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Challenges and technological opportunities for the oil refining industry: A Brazilian refinery case


  • Castelo Branco, David A.
  • Gomes, Gabriel L.
  • Szklo, Alexandre S.


The worldwide oil refining industry currently faces strong challenges related to uncertainties about future feedstock and characteristics of oil products. These challenges favor two main strategies for the sector: the first strategy is increasing refinery complexity and versatility; the second is integrating the refining and petrochemical industries, adding value to the crude oil while guaranteeing market share to premium oil products. Both strategies aim at increasing production of highly specified oil products, simultaneously reducing the environmental impacts of the refining industry. This paper analyses the case of a Brazilian refinery, Gabriel Passos Refinery (REGAP), by proposing additional investments to alter and/or expand its current production scheme. All the proposed options present relatively low investment rates of return. However, investments in a hydrocracking based configuration with a gasification unit providing hydrogen and power can further improve the operational profitability, due to reduced natural gas consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Castelo Branco, David A. & Gomes, Gabriel L. & Szklo, Alexandre S., 2010. "Challenges and technological opportunities for the oil refining industry: A Brazilian refinery case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 3098-3105, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:6:p:3098-3105

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yamashita, Kei & Barreto, Leonardo, 2005. "Energyplexes for the 21st century: Coal gasification for co-producing hydrogen, electricity and liquid fuels," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(13), pages 2453-2473.
    2. Gomes, Gabriel Lourenço & Szklo, Alexandre & Schaeffer, Roberto, 2009. "The impact of CO2 taxation on the configuration of new refineries: An application to Brazil," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5519-5529, December.
    3. Szklo, Alexandre & Schaeffer, Roberto, 2006. "Alternative energy sources or integrated alternative energy systems? Oil as a modern lance of Peleus for the energy transition," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 31(14), pages 2513-2522.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johansson, Daniella & Rootzén, Johan & Berntsson, Thore & Johnsson, Filip, 2012. "Assessment of strategies for CO2 abatement in the European petroleum refining industry," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 375-386.
    2. Olateju, Babatunde & Monds, Joshua & Kumar, Amit, 2014. "Large scale hydrogen production from wind energy for the upgrading of bitumen from oil sands," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 48-56.
    3. Olateju, Babatunde & Kumar, Amit, 2016. "A techno-economic assessment of hydrogen production from hydropower in Western Canada for the upgrading of bitumen from oil sands," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(P1), pages 604-614.
    4. Hoffmann, Bettina Susanne & Szklo, Alexandre, 2011. "Integrated gasification combined cycle and carbon capture: A risky option to mitigate CO2 emissions of coal-fired power plants," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(11), pages 3917-3929.


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