Naphtha & Gasoil

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Petroleum Liquid Feedstocks - Naphtha and Gas Oil - Diesel 

There are two primary uses for naphtha and gas oil—as the primary component in the production of fuels (gasoline) and as a feedstock for the steam cracking of olefins and aromatic petrochemical products. 

Naphtha and gas oil refinery outputs depend on the composition of feed crude petroleum utilized and in turn the crude oil regional source. As an example, crude oil extracted from Middle Eastern fields will have different properties from that extracted in Alaska. Crude oils with an API gravity of 30° or more produce larger amounts of products such as naphtha, kerosene and light gas oils than those with an API gravity of less than 30°. In addition, naphthenic crude oils tend to produce relatively greater quantities of naphtha than the paraffinic crudes of the same specific gravity, which produce higher relative amounts of gas oils.

Given that naphtha and gas oil volumes depend on these factors, yields differ as the source of petroleum changes.
Major applications for naphtha include use as a chemical feedstock for steam cracking to produce petrochemicals (ethylene, propylene and pyrolysis gasoline) and as a fuel input to catalytic reforming for gasoline blending stock and BTX (benzene, toluene and xylenes) extraction. Gas oil is used as a chemical feedstock for steam cracking, although generally less preferred than naphtha and natural gas liquids (NGLs, including liquefied petroleum gases).

Naphtha consumption is of varied disposition in the various regional and country gasoline markets. In the United States and Western Europe, gasoline is the dominant end use for naphtha. In fact, gasoline is the primary reason petroleum is processed in the United States. It also determines the use of other refinery fractions. As an example, much of the straight-run gas oil fraction produced in US refineries is upgraded into lighter components for fuel use in downstream refinery processes, such as catalytic cracking. In Western Europe and Japan, gasoline accounts for a smaller portion of the crude petroleum processed, as their refineries have historically emphasized the middle distillates—diesel and heating oils. Compared with the United States, diesel enjoys a much higher prominence in the Japanese and Western European fuel pools. In the rest of Asia and in the Middle East, where there is less demand for gasoline, paraffinic naphtha enjoys high cracker feedstock use for olefin production. However, as gasoline demand increases globally, demand for the octane from aromatic naphtha in the gasoline pool will increase.

Gas oil is utilized primarily in the fuel markets. In the United States, gas oil is most often consumed in refining processes to produce gasoline blending components. In Western Europe and Asia, only a (relatively) small amount of gas oil is upgraded. Moreover, increased production of gasoline from Fischer-Tropsch-based gas-to-liquids projects could over time replace some gas oil fuel demand in Western Europe and Japan.

Going forward, demand growth will be higher in Asia and the Middle East, as a result of new ethylene capacity. During 2012–2017, demand for naphtha and gas oil for petrochemical use is projected to increase at more than 3% per year, driven largely by growth in China, Other Asian countries and the Middle East. Consumption of heavy petrochemical feeds in the developed regions of the world is not expected to grow at all over the next five years through 2017. While there will be petrochemical volume recovery in North America, feedslate selection will favor ethane and propane; in Western Europe, production will face the headwinds of higher costs for derivatives.