TCE Editor, Adam Duckett

MERIDIAN Energy Group, Inc. has announced plans to build what it claims will be the world’s cleanest refinery in Texas, US. The company has secured land atop the oil-rich Permian Basin, and is now seeking permission from authorities for a 60,000 bbl/d refinery to produce a full slate of refined products including gasoline and ultra-low sulfur diesel. The US$1bn refinery will take advantage of the rapid growth of oil production in the region.

The new refinery will borrow the design of a refinery Meridian is building in the shale-rich Bakken region in North Dakota. They will use a high level of process and emissions control technology that means the emissions rates are so low that, for the first time in history, the Bakken refinery has been permitted as a minor rather than major source under air quality rules.

The technologies being used include the latest generation of ultra-low NOx burners in utility boilers and heater furnaces and selective catalytic reduction for post-flue gas treatment to further reduce NOx emissions. In an emailed statement to The Chemical Engineer, the company said it has designed major aspects of the refinery systems to use vapour recovery to “essentially eliminate major fugitive emissions from the plant.”

It is also going beyond regulatory requirements by using optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras using infrared filters to continuously scan the plant for fugitive gas leaks. The company said its plants “will be the cleanest refineries on the planet when they are operational.”

Oil production from the Permian is set to climb dramatically in the coming years on the back of the fracking boom. Analytics firm IHS Markit projected last year that output from the basin will more than double by 2023, rising by 3m bbl/d to 5.4m bbl/d. It expects this will contribute 60% of total growth in global production, driven by nearly 41,000 new wells and US$308bn in upstream spending between 2018–2023.


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