Cutting-edge Production Technology
Leading the way in highly efficient refining technology
The Sodegaura Refinery, which handles our core business, began operations in 1968. The plant currently boasts a refining capacity of 143,000 barrels per day.
Although this amounts to only around 4% of Japan’s total refining capacity, the refinery’s efficiency far exceeds levels at competitors due to facilities and specialists capable of making every type of petroleum product.
One example is the refinery’s vacuum residue thermal cracking unit (Eureka Thermal Cracking Unit), which is the only one of its kind in the world. As crude oil used in refining processes becomes increasingly heavy, the technology offered by this efficient device is an important competitive advantage for Fuji Oil. The refinery is also skilled in the production of basic petrochemical feedstock and aims to add value to all of its products
Highly efficient crude oil cracking is becoming more important
Most people know that petroleum products such as the gasoline and kerosene we use every day are produced from crude oil extracted from oil fields. However, the production processes that make this possible are less understood. First, crude oil is refined in a crude distillation unit (CDU), which separates the oil into LPG, naphtha, kerosene, diesel fuel and other petroleum fractions based on different boiling points. The remaining bottom residue becomes heavy fuel products or asphalt. This residue can be upgraded into high value-added lighter distillates using secondary facilities.
The capacity of these facilities is critical to the competitiveness of refineries today. Demand for lighter distillates such as gasoline, jet fuel and kerosene is currently expanding at a faster pace than demand for fuel oil and asphalt, especially in Asia. Refining companies therefore target higher yields of lighter distillates from the same input of crude oil by reducing the proportion of residue such as fuel oil and asphalt in the final product A larger proportion of lighter distillates results in a so-called higher cracking capacity.
High ratio of heavy fraction cracking equipment
Heavy oil processing capacity is another key factor in oil refinery competitiveness. The characteristics of crude oil differ depending on the region where it was extracted. Crude oil is mainly classified as heavy oil or light oil according to its chemical composition and properties. The proportions of each type of petroleum products distilled from crude oil depend on the type of crude oil used in the refining process.
For example, heavy crude oil contains a high proportion of residue with high boiling points, such as asphalt. This means the volume of distillates such as gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel that can be extracted from heavy crude oil is lower than for light crude oil. Heavy crude oil also tends to contain more impurities, leading to a significant environmental impact during the refining process. The ability to reduce the proportion of residue and minimize environmental impact in the heavy crude oil refining process provides a good yardstick for a refinery’s processing and technological capabilities.
The ability to efficiently refine heavy crude oil also allows refineries to respond to the growing trend in the oil industry towards frontier oil fields (areas where extraction is more challenging), because these remote, localized or deep sea fields tend to have a higher proportion of heavy crude oil reserves.
- Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit
- Vacuum residue thermal cracking unit
(Eureka Thermal Cracking Unit)
In order to create light petroleum products by cracking and refining heavy crude oil, Fuji Oil operates a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, the standard equipment for heavy fraction cracking in the industry, as well as a vacuum residue thermal cracking unit (Eureka Thermal Cracking Unit). Dividing the total processing capacity of these units by actual crude oil processing output gives a high ratio of approximately 50%, illustrating the Sodegaura Refinery’s significant heavy crude oil refining capacity.
In particular the vacuum residue thermal cracking unit can take asphalt, one type of residue from the crude oil refining process, and further crack and refine it to create distillates such as gasoline and diesel fuel substrates. This has allowed us to reduce the ratio of residue after the distillation process from 21.5% to just 6%. Our industry-leading capacity in heavy fraction cracking equipment is one of Fuji Oil’s greatest advantages.