29–31 May 2024

New Orleans, USA

Energy & Sustainability Forum North America


Decarbonizing the Downstream Industry

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The 2024 ESF North America:
Energy & Sustainability Forum is coming to New Orleans!

Helping to accelerate North America’s energy transition and the development of a sustainable energy future in which the refining and chemicals industries continue to play a leading role, ESF North America is the only event dedicated to downstream decarbonization and sustainability.

Catalyzing trillions of dollars' worth of project growth and production over the next decade, 2022’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has propelled the US as global leaders in the energy transition.

It's no longer a question of IF we should be decarbonizing it's HOW we do it, and do it profitably whilst balancing competing pressures from shareholders, stakeholders, customers, and policymakers to provide a range of options and products that are secure, affordable, and sustainable.

As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. As we move forward, we need to harness the magic of the industry, and its talent and infrastructure and become collaborators toward achieving our net zero goals.

... and with all that in mind, ESF North America will support the refining and chemicals industry to quickly and profitably reduce the carbon intensity and emissions of its assets, products and processes.

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Morning Pre-Conference Seminar by WOOD

Wednesday 29th May 2024, 09:00–12:00 (CT)

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Complimentary registration open to all operators and end-users

Detailed information to follow shortly

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ESF North America 2024 Advisory Meeting Report Cover

2024 Advisory Meeting Takeaways Report

Meeting held on the 7th December 2023

Join our Esteemed Speaker Panel

Taking a technology-neutral approach, ESF North America will present and explore all the decarbonization technologies and strategies on the table including:

  • Sustainable fuels, chemicals and circularity
  • Low carbon hydrogen, green ammonia and methanol
  • CCUS
  • Energy efficiency and asset optimization, including digitisation
  • Waste water use and management
  • The energy trilemma - secure, affordable, and sustainable
  • Industrial integration and clusters

Case studies and practical examples of technology application and implementation will be favoured!

Submit Your Abstract
by 8 March 2024

Highlights from San Francisco

A huge thank you to all of our speakers, sponsors, and attendees who attended ESF North America 2023 from the 31st May – 2nd June in San Francisco. We were delighted to see so many familiar, and new faces join us and contribute to its success.

We’re excited to share the post-event report, highlights video and photo gallery below.

2 Seminars

56 Speakers &

16 Hours of Content

10+ Hours Of

280 Registered Delegates

123 Pre-arranged
in-person meetings

ESF North America, San Francisco
ESF North America, San Francisco
ESF North America, San Francisco
ESF North America, San Francisco

2023 Key Speakers

Latest Insights

Exclusive first-hand insights, reports and interviews at the pulse of the global oil and gas downstream industry

Energy Efficiency: a Bridge Between Profitability & Sustainability - a conversation with Sumit Chintawar, Alfa Laval


Energy Efficiency: a Bridge Between Profitability & Sustainability: with Sumit Chintawar, Alfa Laval

While faced with a multitude of challenges, refineries around the world are increasingly ...

Interview with Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President and CEO, WSPA


Fueling Collaboration: A Conversation with Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President & CEO, WSPA

We caught up with Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President & CEO of Western State Petroleum Association ...

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CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Taking The Low Carbon Lead

Decarbonization in the US has had its biggest boost to date thanks to the recent Inflation Reduction ...

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President and CEO, WSPA

Fueling Collaboration: A Conversation with
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President & CEO, WSPA

Ahead of ESF North America, proud to be taking place in San Francisco, we caught up with Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President & CEO of Western State Petroleum Association (WSPA), a non-profit trade association that represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in five of the US Western States: Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, to discuss some of the key topics that are facing these five States and the wider industry in its journey to a more sustainable future.
Here's a sneak peek at some of the discussion ahead of the full video interview release next week!

1. How does the industry differentiate between short-term affordability and medium-long-term decarbonization delivery?

Every company has their own view, and that's an exciting piece of the equation. I find that fascinating because it gives the widest breadth of options for all of us to consider, given each of the companies’ expertise. I think it's a healthy, good thing.

There’s one thing that everybody agrees on, we must continue to provide communities the energy they need. That balance of affordability and decarbonization is the challenge. I think it’s a misconception to think this industry is opposed to sustainable innovation because that's the farthest thing from the truth. We have unique expertise in capitalizing on the science and the facts of how one gets from where we are, and to where we want to go.

I think it’s a misconception to think this industry is opposed to sustainable innovation because that's the farthest thing from the truth.

We have aggressive climate goals in all our Western states, especially California, Washington and Oregon; but we don't oppose the goals, we try to put together a realistic plan to help the states get where they want to go.

