Crude Oil Assay: What it Means to Refiners

The value of a particular crude to a refiner depends on its quality.

27 September 2013

Crude oil generally has no inherent value typically without being processed into usable products. But why? The purpose of the petroleum refining industry is to convert feedstocks including raw crude oil into usable specification products. More specifically, the value of a particular crude to a refiner depends on its quality and whether this refiner can economically obtain a satisfactory product pattern that matches market demand. 

Petroleum refiners determine the products they will make with the goal of maximizing profits based on the supply and cost of various types of available crude oils. Refinery configuration is essential in determining the suitability of crude oils for a given refinery. Additionally, the examination or characterization of crude oil is also a vital element in refinery planning, operations, and capital project decisions. 

Crude oil assays provide a combination of physical and chemical data that uniquely describe or characterize a crude oil and allow for the evaluation of quality parameters. Likewise, the assay provides valuable information that is utilized to assess refining characteristics and is used in various Linear Program (LP) modeling and optimization tools. 

Overall, crude oil assay provides the refiner with the data needed to make informed decisions in the areas of crude selection, scheduling and planning. It is also a valuable tool that aids in the optimization of various refining processes. 

Do you have specific questions about crude oil assays? Please leave a comment and one of our experts will get back to you.

Today’s Expert blogger is Steve McArthur, Laboratory Technical Services Representative for Intertek’s North America Commodities Team. Steve provides strategic direction for Intertek’s crude oil assay testing services operating in a technical support capacity across our global network of crude assay centers. He is based in our Houston Operations Center located in Pasadena, TX office.