Profit maximization has always been the primary concern of downstream oil companies. Integrating refinery and petrochemical plants offers immense number of opportunities for profit improvement through shared utilities and exchange of valuable streams. Petrochemical integration with refineries enables the capability to promptly respond to the changes in product slate owing to the growing product quality stringency and market dynamics. Petrochemical complexes are often seen to shield refining profits as in the year 1995-96 wherein the low refinery margins were offset by the stronger aromatic returns due to high para-xylene prices.
Sparing the last two years wherein the unanticipated fall in crude oil price has been by-and-large governed by geo-political reasons, the price of conventional and light crude oils has always been steadily increasing owing to the fast depleting oil reserves coupled with steeply escalating demand.This has caused the refiners to constantly look out for ways and means to include and maximize low cost heavy and extra-heavy opportunity crudes in their acceptable crude basket in an attempt to reduce the dependency on conventional lighter crudes, increase profitability and as well secure their crude diet. This is clearly evident from the fact that refining giants such as Reliance (Jamnagar-India), Motive (Port Arthur) and Marathon Garyville (USA) have already augmented their heavy oil processing capacity in the recent past.