grace’s position as the leading supplier in the region. These workshops cover such bulk trucks helps limit the risk of environmental topics as catalyst fundamentals. as re-sell Ecat and fines generated from Grace well as the expected volume of spent catalyst. delivery by bulk truck rather than in smaller annual workshops specifically designed for FCC packaging. production plant enables Takreer and other facturing plants. Phase 1 of a new grassroots The disposal of large amounts of spent catalyst FCC catalyst manufacturing plant was completed (Ecat) in an environmentally friendly way is an in 2015. and to two months to just a few days. unit nating dust emissions associated with the use of optimisation. bags. Phase 1 provides Takreer with secure important consideration for refineries. Local facilities Catalyst Handling benefit refining companies in the region by To handle the large amount of FCC catalyst and reducing reformulation time from approximately provide security of supply for Takreer. handle. unique pool of FCC Another benefit of having logistics facilities experience and know-how. Figure 4 Grace’s catalyst life cycle management solution in the Middle East www. reprocess. research centers. Delivery in process engineers. for example. catalyst reformulations to meet changing opera- tional or product objectives.Figure 3 Grace’s industry-leading technical support has built up an extensive.

as well as disposal requirements for the Catalysts and Additives considerable volume of spent catalyst. and logistics capabilities. Grace has safely exported and service. which are Drawing on extensive catalyst manufacturing fully in compliance with REACH regulations. the combination of high usage rates and a metals.000 MT of spent cata. formulation . Grace is reworked more than 30. As capabilities. requires Fluid Catalytic Cracking extraordinary logistics capabilities. Grace has an agreement to rework such remote location requires local investment. as demonstrated with the Oman.digitalrefining. The trend toward large. committed to the overall success of our custom- lyst from the large resid FCC unit at Orpic in ers. materials through various outlets. For Ecat containing high levels of contaminant cases. technical an example. and FCC units with combined catalyst and additive usage rates More articles from: Grace Catalysts Technologies/ART several times that of typical. establishment of Grace facilities in the Middle East. And. In some 4 May 2016 www. LINKS scale refinery complexes. Grace is uniquely positioned to rapidly Conclusion meet the challenges of future FCC operators Maximising FCC profits requires selection of the around the world. supported by an extensive techni- cal service team with a broad background in FCC and refinery operations. right catalyst. average-sized FCC More articles from the following categories: units.