Petrobras announces that its refining park in Brazil processed an average of 2,034,000 barrels of oil per day between January and November 2013, up 8% from the 1,897,000 barrels per day registered in the same period of 2012, adhering to the most rigorous principles of safety.
This new operational parameter stems from improved performance obtained with the start-up of new quality and conversion units since 2012, in addition to the optimization of refining processes and removal of some bottlenecks in the oil and oil products flow infrastructure.
In order to evaluate the performance of its units, Petrobras uses the refining park Utilization Factor (FUT), as one of the indicators that measures operational performance. The FUT is calculated as follows:
FUT (%)= Processed Feedstock
Processed Feedstock: Volume of oil processed in a given period.
Reference Feedstock or Installed Capacity of Primary Processing (the term used in the Financial Report of the quarterly results): Maximum volume to be processed at distillation units while assuring sustainability of the operation of the entire refinery.
The establishment of the Reference Feedstock at a refining facility is the result of a series of studies such as those related to process engineering, atmospheric emissions and hydric effluents, as well as the economics of the refinery. Reference Feedstock of all refineries are approved and authorized by state environmental agencies and by the ANP (Brazil’s National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency), which check and confirm compliance with equipment design limits and safety, environmental and product quality requirements.
It is worth noting that, under certain circumstances, authorization is obtained from the ANP and the same environmental agencies to conduct operational tests for a pre-established period (45 days to 8 months), with the aim of evaluating the feasibility of increasing the Reference Feedstock. This volume authorized provisionally for tests period, added to the Reference Feedstock, is referred to as the Authorized Feedstock, and is the maximum limit of operation for each refining unit in this period.
Both the Reference and Authorized Feedstock are approved by the ANP and by the state environmental agencies.
Given that the processed feedstock was 2,034,000 barrels per day from January to November 2013, and the Reference Feedstock is 2,102,000 barrels per day, the Refining Park FUT was 97.4% in this period. If the Authorized Feedstock is considered, the utilization level was 91.9%, given that the Authorized Feedstock is 2,228,000 barrels per day.
The utilization level of the refineries (91.9%) is comparable to that achieved by the best-performing US refineries (1st quartile), which was 92.2% between 2011 and 2012, according to data of a study released in January 2013 and performed by Solomon Associates, an international consultancy specialized in the refining sector.
Petrobras strictly complies with the schedule and all the maintenance standards and procedures of the refinery facilities, according to the provisions that regulate such procedures and schedule - Regulatory Standards (NR) NR-13 and NR-10, ABNT 15.417, N-2.555, API-510 and API-570, and units are required to maintain their SPIE (In-House Equipment Inspection Service) certificates updated. SPIE certificates are issued by the IBP (Brazilian Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels Institute), which, ultimately, attests to and formalizes the competence of refining facilities’ teams to maintain the physical integrity of their facilities.
Petrobras has a permanent practice to analyse the occurrences in order to improve its operating procedures. Accordingly, on last December 15, a Work Group was set up to use, as its main input, the conclusions of the specific investigative commissions formed for each occurrence, with the objective of analyzing them in a systemic manner and proposing measures that further improve existing procedures and practices and the execution of operational and maintenance activities of Petrobras’ refining units.