Interview with Dr. Marcio Wagner da Silva, Process Engineer & Project Manager, Petrobras

Oil and gas refinery image

Dr. Marcio Wagner da Silva, Process Engineer & Project Manager from Petrobras shares his views on biggest challenge faced by the refining and petrochemical industry.

Please introduce your role at PETROBRAS.

I’m Process Engineer and Project Manager at PETROBRAS. My role is carrying out studies and implementation of operational projects dedicated to ensure maximum safety and profitability.

What is the biggest challenge faced by the refining and petrochemical industry today?

In my point of view, the biggest challenge to the players in the downstream sector is to keep competitive in the changing industry, especially due to reduction in transportation fuels demand, followed by the growth of the petrochemicals market. Another great change is the trend of decarbonisation, leading to the growth of biofuels participation in the refineries.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Asia’s refining and petrochemical market in the next 12 months?

The Asian market represents a great business opportunity to refiners capable of producing high amounts of low sulphur marine fuel oil in compliance with the IMO 2020. Refiners with easy access to crude oil reserves with low sulphur content like Brazil find the Asian market attractive because of this. Another great opportunity in the Asian Market is the growing demand for petrochemicals that could represent a great opportunity to more integrated refiners, especially those with access to lighter crudes.

Please share your safety tip for 2020 – how can operators achieve higher safety and efficiency?

Continuous developments in technologies, including process simulators, can help operators to achieve an adequate balance between agility and safety. Operational discipline is a key factor in the refining industry aiming to avoid process accidents and prevent production losses. Digital tools can contribute to building a safer and more efficient downstream industry.

Please share your views on IMO 2020 and impact on refining

IMO 2020 represents a great technological challenge to some refiners, especially those processing heavier crude slates with poor bottom barrel conversion capacity. These refiners tend to lose competitiveness in the short term. We are seeing a big price gap between high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) and the low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) and refiners with adequate refining hardware can benefit from this while the refiners with less complexity are adding high added value streams like diesel to produce the LSFO or the specified bunker again.

What are the main areas of technological investments in oil and gas?

The investments in digital technologies that aim to build an agile management system are a priority to refiners as well as cybersecurity technologies. The investments in technologies capable of improving the participation of renewables processing in the refining hardware tend to rise in the short term due to the requirements of decarbonisation of the energy matrix.

Please elaborate your thoughts on EVs and impact on refining – is it the end of oil?

I don’t believe that is the end of oil, but the presence of EVs is a reality and environmental concerns tend to reduce the participation of fossil fuels in the energy matrix. This is a great challenge to the refining industry. The industry needs to expand its business platform and deep integration with the petrochemical industry is an attractive strategy. It’s possible to optimise refining hardware to improve the production of petrochemical intermediates against intermediate streams to produce transportation fuels. This can help the refiners face the reduction of transportation fuel consumption and keep the competitiveness of both industries.

What do you think is the biggest impact that technology will have on the industry in the next five years?

In the operational point of view, I believe that technology will allow more agile and efficient management systems making more integrated production plans in the downstream sector possible. The increasing digitalisation of refining hardware tends to improve online monitoring characteristics, for example reducing energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases.

What will be the highlight of your presentation at the Asian Downstream Summit and co-located ARTC?

My intention is to do a brief overview of the cyber threat in the downstream industry and available technologies capable to minimise this risk to refiners.

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