REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Focus on upgrades, launches in Middle East
The focus in the refinery sector in the Middle East has been on launches, as the new Al-Zour plant nears completion while KNPC has completed and started the CFP at its Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah.
Meanwhile, ADNOC has dropped plans to build a new refinery in Ruwais.
New and ongoing maintenance
New and revised entries
** Iran’s Imam Khomeini, also known as Arak, oil refinery started an overhaul on Oct. 9 expected to last 32 working days, according to the company. Units involved include isomax, gas purification, sour water purification, flares and phase one’s sulfur production. Some 1,500 workers will take part in the works.
** Syria’s Homs is undergoing staggered maintenance, which involves the delayed coker unit 11 and a coal unit as well as the CDU 100.
** KNPC has postponed planned major works at its Mina al-Ahmadi refinery to 2022. The works, involving CDUs, had been originally planned for 2021. As part of KNPC’s clean fuels upgrade project, which was completed in September, Mina al-Ahmadi is being integrated into a single 800,000 b/d capacity complex along with the Mina Abdullah refinery.
** Iran’s Isfahan started works on the 90,000 b/d distillation, visbreaker and LPG sections of unit 1 on July 25 until the end of September. Unit 1 uses an average 90,000 b/d of crude oil to produce LPG, light gasoline, crude gasoline, light and heavy gasoil and feedstock of isomax units, he said. Visbreaker unit 1 takes around 21,000 b/d to produce LPG, hot oil, gasoline and tar.
New and revised entries
**The Clean Fuels Project at Kuwait’s Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries, which was completed late September, is now fully operational, according to a source close to the company. The project involved modernizing and raising the capacity of Mina Abdullah and Mina al-Ahmadi respectively to 454,000 b/d and 346,000 b/d. The Clean Fuels Project, ongoing since 2014, seeks to combine and upgrade the Mina Abdullah and Mina al-Ahmadi refineries into a single 800,000 b/d complex. Work at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery was completed in 2020. All units at Mina Abdullah were completed in the summer.
** Iran’s Imam Khomeini also known as Arak oil refinery signed in July 2021 a Eur290 million technological deal with the Research Institute of Petroleum in a bid to produce 90,000 mt of needle coke on an annual basis, upon launching a coker unit. The move will help Iran with supply of the sanctioned material of needle petroleum coke. Sulfur content of the calcined needle coke will be up to 0.55%. “With preparation of tender documents and selection of the project’s contractor by the first half of the next [Iranian] year (September 2022), it is predicted that the needle coke production at Imam Khomeini refinery becomes operational in March-May 2025,” Gholamhossein Ramezanpour, managing director of the plant said. In addition to producing needle coke, the project will “cut down” the fuel oil production at the refinery from below 10% currently to zero. As a result of the upgrade, the refinery will produce Euro 4 and 5 gasoline and diesel. In 2019, the National Iranian Oil Products Refining and Distribution Company and the state-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation or IMIDRO signed an agreement for production of sponge and needle coke in Bandar Abbas and Arak refineries. Both refineries are building coke units.
** An approval by the Iraqi Council of Ministers is sought for a 17,000 b/d reformer and 31,000 b/d naphtha hydrotreater at the Basrah refinery, which will be part of the plan’s current upgrade. The two units will be built by a consortium including the State Company For Oil Projects (SCOP) and the Czech company UNIS, with duration expected at 43 months. A 70,000 b/d CDU unit at Basrah is near mechanical completion. Once online, the unit will raise the refinery’s capacity to 280,000 b/d. Preparations have also commenced to start work on the FCC unit by the Japanese Contractor JGC. The project consists of a fluid catalytic cracking unit (34,500 b/d), vacuum distillation unit (55,000 b/d) and a diesel desulfurization unit (40,000 b/d). The project is scheduled to be completed in 2025. The project aims to convert the excess fuel oil produced by the existing refinery units — 45% of the yield — to lighter products.
** Iran’s Abadan refinery has reported in July 2021 progress on its upgrade. “The Abadan oil refinery stabilization and expansion is like a new refinery that stands beside the old Abadan refinery…and the old refinery will be renovated,” Mohammad Rezaie, the National Iranian Oil Products Refining and Distribution director for research and technology, was quoted by the oil ministry-run news service Shana. The new plant includes all the processing units. The modernization of Abadan will provide high-quality, Euro-standardized diesel. According to Mehdi Arami, manager of the expansion and stabilization project, “one of other objectives of this project given its 360,000 b/d capacity is that the production of fuel oil will “lower from 40% to 25%.” Meanwhile, production of regular gasoline and kerosene will increase 16% and 25%, respectively. The Phase 2 upgrade started in February 2017. Phase 2 includes building atmospheric and vacuum units, as well as gasoline, diesel and kerosene distillation units, a sulfur unit, and a catalytic cracking unit. Abadan, with 400,000 b/d nameplate capacity, aims to stabilize its throughput at 360,000 b/d.
