Real Option Management of Hydrocarbon Cracking Operations
Commodity conversion assets play important economic roles. It is well known that the market value of these assets can be maximized by managing them as real options on the prices of their inputs and/or outputs. In particular, when futures on these inputs and outputs are traded, managing such real options, that is, valuing, hedging, and exercising them, is analogous to managing options on such futures, using risk neutral valuation and delta hedging methods. This statement holds because dynamically trading portfolios of these futures and a risk less bond can replicate the cash °ows of these assets. This basic principle is not always appreciated by managers of commodity conversion assets. Moreover, determining the optimal operational cash °ows of such an asset requires optimizing the asset operating policy. This issue complicates the real option management of commodity conversion assets. This chapter illustrates the application of this approach to manage a hydrocarbon cracker, a specific commodity conversion asset, using linear programming and Monte Carlo simulation. The discussion is based on a simplified representation of the operations of this asset. However, the material presented here has potential applicability to the real option management of more realistic models of hydrocarbon cracking assets, as well as other energy and commodity conversion assets.