Overview of the Petrochemical and Refining Business

This program provides a comprehensive overview of todays international refining, gas processing, and petrochemicals business and how they can be effectively integrated to maximize overall performance. The program consists of a careful balance of lectures by a recognized industry specialist and team participation in a challenging business simulation game mentored by a workshop facilitator. This unique blended learning format has proven to be the best way for participants to internalize the lecture content in a challenging and enjoyable team-based environment. In the process, attendees learn the complexities and business challenges of the emerging petrochemical industry and the opportunities that exist to integrate these three petroleum sectors, i.e., petrochemicals, gas processing, and refining, to maximize competitiveness. Secondary benefits include extensive participant networking, team leadership development, decision-making skills, and making formal presentations.

Additional information

Program Type

Key Benefits

Upon completing this program, you will understand:

  • The evolution of refining, gas processing, and petrochemical industries.
  • Petrochemical industry structure, key players, competitiveness factors. The nature of petrochemical markets, market cycles, supply and demand perspectives. Key challenges and success factors in the petrochemical business.
  • The seven basic building blocks of petrochemicals. The benefits of integrating refining, gas processing, and petrochemical complexes, and advantaged feedstocks.
  • Petrochemical process configuration, selection, and optimization. Steam cracking, olefins, olefin derivatives, aromatics. Technology selection processes, R&D, and relevant innovation.
  • The emerging shale revolution in the U.S. and its implications on global petrochemical business.
  • Petrochemical trading, marketing, supply chain aspects, and customer interfaces.
  • Identification of investment opportunities, methodologies in selecting robust investments.

Program Location and Schedule

Daily sessions will start at 8:00 AM and run until 5:00 PM. Participants will receive further information on location and schedule upon registration.

Who Should Attend

This program is ideal for individuals who seek an integrated understanding of the international refining and petrochemicals business, as it provides an excellent foundation to achieve a companys strategic objectives and action plans in petrochemicals. This may include managers, planners, operations personnel, technologists, support staff, and other specialists who wish to learn about this important segment of the value chain. As an introductory course, it is beneficial to individuals from the upstream, downstream, and support functions.

Instructional Format

The instructional format consists of a careful balance of lectures by seasoned experts and a practical business simulation game. The lectures will address the complexities and challenges of the petrochemical, gas, and refining business and all of the key considerations in developing a sound investment and operating plan that maintains longterm competitiveness. During the workshop sessions teams of participants manage the development and operation of an integrated refining and petrochemical complex, within the fictitious Republic of Bilitan, located within the rapidly growing markets of Southeast Asia. In the process, teams will plan and evaluate various options to design and optimize the facilities and manage their performance over 20 years of realistic decisions. Real-life external events will be simulated to provide attendees a deeper understanding of the nature of these businesses and ways to adapt to uncertainties.

Program Content

Overview of the Energy Industry

Oil and gas measurements and units, value chain, market structures, oil and gas resources and production, unconventional resources, major players, energy outlook, sector analysis, long-term geographical areas of emphasis.

Petrochemical Industry Overview

End uses of petrochemical products, seven basic chemicals, characteristics of the industry, major players, competitiveness, global supply and demand balances, feedstock needs, netback pricing concepts.

Industry Perspectives and Challenges

Global supply and demand balances and fundamental drivers, global capacity additions, major players in petrochemicals, business cyclicality perspectives.

Strategic Initiatives of the Business Enterprise

Strategic intent of the company, current market position, desired growth, areas of focus, attributes of top companies, desired product portfolio, emerging business model of top competitors, key steps to achieve leadership position.

Fundamentals of the Refining Industry: Foundation for Petrochemicals

Evolution of the industry, fuels products supply and demand balances, crude oil characteristics, worldwide crude avails, process configuration options, product yields, refining investments and economics, long-term trends, synergy with petrochemicals.