So, when you hear our industry talk about an 'all of the above' energy strategy, this is because we don't think you should pick winners and losers. We don't think you should focus on one single technology. We think the market is the best course to let it drive innovation and find consistency in our energy supply as we plan for the future.

We've provided several options for the Administration, the Air Resources Board, and the Energy Commission to consider because we do believe you can reach these goals. We think there's a better way that's more affordable and doesn't have some of the economic implications that we're seeing in the current plans.

2. In your opinion, what role has the recent Inflation Reduction Act played in changing the conversation and levelling this playing field at both federal and state levels?

I think in concept it has some really good aspects in regard to doing anything we can do to benefit the country. The worry I have is that there are several issues related to affordability, cost and how one goes about this. Costs and taxes, in my opinion, and in the opinion of our industry, is a dangerous policy that's not rooted in what we would call energy reality. More taxes on energy companies, especially in an energy crisis mode, imposing $11.7 billion is going to result in higher prices for consumers, not lower prices.

3. Why is it so important for WSPA to be a part of the conversation and solution(s)?

We've powered the economy for over a century, so we must have a seat at the table. It's imperative we have a seat at the table. It's imperative that there's a recognition of the incredible brain trust that really resides in these companies, in our members, and in our workers. It's just remarkable from my standpoint. I've been in this business now for over 40 years, and so I've seen the innovation. I've been involved in rolling out three cleaner burning gasolines, removing lead from gasoline and going to ultra-low-sulphur diesel. All these innovations and improvements in the fuel that we produce, and the relationship of the automobile and the fuel that moves it, it's incredible. I think we need the recognition that we have to be a partner, we have to have a seat at the table, and we are part of the backbone of the United States economy. There just seems such a reluctance to have us at the table when we're so willing to be there. It would just be nice if we were not on the menu.

4. How has WSPA and your members championed collaboration and built partnerships with a common focus of reducing collective carbon emission?

We know that no one has the corner on wisdom. We think we have a lot to offer, but we also know that everyone has a lot to offer. We work with the environmental community; we work with the environmental justice community; we work in the communities to try to understand how they view energy, how they view quality of life, and what's important to them. It's not a matter of what's important to us, it's really a matter of what's important to the constituents, to the consumers, to the communities that we serve. I think some of the things we've done with the environmental justice community, not to get into too much of the weeds, but AB 617 was a bill that really engaged the environmental justice community throughout the state of California to collaborate on an approach to reduce emissions in their backyard, as we're also looking at greenhouse gas emissions criteria, pollutants are equally as important to the health of these communities, and so we are in big collaboration on that program.

So those are just some of the things that we've been involved in, but our members are involved across the spectrum in all these things. Also collaborating with higher education institutions, we've done a lot of work with Stanford, Berkeley, Davis, and UCLA. We try to engage Lawrence Livermore Labs. We try to engage with all of the resources we have in the academic community because that's a very important stakeholder as we talked prior to everyone having a seat at the table. The whole academic and research side of this equation is absolutely critical, and so we do a lot of work with them to partner on biofuels, alternative fuels, and on battery technology.

5. What lower-hanging fruit efficiencies and incremental benefits are still available to the industry?

Certainly, efficiencies in the CAFE standards on the vehicle side certainly is of interest. The hybrid technology is way overlooked. We have hybrid vehicles that I think in the short term bring such a benefit because they deal with the challenge of just pure electrics which ranges from range anxiety to cost to availability. Hybrids can really serve such a significant role in that gap. So I think they're overlooked, frankly, and I think that's a low-hanging fruit we should continue to focus on.

I think the other one that is frustrating in California is our ability to actually move forward on carbon capture sequestration. We have companies around the world, as you know, that are successful in this technology and want to deploy it in California, but the opposition to this technology is very strong here, not necessarily from the government side, but certainly from the environmental justice community who are trying to work with us on understanding what the concerns of that technology are because it is a known technology. It certainly can help us, and actually in California to meet our 2045 carbon neutrality goals.

6. What do you hope the discussion from a conference like ESF North America will help your members and the wider industry to achieve over the next 12 months?

That's a very good question. I think most importantly, what I hope comes out of the conference is a recognition that we share the same goals, that there's more that unites us than divides us, that we trust in each other's expertise and desire to move towards a sustainable energy future together, not apart, and that everybody does actually have a voice at the table and a seat at the table.

What I hope comes out of the conference is a recognition that we share the same goals, that there's more that unites us than divides us, that we trust in each other's expertise and desire to move towards a sustainable energy future together ...

