Refineries are made up of a number of different process units. The combination of process units that the refinery has is its configuration.

The more units a refinery has, the better its ability to run lower-quality (cheaper) crude grades, and to make a high proportion of light (higher-value) products such as diesel and gasoline.

Typically the configuration is described in terms of the most value-creating process unit at the refinery. For example, a refinery with a coker and a hydrocracker would likely be described as having a coking/hydrocracking configuration.

Some examples of common configuration definitions:

A quantitative measure of a refinery’s configuration is its complexity number. A complex refinery has a complexity number of 12-15. A simple refinery has a complexity number below 8.

McKinsey uses cookies to improve site functionality, provide you with a better browsing experience, and to enable our partners to advertise to you. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this Site, and how you can decline them, is provided in our cookie policy. By using this Site or clicking on "OK", you consent to the use of cookies.