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PDVSA will commercialize a heavy-oil upgrading process

By Gerald Parkinson |

Venezuela’s state-run petroleum company, PDVSA Petroleo, S.A. (PDVSA, Caracas; www.pdvsa.com), will commercialize a company-developed process for upgrading heavy crude oil in its Puerto La Cruz refinery, about 300 km (190 miles) east of Caracas. The 210,000-bbl/d plant will employ PDVSA’s HDH Plus process (for hydrocracking, distillation and hydrotreating) to produce light and middle distillates and vacuum gasoil from heavy crude. The refinery specializes in light crude oil products and the new facilities will enable PDVSA to expand the output of such products from Venezuela’s abundant heavy crude reserves. HDH is said to have a conversion rate of more than 90% in a single pass, versus about 65% for traditional processes. The process operates at 450–480°C and a moderate pressure of 1,900 psig. It uses a low-cost iron oxide catalyst that can be disposed of after one pass, thereby avoiding the problem of catalyst poisoning by metals that occur in heavy oil. A contract for detailed engineering, procurement support and construction management services for the project has been awarded to Chiyoda Corp. (www.chiyoda-corp.com), together with JGC Corp. (both Yokohama, Japan; www.jgc.co.jp) and Inelectra SACA, a Venezuelan…
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