And that we don't demonise any party and welcome them to the table to try to solve these problems together, because again, we don't think we have the corner on wisdom, but we do believe we have a lot to offer, and I hope out of the conference that we can have a renewed interest in really working together on the environment, the economy and our decarbonization because I think they go hand and glove.

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CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Taking The Low Carbon Lead

Decarbonization in the US has had its biggest boost to date thanks to the recent Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Authorizing $396 billion in clean energy and decarbonization expenditure over 10 years, the historic law seeks to enhance US energy security, expand clean and renewable energy production, jump-start carbon reduction and sequestration technologies, accelerate decarbonization of the vehicle fleet, and promote a host of other climate policies.

Whilst the hope is that the Inflation Reduction Act will set off a movement to establish a national energy policy, the reality is that climate change policies in California are far from new or revolutionary. In fact, eleven years ago, the Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) was designed to reduce emissions from transportation fuels, the largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions.

To discuss California, the state leading the US’ energy transition, we recently hosted a panel joined by Tiffany Roberts, State Government Affairs Manager, Western Region, Phillips 66, Melinda Palmer, Vice President – Regulatory & Public Affairs, Kern Energy, Shant Apekian, Vice President, California Policy and Strategic Affairs, Western States Petroleum Association and David Brown, Director, Scenarios and Technologies, Wood Mackenzie to reflect on how California has responded to some of the state and federal level climate goals, to consider how it will balance short term affordability with the need to balance long term decarbonization objectives and discuss policy recommendations for the state to advance its decarbonization agenda.

An evolution of climate policy

Firstly, looking at how California’s energy industry has responded to climate goals. There is a lot of history with the state’s role in climate policy, where the first targets were passed in 2005. Over time there has been an evolution in the conversation around climate policy, to which the industry has responded in an evolutionary way.

David Brown, Wood Mackenzie

In 2006 when AB 32, (the Assembly Bill 32/California Global Warming Solutions Act) was passed, there was a lot of ambivalence about what the targets actually meant, and a lot of ambivalence about the role of markets vs command-and-control (CAC).

Over time the industry has become more accustomed to the distinction between markets and command and control approaches to climate policy, highlighted by the industry’s support of the cap-and-trade reauthorization in 2017.

California has some of the most ambitious goals and regulations in the world which came on thick and fast; AB 32, LCFS, Cap-and-Trade, Truck and Bus, Off-Road Vehicle & Equipment. This layering of multiple regulations and policies in quick succession certainly threw the industry in at the deep end.

Policies and goals continue to be pushed as the state looks to go further, faster. Shifting the conversation from goals to compliance, and from the what? to the how? key questions today include “how do we comply?”, “how do we do it in a cost-effective manner?” and “how do we do it in a technology neutral manner?”

All of the above approach

As California, the US, and the world faces an energy affordability crisis, discussion turned to the options for California to balance short term affordability with medium term decarbonization. Rather than ask what options does California have, instead we have to ask what is California open to? Is the state open to an all of the above approach underpinned by the idea that the common enemy is fossil carbon, not the industry Itself?

The industry has existing talent and infrastructure that can be part of the solution. There are incremental benefits still available by improving and cleaning up existing assets and processes through carbon capture, efficiency, and waste heat recovery etc.

Looking specifically at some of the options, conversation turned to California’s openness to CCS. Despite the state being very progressive when it comes to climate change, far ahead of many in many ways, when it comes to CCS, California is far behind. The state is struggling to put in place the policy and legal frameworks to actualize it. A lot of the pushback is not policy. The regulators and public understand its importance and key role to achieve climate goals. There is not one scientist or academic institution that doesn't say you can get to 2045, 2050 without significant investment in CCS, however the political barriers are still too great.

Tiffany Roberts, Phillips 66

Exacerbating this is California’s environmental justice community. The EJ movement came out of California, which the state is very proud of. Despite their value and legitimate issues, they have gone to the extreme on a lot of the climate issues, putting enormous pressure on policymakers and the administration, ultimately stifling progress moving forward. One of the main reasons why CCS policy is not moving forward is in large partly through the opposition of that community.

Shant Apekian, Western States Petroleum Association

Discussion moved to the Biden administration and recently announced $9.5bn of government funding for the development of atleast four regional H2 hubs. What’s the appetite for hydrogen development in California? Specifically in Kern Country, it has a rich wealth of resources, positioning it as an energy leader, both in terms of oil and gas, but also renewable energy which supports the creation of one or more of those hubs to continue to grow the rich renewable resources and carry it forward.

California is a diverse state in terms of its population and resources, which requires a diverse set of solutions to meet its energy needs.

Reflecting on what California can learn from its Europe counterparts who, like California, have robust and aggressive decarbonization goals, the main take-away is the need for an ‘all of the above approach’, and not just to talk about it, but demonstrate it. There is a role for renewable diesel, a role for hydrogen, a role for traditional fuels and so on. Regulators have a tendency to put their finger on one technology, but there is no silver bullet.

Digging further into the point around the need for a diverse set of solutions, market demand for liquid fuels will remain for some time, which lacks recognition. Even under CARB’s, the most aggressive electrification scenario that California will ban the internal combustion engine in 2035, analysis continues to shows strong liquid fuel demands well into the future.

As put by one panellist, “the main thing is keeping the main thing, the main thing”. Why are we doing any of this? Why does any of it matter? To improve the lives of our residents, and their public health, and make energy more affordable and resilient. If we lose sight of that as we're moving forward, we're not keeping “the main thing the main thing”.

Walking the walk

The need for pragmatism and clarity, heavily dependent on policy was a clear take-away of the discussion. What needs to be done from a policy perspective to see some of those goals advanced? As put by one of the panellists, "we need to walk the walk”. Taking CCS as an example, the industry needs three P’s. First permitting certainty, which applies not just to CCS projects, but all conversion, and greenhouse gas reduction projects. Today, no company or developer will invest without that level of certainty on the permitting side. Second, the legal framework on pore space rights requires a legislative fix. Despite the issue in itself is not political, it's become such a hot button issue that it has become politicized, stifling progress. Finally, pipeline, and making sure that the infrastructure is there for those who want to invest (in CCS projects). Furthermore, a credit system, to ensure appropriate credit for emission reduction (whether LCFS or cap-and-trade) needs to be in place to pursue the projects.

From the bottom up

Discussing approaches to planning in more detail. Often enough, the state has already set the table, that requires the industry to reverse engineer towards the answer. We need to change the way that we come to the table and instead build from the bottom up, and look across the board to evaluate all of the different opportunities for reducing emission reductions from a technological perspective, a sectoral perspective, and build it through analysis and optimization.

Discussing the LCFS specifically. Does the creation and management of its goals need to be re- imagined? As we see more renewable fuels come online, the electrification credit in the programme muddies the waters.

Bifurcating electricity and electricity credits associated with transportation would be a good direction to continue to incentivize the production of those fuels.

Over time we have seen a shift in opinion of the LCFS. Today there is a recognition that there are opportunities for different fuels, and different technologies and the LCFS is a tool to ultimately achieve climate goals in a more equitable and technology neutral way. It highlights that there is more than one path to where we're trying to get to.

Melinda Palmer, Kern Oil & Refining Co.

We need to change the way that we come to the table and instead build from the bottom up, and look across the board to evaluate all of the different opportunities

Moving forward, the LCFS will continue to drive innovation, not only in new technologies and new feedstocks, but by forcing the industry to look at efficiencies in the different processes along the way.

Drawing the discussion to a close, the clear take-aways and conclusions were the need for a scoping plan of priorities backed by an all of the above approach that recognizes the potential contribution of all technologies.

Better recognition that policy design impacts consumers and impacts the price at the pump is required. A climate policy that is affordable, and equitable will move the ball forward.

We must be open to innovation, and open to all solutions. Science must drive policy as opposed to policy trying to drive the science.

Energy and Sustainability Forum North America 2022, Houston, California Dreaming Panel Discussion

From left to right: David Brown, Wood Mackenzie - Tiffany Roberts, Phillips 66 - Shant Apekian, Western States Petroleum Association - Melinda Palmer, Kern Energy

This article is part of the ESF North America 2022 Post-Show Report. If you have enjoyed the piece and wish to read more, you can downlad the full report here.

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Energy Efficiency: a Bridge Between Profitability & Sustainability
A Conversation with Sumit Chintawar, Fossil & Renewable Fuels BDM, Alfa Laval

While faced with a multitude of challenges, refineries around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of energy efficiency at an operational level. Ahead of ESF North America, Sumit Chintawar, Fossil & Renewable Fuels BDM at Alfa Laval, recently shared some insights about their multi-faceted energy efficiency approach which brings refineries a multitude of benefits: from savings cost, increase productivity, enhance competitiveness to improve reliability and corporate reputation, reduce fossil fuels dependency and so much more.

