The diagram also does not include any of the usual refinery facilities providing utilities such as steam, cooling water, and electric power as well as storage tanks for crude
oil feedstock and for intermediate products and end products.
For example, the vacuum distillation unit may also produce fractions that can be refined into end products such as spindle oil used in the textile industry, light machine
oil, motor oil, and various waxes.
The rather large heat energy freed by this process is directly used in the other parts of the refinery.
 Operation Raw or unprocessed crude oil is not generally useful in industrial applications, although “light, sweet” (low viscosity, low sulfur) crude oil has been used
directly as a burner fuel to produce steam for the propulsion of seagoing vessels.
However, many of the existing refineries in the United States have revamped many of their units and/or constructed add-on units in order to: increase their crude oil processing
capacity, increase the octane rating of their product gasoline, lower the sulfur content of their diesel fuel and home heating fuels to comply with environmental regulations and comply with environmental air pollution and water pollution requirements.
The hydrogen produced is often used as an intermediate product for other oil refinery processes such as hydrocracking and hydrodesulfurization.
Since the lighter liquid products are in great demand for use in internal combustion engines, a modern refinery will convert heavy hydrocarbons and lighter gaseous elements
into these higher-value products.
Chemical plants are thus often adjacent to oil refineries or a number of further chemical processes are integrated into it.
In many ways, oil refineries use much of the technology and can be thought of, as types of chemical plants.
Often an electrical power plant is combined into the whole refinery process to take up the excess heat.
 The wide array of high pressure and/or high temperature reactions, along with the necessary chemical additives or extracted contaminants, produces an astonishing
number of potential health hazards to the oil refinery worker.
Factors affecting site selection for oil refinery: • Availability of land • Conditions of traffic and transportation • Conditions of utilities – power supply, water supply
• Availability of labours and resources Refineries that use a large amount of steam and cooling water need to have an abundant source of water.
Prior to World War II in the early 1940s, most petroleum refineries in the United States consisted simply of crude oil distillation units (often referred to as atmospheric
crude oil distillation units).
Chemical exposures Given the highly automated and technically advanced nature of modern petroleum refineries, nearly all processes are contained within engineering controls
and represent a substantially decreased risk of exposure to workers compared to earlier times.
According to the composition of the crude oil and depending on the demands of the market, refineries can produce different shares of petroleum products.
 Oil refineries also produce various intermediate products such as hydrogen, light hydrocarbons, reformate and pyrolysis gasoline.
Since petroleum often contains a few percent sulfur-containing molecules, elemental sulfur is also often produced as a petroleum product.
 As early as the first century, the Chinese were refining crude oil for use as an energy source.
Another method for reprocessing and upgrading these intermediate products (residual oils) uses a devolatilization process to separate usable oil from the waste asphaltene
 Oil refineries are typically large, sprawling industrial complexes with extensive piping running throughout, carrying streams of fluids between large chemical processing
units, such as distillation columns.
 Worker health Background Modern petroleum refining involves a complicated system of interrelated chemical reactions that produce a wide variety of petroleum-based
There is usually an oil depot at or near an oil refinery for the storage of incoming crude oil feedstock as well as bulk liquid products.
Flow diagram of typical refinery The image below is a schematic flow diagram of a typical oil refinery that depicts the various unit processes and the flow of intermediate
product streams that occurs between the inlet crude oil feedstock and the final end products.
 • Sour water stripper uses steam to remove hydrogen sulfide gas from various wastewater streams for subsequent conversion into end-product sulfur in the Claus unit.
Petrochemical plants and solvent manufacturing (fine fractionating) plants need spaces for further processing of a large volume of refinery products, or to mix chemical additives
with a product at source rather than at blending terminals.
The workshop was one of the world’s earliest oil refining factories where thousands of people worked to produce Chinese oil-powered weaponry.
The majority of the gaseous production of BTX occurs during tank cleaning and fuel transfer, which causes offgassing of these chemicals into the air.
The advantages of transporting crude oil by pipeline are evident, and oil companies often transport a large volume of fuel to distribution terminals by pipeline.
This is a group of common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are found in the oil refinery environment, and serve as a paradigm for more in depth discussion of occupational
exposure limits, chemical exposure and surveillance among refinery workers.
 Petrochemical feedstock like ethylene and propylene can also be produced directly by cracking crude oil without the need of using refined products of crude oil such
Carbon, in the form of petroleum coke, and hydrogen may also be produced as petroleum products.
• Petroleum coke, used in specialty carbon products like electrodes or as solid fuel.
