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Blog Series: Best Practices for Your Petroleum Supply Chain

Check out our blog series, "Best Practices for Your Petroleum Supply Chain" and learn from industry experts how to incorporate best practices to improve your planning and scheduling processes.

October 14, 2016 by Patrick Garrett / 0 Comment
Patrick Garrett

Weather the Storm With These Refinery and Olefins Planning Best Practices

Weather the Storm

Weather is a lot like the energy industry—globally interconnected, hard to predict, ever-changing and cyclic. In different places around the world, weather varies but there are many similarities, just like the energy industry. In summer, Europe is warm and relaxing, but in India, it is roasting hot and dry with everyone eagerly awaiting the first monsoon. In the U.S. Gulf Coast and Caribbean, hurricanes charge across the Atlantic, and expert meteorologists use powerful models to predict the storm’s path, then advise residents to minimize damage... this summer hurricane Matthew demonstrated that. The energy business is no different—although it is often hard to predict, it is necessary to try. With the right tools, your team can be the expert, trusted advisers who ensure your plant achieves its business goals.


Most refiners will see this market volatility as a challenge. For example, the crude ranking and product slate decided three months ago they could no longer be profitable at the new price points. This challenge can become an opportunity if you understand how to plan for this volatility and guarantee that your crude ranking is robust enough to withstand price fluctuations. Like the hurricane example above, if you take into account those market changes during the planning cycle you can be prepared with a more powerful plan for any outcome. While competitors are making last minute changes, and selling distressed cargoes because they are no longer profitable to process, your organization can confidently seize the day and execute the robust plan you developed. But how do you do this? If it were easy, wouldn’t every company do it? Just like the meteorologist has a complex model to predict where a hurricane will make landfall, the refinery or olefins planner needs a technological solution that can reliably and accurately predict the profitability of the plant, which is often called a planning model.


The planning model is a powerful tool that enables the refinery and olefins planning team to make the right business decisions and manage business risk. But how do you know the model is trustworthy and capable of modeling your processes? Just like you need to know the hurricane’s path to keep your family safe, you need the planning model to be accurate, reliable and swift to facilitate business decision-making. You need to prepare to protect your family and home from severe weather—stockpiling supplies, covering windows and even evacuating the area. You can make these same preparations in refinery planning.


The Aspen PIMS™ family has been trusted in the energy industry for over 30 years, and Aspen PIMS-AO™ (Advanced Optimization) helps refinery and olefins planners and managers all around the world achieve their business goals. Aspen PIMS-AO is the leading technology in reliability, speed and model robustness, enabling increased asset optimization and reduced operating costs at more than 125 refinery and olefins sites worldwide. Many industry-leading refiners have reduced crude costs by 1 to 2% and increased margins by 10-20 cents per barrel using the superior optimization engine of Aspen PIMS-AO. Olefins producers have leveraged Aspen PIMS-AO to improve feedstock selection and run the plant closer to constraints. These results are like a bountiful rainfall, helping refiners and olefins producers in times of trouble. 


How has optimization been helpful in your role? Let us know!


  • Patrick Garrett
    December 20, 2016 by Patrick Garrett / 0 Comment

    Achieving Work/Life Balance: How the Right Tools Can Help

    Work/life balance may be the most important factor in achieving and maintaining happiness and success as an employee. I know that this concept is true for myself, most of my friends, and my colleagues. It is vital to enjoy your personal time, whether you’re leaving work to play some basketball with your buddies or heading home to play with your newborn son. In my case, it used to be the former, but now it’s the latter…

  • Allison McNulty
    September 21, 2016 by Allison McNulty / 0 Comment

    Goldilocks and Refinery Planning and Scheduling

    Okay, I confess – in addition to the various news sources I peruse daily, I also learn from “Captivate.” You know, the ingenious screens at the top of the elevator that flash snippets of news to stare at so you can avoid eye contact instead of (gasp!) actually talking to your fellow passengers …

  • Ruben Ramirez
    November 30, 2016 by Ruben Ramirez / 0 Comment

    It’s Time to Stop Herding Cats – and Spreadsheets

    One of the phrases we sometimes use in our office when assembling global, multi-discipline teams for a project is that it’s just like herding cats. We are in Houston, Texas, so the images of a cowboy, cattle and corral are easy to imagine. The skill demonstrated when herding cattle is impressive, but cats being, well cats, they could make any cowhand hang up his lasso …