Petrochemicals Industry vs. Oil and Gas

The oil and gas industry feeds petrochemicals with sought-after products to produce olefins, aromatics, glycols, & polymers. - Petrochemicals Industry

The petrochemicals industry vs. oil and gas became an inquiry frequently asked by the masses. Despite being closely related, the oil and gas industry represents the upstream phase with its exploration, drilling, extraction, and early production stages. On the other hand, the petrochemicals industry represents the downstream phase, where petroleum products are manufactured in oil refineries or natural gas processing units to yield myriad hydrocarbon products and derivatives.

What is the importance of crude oil and petrochemicals Industry?

Crude oil feeds the petrochemicals industry to generate olefins, aromatics, glycols, and polymers. Industry leaders worldwide believe that the future of oil is in petrochemicals, not in fuel, highlighting the growing demand for electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.

In this regard, Bryan Glover – General Manager of Honeywell UOP’s Process Technology and Equipment Business – stated: “The trend is so strong, that internally, UOP uses the term “Refinery of the Future” to refer to flexible technologies that enable refining complexes to make a wide variety chemicals. The best outcomes result when you can match the molecules to the best market opportunities.”

Anchor Benitoite's Petrochemical Products Capitalize on Novolen-Lummus and C3 Oleflex World-class Technologies. - Petrochemicals Industry
Anchor Benitoite’s Petrochemical Products Capitalize on Novolen-Lummus and C3 Oleflex World-class Technologies.

Pledging a fruitful future for Egypt, Anchorage Investments is developing a state-of-the-art petrochemical affiliate – Anchor Benitoite. The project shall produce 1.75 million T/Annum petrochemical products and intermediates, including Propylene, Polypropylene, Crude Acrylic Acid, N-Butanol, and Butyl Acrylate. Ideally located at the heart of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE), privileged with its prominent geographical location, adjacent port connectivity, and effective operating costs, Anchor Benitoite is envisaged to be a gateway to the petrochemicals industry on regional and global scales. With total investments close to USD 2 billion, Anchorage Investments’ affiliate shall increase Egypt’s competitiveness as a regional petrochemical hub while opening new channels of lucrative investments to back up the national economy.

Between refineries and petrochemicals, which is better?

Petrochemicals are way better than traditional refineries. The world-renowned British Petroleum (BP) envisioned the petrochemicals industry to thrive by 16-20% within the upcoming 2 decades. Such a wealthy industry caters to an array of products, ranging from carpeting, detergents, plastics, and solvents, to fertilizer, cosmetics, lubricants, and pharmaceuticals.

And now, let’s dig deeper into the technical terms that are commonly used in the petrochemical industry:

  • Distillation: Separating heavy fuels from lighter ones.
  • Cracking: Breaking heavy oil into lighter usable fluids.
  • Reforming: Increasing the amount of gasoline produced by rearranging naphtha molecules.
  • Blending: Mixing refinery products to obtain final petroleum fuels.
  • Treating: Purifying sulfur from gasoline to better preserve the environment.

Removed sulfur shall be further used in fertilizers and pharmaceutical production.

Is petrochemical similar to oil and gas? 

The petrochemicals industry symbolize the future of the oil and gas industry, where the optimum utilization of non-renewables, like; crude oil and natural gas, are idyllically achieved. Rather than limiting their use to fueling, heating, and lighting, petrochemicals can best utilize non-renewable energy sources and agricultural residues to cement numerous end-user commodities.

Why did petrochemicals become widely used in products?

Offering a broad spectrum of intermediates, petrochemicals industry can generously feed endless final products that we indispensably use daily, like Plastics – PVC Pipes – Chemicals – Packaging – Paints and Coatings – Adhesives – Textiles – Pharmaceuticals – Automotive Spare Parts – Apparatus – Cosmetics – Electronics – Fertilizers – Pesticides – Rubber – Synthetic fibers – Insulation and building materials – Lubricants – Gasoline – Diesel – Asphalt – Molding and Solvents – Solvents – Tires.

What are the uses of crude oil and petrochemicals?

Over the past millennium, coal, oils, and petroleum products were merely used to heat and light buildings, produce electricity, run factories, and fuel vehicles. Since the 1940s, such products have witnessed a paradigm shift that can never be overlooked. In oil refineries, crude oil has been best utilized to produce naphtha, gasoline, kerosene, light, and heavy oils. Entering the cracking phase in naphtha crackers, ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, and xylene are further manufactured to be used as feedstock for several final products.

What petrochemicals can be produced from natural gas?

Just like crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) can immensely feed the petrochemical industry. Through natural gas fractioning, extracted ethane, propane, and butane endure a cracking process. In an Ethane cracker, intermediate materials, like ethylene, propylene, and butylene, are produced – in addition to further olefins – as raw materials for key industries.

To conclude, the production process is the key to solving the petrochemicals industry vs. oil and gas riddle. The petrochemicals world, namely downstream, holds a brighter future for the non-renewable energy sources way better than what the upstream phase may promise.