TonenGeneral commissions unit at Chiba refinery

TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK has implemented technology from GTC Technology US LLC, Houston, for a recently commissioned grassroots mixed xylene recovery unit at its 152,000-b/d Chiba refinery in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

GTC Technology has supplied its proprietary Dividing Wall Column (GT-DWC) technology for the 230,000-tonne/year unit, which TonenGeneral entered into commercial operation in April, the service provider said.

Equipped to produce xylenes, high-purity toluene, and high-purity C9 aromatics out of the same column, the unit also features a first-of-its-kind design for DWCs that enables overhead vapors to provide heating duty to two upstream units, GTC said.

In addition to process licensing, GTC’s scope of work on the project included basic engineering design, equipment supply, and process guarantees for the unit.

The new mixed xylene recovery unit comes as part of TonenGeneral’s shift from fuels to petrochemicals, one of the core business strategies outlined in its medium-term management plan announced in February 2013, TonenGeneral said in an Apr. 27 news release.

Alongside maximizing the value of crude processed at the refinery, the unit also will enable the company to respond flexibly to the drop in US demand for petroleum products and anticipated increase in demand for petrochemical products in China and elsewhere, the company said.

TonenGeneral cut crude oil processing capacity at the Chiba refinery to 152,000 b/d from its previous capacity of 175,000 b/d at the end of March 2014 to comply with a 2010 ordinance enacted by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI) requiring Japanese refiners to raise their mandatory cracking-to-crude distillation capacity ratio to 13% or higher from 10% by March 2014 (OGJ Online, Mar. 26, 2014; Dec. 3, 2012).

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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