World-class Refineries

The TonenGeneral Group leads the industry in implementing advanced initiatives for energy conservation at our refineries and petrochemical plant. As a result, our track record for energy conservation is consistently among the best in the industry. Through our highly efficient refinery operations, we work to reduce effects on the environment.

Energy efficiency in the TonenGeneral Group

In June 2016, based on reported results for fiscal year 2015, three TonenGeneral Group companies, including TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K., Kyokuto Petroleum industries, Ltd. (acquired by TonenGeneral Sekiyu in an absorption-type merger on July 1, 2015) and Tonen Chemical Corporation, were officially recognized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy having achieved the targets of the government’s energy benchmarks, used to determine the advancement of energy conservation initiatives, pursuant to the Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy (Energy Conservation Law). This was public acknowledgement of the high degree of energy efficiency with which the TonenGeneral Group operates its refineries and chemical plant, all located in Japan. Comparing the average energy efficiency of the Group’s four refineries and that of Tonen Chemical’s ethylene manufacturing facility to the average figures for refineries and ethylene manufacturing facilities in Japan, calculations based on the benchmarks indicate that emission reduction effects for CO2, a greenhouse gas, of the Group’s four refineries and Tonen Chemical’s ethylene manufacturing facility surpass the average CO2 emission reduction effects of refineries and ethylene manufacturing facilities in Japan by over 500,000 tons annually, equivalent to the average annual CO2 emissions of around 100,000 households*.
The Group has therefore already achieved world-class energy efficiency and we will continue to strive for energy conservation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The stated goal in our medium-term management plan is to improve energy conservation by 1% annually, which is equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by 50,000 tonnes per year.

  • * Calculations based on data from the National Institute for Environmental Studies.

Mechanisms for ensuring energy conservation

(1) Appointment of energy leaders

The effective promotion of energy conservation initiatives requires capital investment for improving energy efficiency, and the Group has been making these types of investments for years. In addition to these financial and technological efforts, we believe our various initiatives in the area of human efforts have also contributed to our world-class status in energy conservation.
This human aspect is represented by our system for guiding a Group-wide energy conservation effort. The Group appoints a leader in the Manufacturing Technology & Engineering Division to oversee energy conservation activities for the entire Group. In addition to devising strategies and setting goals for energy conservation activities as well as supervising follow-ups, the leader serves as a technical advisor in determining practical ways to conserve more energy.
Along with a leader to oversee Group-wide efforts, we also appoint energy leaders for each refinery location. By appointing a senior manager to this position to exercise leadership with authority and influence, we ensure that each site is steadily implementing actions. These leaders take the initiative on energy conservation efforts at their respective locations while exchanging information and sharing best practices with other sites.
We are also engaged in bottom-up energy conservation efforts as operators working at the front lines of site operations at each location actively participate in energy conservation activities at their own initiative. In this way we pursue energy-saving activities through a united effort between our technical and operational segments.

Satoshi Ikenoue
Energy Team Leader Manufacturing Technology & Engineering Division
(2)Visualizing data

What types of energy are we using and where is the energy being used? Where can we find additional opportunities to reduce energy consumption? How should we change our operating variables? To answer these questions, the Group visualizes data. In concrete terms, we visually portray the targets for operating variables related to energy and confirm the current status. Data can be accessed by the refinery manager and other senior managers in addition to operators responsible for the facility. The use of real-time data makes this system unique and effective.
We begin each day by confirming the status of energy conservation and identifying opportunities for improvement. Senior managers at each location review results monthly and present quarterly reports to the company’s executive management. This system ensures that every refinery location and the Group as a whole maintain a high awareness of energy conservation.

An energy conservation initiative at the Wakayama refinery
(3)Setting targets and identifying means for their achievement
Identifying concrete means for improving energy efficiency is essential. We base our targets on the results of deliberation on both the content and areas of actions to be taken, as well as our estimates related to the outcomes of these actions. We also appoint staff to oversee each measure. Discrepancies between targets and results for each action are analyzed and further improvements are made.
As a result of these efforts, we have developed a shared awareness of energy conservation, from executive management to operators at the front lines of work sites.

An organizational culture that encourages energy conservation efforts

In addition to the mechanisms described above, our world-class status in energy conservation is also due to the high level of technical expertise and awareness of the employees behind our efforts. Each year, the Group offers a presentation on energy conservation at the Kawasaki International Eco-Tech-Fair. This report is particularly noteworthy in that it is not presented by technical staff but by site operators, who summarize their own energy conservation activities and prepare the necessary reference materials.
We take pride in knowing that the advanced technological capability of our technical staff and our front line operators, along with a strong sense of purpose in our Group-wide energy conservation activities, help to make us a global leader in energy conservation.

Monthly meeting of the Energy Management Committee at the Kawasaki refinery

Refining processes and greenhouse gases

Crude oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons, including those refined into gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil and other products. In the first step of the refining process, crude oil is heated to 350˚C, and the vapor is fed into an atmospheric distillation unit, where it is distilled into various components, or fractions, of different boiling points. The fractions are then cooled and returned to a liquid state for supply to other refining units for further processing. In these refining units, the fractions are repeatedly heated and cooled, and the resulting products are put into storage tanks. In this series of refining processes, greenhouse gases are generated through the burning of fuel used in the various heating processes. However, by effectively utilizing waste heat generated during the cooling processes, we can minimize the amount of fuel needed for the heating processes, thereby conserving energy while curbing the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our refining processes.

Reducing effects on the environment through the recovery of waste heat

One of the energy conservation initiatives implemented at our refineries is the effective utilization of waste heat. Waste heat generated in our cooling processes is recovered and used in crude oil heating processes, resulting in a reduction in the amount of fuel required for these processes, thus curbing the volume of greenhouse gas emissions generated by our refineries. Heat integration is another way that we effectively utilize waste heat.
Our high-efficiency refining facilities, along with our advanced, computerized control systems, also contribute to refinery energy conservation, thus helping to reduce effects on the environment. High-efficiency facilities use less energy than conventional facilities, reducing the amount of fuel required for refining operations, resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Though the effects of any individual energy conservation initiative may be small, the combined effects of several initiatives can be significant. By implementing all of our initiatives simultaneously throughout our refineries, we are working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50,000 tonnes per year. In this way, the pursuit of efficiency at our refineries is directly linked to the reduction of effects on the environment.

No heat recovery system
Heat recovery system
  • Calculations based on data from the National Institute for Environmental Studies.

One of our initiatives

In April 2016, we completed construction of a state-of-the-art mixed xylene recovery unit at our Chiba refinery. Conventional refinery configurations require two atmospheric distillation units, each with its own heating and cooling units. However, at Group refineries, we have introduced the latest atmospheric distillation units equipped with separation walls, so that the functions of two separate atmospheric distillation units can be carried out in a single unit.
By reducing the number of atmospheric distillation units, heating units and cooling units at our refineries, we have increased our energy efficiency, enabling us to reduce the amount of fuel required for refining operations, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, our refining units that generate waste heat are designed to allow this waste heat to be used in heating processes in other units, making our facilities highly energyefficient and conducive to reducing effects on the environment.