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Technological innovation to extract maximum value from crude

Jan 05, 2020
4 min read
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Thomas Gangl, OMV Executive Board member responsible for Refining & Petrochemical Operations, on how technological innovation can help to extract maximum value from crude and how the company’s existing facilities are undergoing a transformation

Downstream Oil refines and markets fuel products and petrochemicals in CEE and has recently expanded its refining business to the Middle East. It currently operates three inland refineries in Austria, Germany, and Romania. OMV is strongly integrated into petrochemicals and holds 36 per cent of Borealis, a leading polyolefin producer.

What do you see as the greatest challenges facing the oil and gas sector today?

We are embarking on an era in which our industry will need a complete readjustment: demand for oil and gas is stagnating in Europe while strong growth in Asia continues unabated.

Today it’s hard to guess which drive form will emerge victorious in the mobility sector, but it’s safe to assume there will be a broader mix coupled with a decline in conventional fuel consumption. Another decisive factor is the growing climate change, to which policymakers, society, and we ourselves must find the right answers quickly.

As long as there are no substitutes or new technologies capable of coming close to meeting the world’s growing energy demand, we will simply not be able to do without oil. That’s why the crucial thing is to use it as carefully and responsibly as possible. At OMV we call this “Oil & Gas at its best”.

But what does that actually mean?

Basically, we have to refine more oil and burn less. This is why OMV processes crude into feedstock for the plastics industry to produce the medicines and everyday items on which we all rely. And this adds value – for OMV, for our customers and for the environment.

With this in mind, OMV downstream has adopted a three-pronged agenda to transform our existing facilities. The first priority is strengthening our focus on petrochemicals and jet fuel, the second is expanding beyond Europe, and the third is reducing the CO2 footprint of our refineries. The latter is not just about cutting emissions, but also reducing the footprint of our actual products.

How does your ADNOC deal fit in with this approach?

The 15 per cent stake we acquired this year in ADNOC Refining and thereby in one of the world’s largest refinery hubs with petrochemicals has given us a powerful footing in our industry’s largest growth region. This gives us the opportunity to further internationalise our tried-and-tested refinery model, along with our expertise, quality standards, and approach to life-long learning. Our know-how was a key factor in securing this deal and reflects the importance of further education and professional development.

Another promising area is Indonesia, where we have signed an MoU with Mubadala and Chanda Asri to explore opportunities for collaboration in the petrochemical sector. However, changing backdrops cannot only be countered by improving our existing approaches. They also call for new ideas and innovations.

Such as?

ReOil for example. In addition to growing our refining capacity by 40 per cent and our olefin capacity by 10 per cent under our deal with ADNOC Refining, we have also signed a joint MoU related to this patented process and the feasibility of opening a ReOil plant in the UAE.

With projects such as ReOil, Co-Processing and our ISO C4 plant, we are already showing what tomorrow’s solutions could look like. Additional innovations must and will follow.

 

OMV downstream innovations:

The ultimate circular economy: OMV’s ReOil process has been attracting interest from across the world. It recycles post-consumer plastics waste into synthetic crude before processing it either into feedstock for the plastics industry or fuel. The unit produces one litre of synthetic crude for every one kilogram of plastic waste.

Developed in collaboration with BASF, OMV is building an ISO C4 plant for the direct production of high-purity isobutene using a brand new technology for which BASF and OMV have filed a global patent. The new unit will be integrated into the existing metathesis plant at the OMV Burghausen Refinery.

In its Co-Processing project, OMV produces more sustainable fuel without any reduction in quality

by including biogenic oils in processing in its refineries. Co-processing makes a significant contribution to increasing the share of renewable energy in the transport sector.

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