1. What does Alfa Laval see as the first steps to be taken to create and implement an energy efficiency plan?

In Alfa Laval we believe that there are two ways of approaching an energy efficiency plan:

  1. Strategic approach
    In this type of approach, refineries are focused on devising projects with the goal of optimizing energy efficiency. This approach is implemented to significantly reduce the Energy Intensity Index (EII). Examples may include redesigning the preheat train of crude to a tighter pinch, reducing the furnace duty, or utilizing waste heat from air coolers (condensers or product coolers) to heat boiler feed water.
  2. Opportunistic approach
    In this type of approach, a refinery seeks to combine energy efficiency with every expenditure opportunity. Whenever they plan to use money to run the unit reliably and safely, they consider whether it can be used instead to reduce emissions and utilities while also improving energy efficiency. For instance, when it is time to replace the shell and tube heat exchanger in a feed to bottoms exchanger position, they may choose to spend the approved maintenance funding to install a highly efficient plate heat exchanger technology instead, allowing them to recover more energy from the bottoms to feed.

2. What are the benefits of implementing energy efficiency solutions?

Refineries around the world are beginning to recognize the importance of energy efficiency for their operations. By implementing energy efficiency solutions, refineries can see multiple benefits, including cost savings, increased productivity, enhanced competitiveness, and environmental benefits. Not only that, but refineries can also improve their reliability, corporate reputation, and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. With all these benefits, it is clear that energy efficiency solutions can help them bridge the gap between profitability and sustainability, making their operations more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable.

3. Crude oil refining accounts for 6-8 % of all global industrial energy consumption, with energy costs adding up to 50% of total OPEX for some refineries. Today’s high energy price presents a good opportunity to reinforce the role that energy efficiency plays in driving the longer-term energy transition. How is Alfa Laval helping companies in North America to reach their profitability goals through energy efficiency?

Alfa Laval is helping companies in North America to reach their profitability goals through energy efficiency by supporting downstream industry to identify energy-saving opportunities and implement them using Alfa Laval’s high-efficiency heat exchangers technology. These solutions are designed to improve the efficiency and reliability of refinery processes, reducing energy consumption and operating costs.

All stakeholders in a refinery—including process licensors, energy managers, process engineers, and plant managers—have a role to play in minimizing environmental impact and maximizing profitability. At Alfa Laval, we collaborate with these stakeholders to identify and exploit energy efficiency opportunities within their projects and process units.

We offer onsite training, webinars, and technical discussion sessions to guide stakeholders in the right direction so they can make informed decisions in their day-to-day activities that contribute to profitability and sustainability. Our thirty years of experience and installation of over 3,000 high-efficiency exchangers globally in refinery applications are proof of our competence when it comes to delivering high performance, energy savings, carbon emission reduction, reduced maintenance costs and improved profitability.

We recently helped a client reduce project CAPEX by 10%. Here's what we did: (Debottleneck naphtha hydrotreaters with highest project ROI | Alfa Laval)

A Midwest refinery was working on a crude flexibility project and found that their Naptha Hydrotreater would be a bottleneck to process an excess capacity of 40% through their existing unit. The bottleneck was around the capacity of their fired heater, and they were unable to increase the heater capacity by modification or replacement with a larger heater as the process unit was at part with their nameplate emission limits. In response, the refinery contacted Alfa Laval to work on a solution and, together with the process and project engineer, they decided to improve heat recovery in a feed/effluent exchanger before the reactor, which enabled the use of the existing heater and was within their emission limits. This solution involved two high efficiency and compact Compabloc plate heat exchangers, which had a performance equivalent to 12 Shell & Tubes in series. This solution also helped the refinery reduce project CAPEX by 10%, and with no extra emissions, reduced energy cost on the downstream air cooler, they were able to achieve their goal of processing an excess capacity of 40% through the asset.

4. What is holding the industry back from implementing energy efficiency practices?

Refineries are currently facing a multitude of challenges when it comes to energy efficiency: Technology Awareness, Traditional Thinking, Economics on Energy Efficient projects/Financial Risk, Management Will and the Lack of strong policies in the US. To overcome these issues, we must take a multi-faceted approach. Technology awareness is key to understanding and implementing the latest energy-efficient technologies and processes. Traditional thinking must be addressed by encouraging innovation, research and the exploration of new processes. Economics on energy efficient projects/financial risk can be reduced through value engineering & tech to reduce CAPEX. Management support will, and is essential for the successful implementation of energy efficiency measures. Finally, the lack of strong policies in the US is mitigated by joining energy-efficient movements to advocate and educate for stronger policies.

5. What do you hope the discussion from a conference like ESF North America will help your members and the wider industry to achieve over the next 12 months?

ESF North America can be a game-changer for the industry, providing a vital forum for members to stay up to date with the most pressing sustainability issues, collaborate on solutions, and explore creative strategies for progress. By inspiring members to take proactive steps, it can be a powerful force for real, lasting change, building a sustainable future for generations to come.

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