Applications and Benefits of Operations Research in Oil, Gas and Chemicals

The optimization techniques of OR can be applied to many different challenges in the Petroleum and Chemicals industries, such as:

Integrated Supply Chain Optimization

Planning and scheduling are resource-intensive, complex, rolling processes. Decisions are taken at different stages within the supply chain (supply, manufacturing and distribution) and at different levels in the management hierarchy (planning, scheduling and operations). At the strategic and global planning level for a network of manufacturing plants, decisions have to be taken on feedstock procurement & distribution, utilization of production capacities, utilization of modes of transport and demand allocation. Not only existing capabilities have to be considered, but also new opportunities in all areas have to be evaluated.

Decision support tools must therefore be provided within a coherent framework, including mechanisms which allow consistent economic and operational steering, taking due account of available (real-time) information on actual operations and market economics.

Crude oil scheduling

Crude oil scheduling covers the allocation, timetabling, crude blending and sequencing activities from the waterfront (arrival of crude ships) through the crude pipelines to the crude distillation units. An OR application can provide an optimal schedule for the discharge of crude, the pipeline and the crude distillers (sequencing, timing and sizing of crude batches), plus planning indications for new crude arrivals. Enhanced decision support can include improved and timely reaction to change and opportunities (e.g. distressed crude cargoes, ship and pumping delays, operation disturbances) and improved integration between crude acquisition and unit scheduling.

Refinery blending

An OR application for refinery blending can include blend scheduling and mix optimization. It can handle the complete pooling and blending problem, and optimize both the blend schedules and the mixes under a complete set of real-life operational constraints. Such an AIMMS-based system can offer user flexibility in that the user can decide upon the number of components, fuel mixtures, long versus short term scheduling, and stand-alone versus refinery-wide scheduling.

Catalytic cracker optimization

OR can be used very effectively to optimize the steady-state setpoints of a chemical process. A good example is catalytic cracking, which refers to a refining process in which hydrocarbons are converted into products with a lower molecular mass. A typical AIMMS application for catalytic cracking support has several major components:

  • a graphical user interface consisting of interactive pages, validation routines, plus reporting and data handling facilities,
  • the model equations, including those for heat, yields, product properties, economics, and
  • an on-line process control environment with an off-line mode in which multiple studies with differing parameters and variables can be compared.

Data reconciliation

Data reconciliation is the process of making the smallest possible adjustment to a collection of measurements within a system such that the adjusted data values satisfy all the balance constraints applicable to the system. Using the AIMMS modeling system, data reconciliation has been applied to chemical processes, requiring that the relevant mass, component and thermodynamic balances be satisfied for all units within the system.

News items in Oil, Gas and Chemicals involving the use of AIMMS

Case Studies in Petrochemicals

Read more about actual AIMMS applications in Petrochemicals in the following case studies:

AIMMS Examples in Petrochemicals

To help you get started building an AIMMS optimization model tailored to your needs, we have developed a few small working examples. You can download these examples via the table below, and run them after installing the AIMMS software.


AIMMS Customers in Oil, Gas and Chemicals include: