We sat down with Dan Moore, President, ExxonMobil Catalysts and Licensing LLC , ahead of this year’s MERTC. This is is what he had to say:
Dan, you’ll be presenting at MERTC on ‘Addressing Challenges through Technology’. What do you see as some of the most significant challenges currently facing the Gulf’s downstream industry?
The downstream industry in the Gulf has benefitted enormously from the regional abundance of hydrocarbon resources. But patterns of supply and demand are undergoing both short and long-term shifts:
- Increasing demand for cleaning burning fuels is brought into sharp focus by changes to marine fuel sulphur specifications within the next year
- The emergence of shale in North America has brought new petrochemical competition for markets in the developing world in the form of gas based ethylene and polyethylene
- The long-term demand growth for chemicals is viewed as more robust than for fuels.
To continue to enhance this regions competitiveness, operators will continue to need to invest in technology short-term to enhance energy and process efficiency and longer-term to participate in petrochemical growth in the emerging markets of Asia.
The transition to petrochemicals is a global phenomenon. What makes the Middle East a particularly exciting region in this regard?
This region has a petrochemical heritage founded on abundant feedstock, cheap energy, large scale modern facilities and an educated workforce, making it a very competitive place to produce petrochemicals.
ExxonMobil will be showcasing “The EMTAM Process: A Path to Advantaged Paraxylene Production” during the conference. What more can you tell us about that?
Our toluene methylation process is a result of 20 years of R&D. Initially developed for ExxonMobil use, it is now available to 3rd Parties. While other methylation processes are at various stages of elaboration, EMCL’s toluene methylation is the only process commercially ready and actively licensed.
Toluene methylation presents two major advantages: 1) the ability to convert all reformate toluene to paraxylene, and 2) the flexibility of selling benzene when market favors benzene, or converting it to paraxylene when market favors paraxylene.
The presentation at MERTC will focus on the advantages provided by this unique route to paraxylene.
What you are looking forward to at this year’s MERTC?
Collaborating with our customers to solve shared challenges is the focus of ExxonMobil Catalysts and Technology Licensing group. During the conference I’m looking forward to hearing new ideas and discussing ways we can help potential customers succeed.