 Arab and Persian chemists also distilled crude oil in order to produce flammable products for military purposes.
The largest share of oil products is used as “energy carriers”, i.e.
Safety and environment The refining process releases a number of different chemicals into the atmosphere (see AP 42 Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors) and a notable
odor normally accompanies the presence of a refinery.
The differences in the structure of these molecules account for their varying physical and chemical properties, and it is this variety that makes crude oil useful in a broad
range of several applications.
There was no market for the more volatile fraction, including gasoline, which was considered waste and was often dumped directly into the nearest river.
The “alky” unit converts light end isobutane and butylenes from the FCC process into alkylate, a very high-octane component of the end-product gasoline or petrol.
A pipeline may not be practical for products with small output, and railcars, road tankers, and barges are used.
• Liquified gas storage vessels store propane and similar gaseous fuels at pressure sufficient to maintain them in liquid form.
The world’s first industrial petroleum refinery was built in Ploiești, Romania, in 1856 using the abundant oil available in Romania.
Since 25 December 2008, the world’s largest refinery complex is the Jamnagar Refinery Complex, consisting of two refineries side by side operated by Reliance Industries Limited
in Jamnagar, India with a combined production capacity of 1,240,000 barrels per day.
The CDU distills the incoming crude oil into various fractions of different boiling ranges, each of which is then processed further in the other refinery processing units.
The final step in gasoline production is the blending of fuels with different octane ratings, vapor pressures, and other properties to meet product specifications.
In 1982 (the earliest data provided), the United States operated 301 refineries with a combined capacity of 17.9 million barrels of crude oil each calendar day.
The invention of the automobile shifted the demand to gasoline and diesel, which remain the primary refined products today.
Environmental restrictions and pressure to prevent the construction of new refineries may have also contributed to rising fuel prices in the United States.
In 2009 through 2010, as revenue streams in the oil business dried up and profitability of oil refineries fell due to lower demand for product and high reserves of supply
preceding the economic recession, oil companies began to close or sell the less profitable refineries.
 • Sample of crude oil (petroleum) • Cylinders of liquified petroleum gas • Sample of gasoline • Sample of kerosene • Sample of diesel fuel • motor oil • Pile of asphalt-covered
aggregate for formation into asphalt concrete • Sulphur Chemical processes • Desalter unit washes out salt from the crude oil before it enters the atmospheric distillation unit.
The majority of petroleum is converted to petroleum products, which includes several classes of fuels.
• Storage tanks for storing crude oil and finished products, usually vertical, cylindrical vessels with some sort of vapor emission control and surrounded by an earthen berm
to contain spills.
The driving force for that growth in technology and in the number and size of refineries worldwide was the growing demand for automotive gasoline and aircraft fuel.
The large majority of the 64,000,000 metric tons of sulfur produced worldwide in 2005 was byproduct sulfur from petroleum refining and natural gas processing plants.
• Coking units (delayed coker, fluid coker, and flexicoker) process very heavy residual oils into gasoline and diesel fuel, leaving petroleum coke as a residual product.
Using the Claus process, hydrogen sulfide is afterward transformed to elementary sulfur to be sold to the chemical industry.
 The most important route of exposure for BTX chemicals is inhalation due to the low boiling point of these chemicals.
In fact, oil companies in the U.S. perceive obtaining a permit to build a modern refinery to be so difficult and costly that no new refineries were built (though many have
been expanded) in the U.S. from 1976 until 2014 when the small Dakota Prairie Refinery in North Dakota began operation.
This classification is based on the way crude oil is distilled and separated into fractions.
 However, there are many less visible hazards that endanger oil refinery workers.
Location of refineries A party searching for a site to construct a refinery or a chemical plant needs to consider the following issues: • The site has to be reasonably far
from residential areas.
Intermediate products such as gasoils can even be reprocessed to break a heavy, long-chained oil into a lighter short-chained one, by various forms of cracking such as fluid
catalytic cracking, thermal cracking, and hydrocracking.
Refineries also produce other chemicals, some of which are used in chemical processes to produce plastics and other useful materials.
various grades of fuel oil and gasoline.
Uses hydrogen to desulfurize the naphtha fraction from the crude oil distillation or other units within the refinery.
 Environmental and safety concerns mean that oil refineries are sometimes located some distance away from major urban areas.
 Through the advancement of technical chemical and petroleum engineering, the vast majority of these processes are automated and enclosed, thus greatly reducing the
potential health impact to workers.
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