In this guide you will learn if processing your oil and cracking is worth it for energy generation purposes early in the game, and how much of a change do they make.
You will also learn the amount of refineries and power plants required to set up some basic, efficient setups.
Table of Contents
I wanted to evaluate how much energy I can get out of the oil and when it’s worth it to refine the oil further for energy purposes. So I did some math and decided to post it here in case others are trying to figure it out too.
In the sections below I will outline what kind of energy output you can expect out of oil at different stages of processing, what buildings you’ll need to take advantage of it, and when it’s not worth it at all to invest into processing or oil burning at all.
Do You Want To Process The Oil And How Much?
Let’s assume we are dealing with 120 oil/min (2/s). If we burn it as is, we’re getting 6,4 MW (factoring 80% efficiency of a thermal plant). Not a lot. So let’s try refining it.
Refining the oil gives us Hydrogen and Refined Oil. If we decide to burn both of them, it will give us 13,44 MW. However, we need to use 4 Refineries to process all that oil and they take quite a lot of power to operate. So, if we substract the operating costs we end up generating a net 9,6 MW. Much better, a round 50% improvement over just burning crude oil. Can we do even better?
Let’s try cracking. It gives us extra 50% of Hydrogen and some Graphite, but it costs us some refined oil in the process. We also need to add 2 more refineries to process it. So, do we actually gain more energy? Yes. How much? After substracting operating costs (6 refineries) we end up with net 11,64 MW of power. Provided you burn everything you end up producing. That is about 21% improvement over oil processing. Not a lot but it’s always something. You decide if you want to spend the extra building time to get that extra 20%. I would.
The final step to get the actual net energy generated is to substract the operating cost of your oil pumps. I did not include it in the calculations because the amount of pumps depends on the amount of geysers you’re using. You can do that on your own depending on your setup. I also did not include the power cost of the sorters because they require so little energy it’s irrelevant. They consume only 0.018 MW each, and spend most of their time in an idle state too, which amounts to less than a tenth of MW on average for a setup described above.
So, should you process your oil before burning it? Yes, you should. You can also do cracking for a little bit extra on top.
Thermal Plant Ratios
If you decide to build a setup for this, you’ll probably want to figure out the ratios of Thermal Plants per each resource, since after fracking you’re dealing with 3 different ones. I did that too, so here are some numbers for your convenience:
Let’s go with the same 120 oil/min. In this case, after fracking you end up with:
- 90 Hydrogen/min
- 30 Graphite/min
- 90 Refined Oil/min
If you want to be able to burn 100% of each resource under 100% power load, you will need the following ammount of Thermal Plants:
- 5 plants for Hydrogen
- 2 plants for Graphite
- 3 Plants for Refined Oil
So in total 10 plants. It’s worth noting however that not all of those plants will be working all the time. For example: you actually need 4,44 power plants to burn all that Hydrogen, however you cannot build 0,44 of a power plant, so you add an extra one so it can burn the excess. It’s the case with every single one of them. You can always drop the last plant and just build 4,1,3 plants respectively, you’ll end up with a consistent energy output that way but it will be lower as a result. Also you’ll be running the risk of plugging your entire energy network because you can’t deal with all the byproducts.
My personal advice on how to handle this is to add the extra plants and create storage buffers between the plants and the refineries producing stuff. This will allow you to deal with the excess of resources when you’re not utilizing 100% of the power, and allow you to reach the theoretical max energy output by utilizing said reserve. It will decrease the amount of maintenance you have to do too, since you won’t have to worry about getting rid of the excess of materials that could stop your entire production chain.
When Do You NOT Want to Process Oil?
As you saw in previous section, you need a significant amount of oil intake to properly supply power plants after going through processing and then cracking. If you don’t ahve enough oil, you’ll end up in situations where you don’t produce enough of the byproduct to power even a single thermal plant. Also, less oil you put in the more maintenance costs of refineries and pumps will eat into your margins. So in theory, there should be a point where it’s not worth it to process oil and simply burn crude oil. Well? Let’s see about that some possible scenarios
I factored in oil pump energy cost this time, 1 pump at 840 kW:
Case 1: 1 oil/s (60/min)
You need 2 refineries for processing and 1 for cracking, all are 100% efficient). This is the least oil you can pump into an energy setup with cracking for all the refineries to operate at 100% efficiency.
- Crude: 3,2 MW
- Processed: 3,96 MW
- Cracking: 4,98 MW
Case 2: 0.5 oil/s (30/min)
You need 1 refinery for processing and 1 for cracking, however that one will only be working 50% of the time since you cannot supply enough hydrogen with this little oil.
- Crude: 1,6MW
- Processed: 1,59 MW
- Cracking: 2.04 MW (On average, in practice it will fluctuate a lot since last refinery only works 50% of the time, do not recommend!!).
It seems that 30 oil/s is around the point where it stops mattering whether you burn crude oil or process it in any fashion. However, do note that 30 oil/s is not enough to properly supply even a single thermal plant with consistent resources at 100% load, so it’s not something you should be doing anyway. Also, I do not recommend processing oil if you don’t have at least 1 oil/s source available, you simply won’t have enough juice to support all the power plants.
I chose 2 oil/s because that’s a pretty good number to work with for building purposes, and also it provides a good and constant stream of fuel. 1,5 can work too, however you will have trouble supplying enough graphite for a single thermal plant, so in this case I’d recommend not to do cracking and just stick to basic processing.
So, what’s the conclusion?
- If you can supply around 2 oil/s, go for cracking.
- If you can supply about 1-1,5 oil/s, stick to basic processing
- If you cannot supply even 1 oil/s, don’t burn oil at all.
- Overall, the more oil you put into the setup, the more efficient it will be. So it’s actually worth it to put in even more than 2 oil/s, if you can do a full belt of 6 oil/s go for it!