Monday, November 28, 2011

How many types of Crude Oil are there?

Petroleum Refiners, depending upon location, have a veritable smorgasbord of crude oil options for feedstocks. Each crude oil source has a unique combination of chemical and physical qualities which makes it unique. In a situation similar the the wine world, there are hundreds of crude oil blends and types out there.

Each Crude Oil has unique characteristics.
Some crude oil types are 'heavy' (high viscosity and gravity), some 'sour', some 'sweet', some 'light' (low viscosity and gravity), etc. Some crudes have high trace metal content, such as mercury or vanadium. All of these factors, heavy, light, sweet, sour, metal content, and much more can have a significant impact on the market value of a particular crude, and where it can be refined.

Petroleum refineries are engineered to run most efficiently (and profitably) on crude oils with a common range of physical and chemical properties. To help determine if a crude oil is a good candidate for a particular refinery, in-depth crude oil assay testing is often conducted. These tests help petroleum refinery engineers determine if a new oilfield, or an "opportunity crude oil" available on the spot market, is a viable feedstock for a specific refinery or refineries.

We've attempted to list many of these crude oil grades and types, at If you spot any missing crude oil types, please send your suggestions to this blog.

Posted by Erik Holladay.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shale Oil a Game Changer for USA Petroleum Refiners

American Refiners see Shale Oil, and like it.

It is not often a big crude oil feedstock shift happens in the petroleum refining business, but for USA refiners, big changes are coming. Shale oil technology breakthroughs have made available huge inland shale oil reservoirs, creating a very tempting, local, crude oil source for American refiners. The long established dependence on imported crude oil is going to undergo a significant sea-change, or should we say "Seaway" change? 
The world-as-we've-known-it for crude oil feedstock sourcing is literally being remade in front of our eyes. There are many factors at play with shale crude sourcing in the USA, but three of them stand out as significant aspects of this shale oil revolution; Bakken Shale Crude, The Seaway Pipeline, and Eagle Ford Shale Crude.
Shale Crude Changes the Game.

North Dakota Bakken Crude:
The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington, is shipping by rail car increased amounts of Bakken Shale crude oil, replacing declining Alaska North Slope crude which is delivered by sea tankers. Plans are to take as much as 30,000 barrels a day into the Pacific Coast refinery from Bakken by rail. Tesoro is also going to expand its Mandan/Bismark refinery, again to be fed with nearby Bakken shale oil. There is so much crude oil coming out of Bakken now that a new North Dakota greenfield refinery has been announced this week - - if the project happens it will be the first new oil refinery in the USA in over 35 years. Bakken crude tends to be high quality, with low sulfur content (0.17 to 0.20%) and high API gravity (40-42).

Seaway Pipeline to shift into reverse gear and head South:
The 500 mile long Seaway Pipeline for its entire existence moved imported crude unloaded from seagoing oil tankers to inland refiners is going to be reversed in 2012, sending new supplies of shale crude from inland areas to Texas coastal refineries. It is anticipated by the pipeline owners that with investments in added infrastructure, the pipeline will be able to ship over 400,000 bpd south to Texas. A tsunami of domestic and Canadian crude oil will flow south, likely replacing imported sources from Africa and the Middle East. There is even speculation of American shale crude oil eventually being exported from Texas by sea to foreign refiners. 

Texas Eagle Ford Crude:
Eagle Ford Shale oil is also coming into its own. Produced in southwest Texas and close to refiners in Corpus Christi and along the Gulf Coast, this new crude oil source is proving irresistible to regional refiners. Texas refiners who are or will soon be running Eagle Ford crude include Marathon Petroleum, Flint Hills, and Valero. Consumption of Eagle Ford crude at just four Texas refineries is expected to reach at least 165,000 bpd. Again, this new domestic crude source is most likely to displace imported crudes. Eagle Ford crude API gravity tends to range between 31 and 42, with low sulfur content.

The shale oil boom in places like Bakken and Eagle Ford is driving the need for expanded shale oil & gas services from oil service companies. Intertek plays an active role in supporting shale oil & gas clients with exploration and production support, crude oil assay testing, field sampling, cargo inspection, asset integrity management and more. 

The COQA (Crude Oil Quality Association) has an excellent presentation on shale oil crudes from June 2011: "Liquid Shale Plays, Niobara and Eagle Ford Focus - Production, Logistics and Refining Market Outlooks."

For an update on the Shale Oil revolution in October 2012, please visit:
Shale Oil Revolution Right for Refiners.

Blog posting by Erik Holladay.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Intertek Petroleum Refinery Services Blog Launched

Welcome to Intertek's blog focused on the petroleum refining industry. This blog will post various expert articles, service updates, news and other relevant news of interest to the global petroleum refining industry. We look forward to your comments and ideas for helping make this blog a valuable resource and service to petroleum refinery professionals.