• refinery;
  • crude oil scheduling;
  • mixed-integer nonlinear programming;
  • nonconvex;
  • global optimality;
  • robust optimization


Scheduling of crude oil operations is an important component of overall refinery operations, because crude oil costs account for about 80% of the refinery turnover. The mathematical modeling of blending different crudes in storage tanks results in many bilinear terms, which transform the problem into a challenging, nonconvex, mixed-integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) optimization model. In practice, uncertainties are unavoidable and include demand fluctuations, ship arrival delays, equipment malfunction, and tank unavailability. In the presence of these uncertainties, an optimal schedule generated using nominal parameter values may often be suboptimal or even become infeasible. In this article, the robust optimization framework proposed by Lin et al. and Janak et al. is extended to develop a deterministic robust counterpart optimization model for demand uncertainty. The recently proposed branch and bound global optimization algorithm with piecewise-linear underestimation of bilinear terms by Li et al. is also extended to solve the nonconvex MINLP deterministic robust counterpart optimization model and generate robust schedules. Two examples are used to illustrate the capability of the proposed robust optimization approach, and the extended branch and bound global optimization algorithm for demand uncertainty. The computational results demonstrate that the obtained schedules are robust in the presence of demand uncertainty. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 58: 2373–2396, 2012