From Ground to Gate: A lifecycle assessment of petroleum processing activities in the United Kingdom
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Petroleum products are an important component of today s societal energy needs. Petroleum powers everything from the vehicles people rely on, to the ships that carry goods around the world, to the heating of homes in colder climates. The petroleum process chain is complex and the environmental impacts within the process chain are not always well understood. A deeper understanding of where emissions come from along the process chain will help policy makers in the path towards a less carbon intensive society. One of the core processes of the petroleum process chain is refining. Petroleum refining is a complicated process which can have varying crude inputs and varying fuel outputs depending upon the refinery make-up, the crude blend and the market conditions at the time of production. The goal of this paper is to introduce a lifecycle analysis on the UK petroleum refining sector. Where emissions occur along the process chain and which fuels cause the most pollution on a per unit basis will be reported and discussed using lifecycle analysis framework. The refining process is difficult to maneuver around and it can be difficult to discern which processes create which products. The analysis is broadened to understand the refining emissions associated with different fuel types at both a process and country level. The results can be relevant for environmental policy and decision makers. The original intent of this paper was to include gas processing. After discussion between advisor and student, the gas processing was not included after mutual agreement.