Manufacture of Petrochemicals from Gas Processing and Refinery Feedstocks

Petrochemical manufacturing process, steam crackers, ethylene, polyethylene, ethylene glycols, polypropylene, aromatics, paraxylene and other derivatives, refinery interfaces.

Steam Cracking Fundamentals

Steam cracking technology, ethylene and propylene production, olefin derivative plants, co-product disposition and valuation, refinery interfaces, interactions with aromatics plants.

Energy Project Economics

Financial models, project cash flow analysis, discounted cash flow and internal rate of returns, sensitivities to changes in key variables. Application of netback pricing concepts. Price forecasting concepts.

Advantaged Feedstock and Transfer Pricing Concepts

Advantaged feedstock definition, factors impacting advantaged feedstock selection, transfer pricing basics, market place driven commercial basis for transfer price evaluation.

Petrochemicals from Gas Processing and Methanol to Olefins

Gas processing, natural gas liquids, potential feedstock for steam cracking, interfaces with refining and petrochemicals, methane conversion to methanol, ammonia, urea and fertilizer production, methanol to olefin technologies.

Technology Development and Applications

Importance of R&D, technology development and innovation for long-term competitiveness, importance of understanding evolving customer needs and adapting to changes.

Integration of Gas Processing, Refining, and Petrochemical Plants to Maximize Financial Results

Capital and operating costs synergies with integration, feedstock and co-product optimization, enhanced value creation and flexibility in designing and operating a complex.

Petrochemicals Marketing and Trading

Key elements of the supply chain, sales, customer, service and support, relationship building, logistics and transportation, product marketing.

Emerging Trends and Disruptive Technologies

External factors that could impact long-term performance, examples of disruptive technologies, impact on design and operations, need for investment robustness.

U.S. Shale Gas Development and Implications

Emerging shale gas and shale oil plays in the U.S., impact on NGL feedstock availability for crackers and competitiveness, ethylene projects in the U.S. and potential implications on global trade flows, impact on propylene manufacturing, interplay with aromatics.


International Petrochemicals Business Game: Bilitan

The workshop setting is the Republic of Bilitan, a republic in the Asia Pacific region located off the coast of Indonesia. As a result of a major oil field discovery, your company, in a joint venture with the Bilitan National Oil Company (BNOC), is designing a new 400,000 bbl/day refinery to process the crude into finished products. Given the relatively low domestic demand for fuels products, it is anticipated that substantial naphtha will be available from the refining complex for potential sales. Your parent company wants your team to evaluate the possibility of adding a petrochemicals complex using naphtha and associated gas as a feed to take advantage of the rapid growth in petrochemicals markets in the Asia Pacific region and to provide employment opportunities for local nationals. Your parent company anticipates that the highest value for the crude and associated gas
will be achieved with an integrated refining / petrochemical complex.

Participants, divided into teams, compete to win the team prize as they build a petrochemical complex that optimizes the product slate and feedstock selection from the refinery and gas processing plant. In order to provide rapid feedback on each teams ongoing performance, IHRDC has developed the International Petrochemical Business Simulator, which allows teams to make ongoing decisions and simulate many years of performance in a short time. This classic IHRDC business game and workshop consistently earns very high praise from participants for its realism, stimulation of learning process, incorporation of real world situations and the benefits of working in teams with delegates from many countries.

The sessions include:

  • Introduction to activities and goals
  • Material balances across the refining and petrochemical complexes
  • Evaluation of a naphtha and reforming based aromatics plant for production of paraxylene
  • Evaluation of a naphtha cracker for the manufacture of polyethylene, ethylene glycol, and polypropylene
  • Evaluation of associated gas as a feedstock to the cracker
  • Integrated petrochemical business decision involving aromatics plant and ethylene cracker: Feedstock, configuration, investments, economics, sensitivities
  • Year 5 industry outlook: New challenges for evaluation
  • Review of results and preparation of team presentations
  • Presentations of team decisions and performance results