OVERVIEW AND CHALLENGES
The fuel sector is currently marked by:
- profound changes and fundamental societal trends, such as:
- commitments made by signatory countries to the Paris agreement concerning the reduction of GGEs,
- the overall drive to improve air quality,
- the emergence of soft transport modes,
- the quest to find substitutes for fuels and chemical intermediates of fossil origin, etc.,
- a change in the quality of the oil offer with the emergence of unconventional oils,
- considerable uncertainties concerning the trajectories followed by markets in the major regions of the world to adapt to these changes (demand, public policies, resources, etc.).
The evolution in oil product requirements (fuels, bitumen, etc.) over the long term is impacted by:
- growing global needs in terms of individual mobility in emerging zones and road and maritime freight transport,
- the structural evolution of this demand: electrification of the vehicle fleet, public policies influencing recourse to low-carbon fuels and specific mobility modes, etc.
In this context, root and branch changes are required in the refining industry: it has to adapt refining facilities to propose clean products, address mobility needs and contribute to the energy transition, in an economic and sustainable manner.
The challenges to be overcome are numerous:
- the reinforcement of legislative constraints with respect to oil products,
- the historic divergence in oil product evolution dynamics:
- a decline in the global demand for gasoline fuel ,
- resistance to the growth in middle distillates (reflecting the alignment of freight and air transport with global demand),
- significant regionalization of these changes,
- the structural evolution of needs for heavy oil products, marked by:
- a fall in demand for heavy fuels,
- and an increase in the demand for marine fuels linked to the growth in freight transport combined with the tightening up of SOx emission specifications limiting the sulfur content of marine fuels to 0.5% by 2020,
- the increase in the incorporation of renewable energies in the transport sector and growing recourse to alternative fuels produced from non-fossil resources, as well as natural gas.
In order to address these challenges in an uncertain context, the refining industry is seeking to optimize its investments; it will also have to speed up the transformation of its industrial facilities, using tools and software solutions stemming from the digital revolution.
Increasingly strict standards to tackle air pollution: the sulfur content of gasoline and diesels limited to10 ppm, already implemented in Europe since 2009, will be extended to China, India and the USA from 2020.
In mature zones, the improvement in the efficiency of IC engines and the roll-out of alternative solutions (biofuels, electrification, etc.) will lead to a very marked fall in fuel requirements: it is estimated that the demand for gasoline fuel will fall by 34% during the period from 2016 to 2040.
Developing innovative, eco-efficient production processes for clean, sustainable fuels meeting stricter standards and state incentives in terms of the incorporation of biofuel.