Chevron to build VRSH plant

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Chevron Corporation has announced plans to build a pre-commercial plant at its refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to test the technical and economic viability of a heavy-oil upgrading technology.

Chevron claims this proprietary technology, Vacuum Resid Slurry Hydrocracking (VRSH), has the potential to significantly increase yields of petrol, diesel and jet fuel from heavy and ultra-heavy crude oils and could be used to increase and upgrade production of heavy oil resources.

‘This project will advance Chevron's heavy-oil upgrading capability and is an important research and development initiative for the company,’ said Mike Wirth, executive vice president of Global Downstream for Chevron. ‘Given the increasing role of heavy oil in meeting the world's growing energy demand and our significant heavy oil resources, this technology could provide a unique pathway to increase supplies of clean-burning fuels for the marketplace.’

Construction of the plant is expected to begin later this year. Once complete, it will have a capacity of 3,500 barrels per day.

Chevron says it has been developing VRSH technology since 2003. The patented process is said to have undergone successful preliminary testing on a range of feedstocks in multiple pilot plants at Chevron's research centre in Richmond, California. Chevron's research shows the technology can achieve up to 100 per cent conversion of the heaviest feedstock, while the best current commercial refining technology achieves less than 80 per cent conversion.