We read constantly about the hard times that refiners are having in Europe, and how narrow the margins are, but in a recent article in Hydrocarbon Processing ExxonMobil are upgrading their Slagen refinery in Norway with a new residual flash tower.
This is on top of a recently announced major upgrade at their Antwerp facility.
What do we read into this? Either times aren’t quite as tough and there is money to spend on further improvement, or margins are really tight and improvements are being made to keep the operations viable.
On a personal note, I was offered a job with Exxon Mobil a few years ago and was very tempted, it was just the location down in Southampton (and moving Vicky out of school) that held us back.
It also reminds me of a Crude Unit study I worked on a few years back where we added a Flash Tower to a crude column – to improve operability and enable the refinery to process different crudes from those it was designed to handle.
Ahh the good old days of Process simulation and plant modelling – these days I spend most of my day playing with manpower plans and justifying progress, I do miss the technical days, some times.