** Ecomar Energy Solutions has agreed to expand its refinery and build new storage capacity at Fujairah. Refinery capacity will be increased to 62,000 b/d from 22,000 b/d currently, and inland storage capacity will be increased more than fivefold to 1 million cu m in the phase 3 expansion, which should be completed by the end of 2024. Ecomar’s refinery will add an additional crude distillation unit, bringing it to 2 CDUs.
** Iran’s Isfahan refinery aims to reduce fuel oil output to zero upon completing upgrade. Currently fuel oil accounts for 18% of the refinery’s output. A desulfurization project has been designed in the plant to re-refine 81,000 b/d from distillation towers remaining to make lighter products. This project is due to go on stream by March 2025.
** The project to upgrade the quality of heavy products at Iran’s Bandar Abbas was 40% complete. Several units have been foreseen in this project including solvent de-asphalting, DAO purification, delayed coker, calcined coker, as well as downstream units such as for purification of naphtha and gasoil. Other units will produce and purify propylene, LPG, tar, hydrogen. Fuel oil production in the plant’s basket will be cut below 10% and its sulfur will reach up to 1%.
** Iran’s Persian Gulf Star’s 420,000 b/d condensate refining capacity will be raised by 60,000 b/d.
** Iran will accelerate the expansion and upgrade of the Shiraz refinery. The expansion, which started in 2017, was due to be completed in three years but was slowed down due to sanctions. The first phase of the expansion and upgrade will involve upgrading the gasoline quality, with the second phase involving a diesel upgrade. An isomerization unit and diesel hydrotreater will be built under the project, estimated at $300 million. Shiraz has around 50,000 b/d current capacity. The expansion will add 26,000 b/d.
** Following a major upgrade project, Iran’s Tabriz refinery expects to reduce its fuel oil production. The refinery currently produces 4 million l/d (1.416 million mt/year) of fuel oil, which is primarily used as a feedstock for tar. By about 2022, the refinery is expected to reduce fuel oil production from around 25% of product output to below 5%.
** The Kermanshah oil refinery in the west of Iran plans to raise capacity by 15,000 b/d and upgrade its products output. No target date for the start or completion of the work was given.
** A gas condensate project is under construction in Iran as part of eight planned 60,000 b/d condensate refineries around Siraf, Bushehr province.
** There is a program in Syria’s Ministry of Oil for the Homs Refinery to reach the highest possible production capacity.
** Bahrain Petroleum Co. is aiming to phase out all fuel oil production by 2025 and focus on diesel and jet fuel. A $6 billion upgrade and modernization project of BAPCO’s flagship Sitra refinery is now 60% complete. The program will also see the refinery’s capacity expand to 380,000 b/d from 267,000 b/d. In the summer of 2020, BAPCO said the refinery expansion had been delayed due to COVID-19. The project, whose original timescale was four years, had been slated for completion in 2022, but that plan has changed.
** Iraq’s oil minister has laid the foundation stone for two units of total capacity 20,000 b/d at the Haditha refinery site in the western province of Anbar. The units will raise the capacity of the plant to around 35,000 b/d from 16,000 b/d. International companies will be approached to bid for building an additional 35,000 b/d at the refinery, which will raise its overall capacity to 70,000 b/d.
** Iraq plans to rehabilitate and develop the Baiji complex north of Baghdad, where three refineries were damaged during the war with the Islamic State group. Currently one refinery is operating at 70,000 b/d, a second 70,000 b/d unit and a third 140,000 b/d facility should become operational. The third refinery would take total capacity at the Baiji complex back to 280,000 b/d, making it again the largest facility in the country.
** Iraq’s oil ministry announced plans to upgrade the country’s 20,000 b/d Qayyarah refinery, with the aim of adding a second 70,000 b/d production unit that would take the total capacity of the plant to 90,000 b/d.
** Iraq has added another 10,000 b/d of refining capacity after completing the rehabilitation of a CDU at the Kasik refinery in the north of the country, the oil ministry said. Rehabilitation work continues at the refinery’s other 10,000 b/d CDU.
** Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. reported in August 2020 “significant progress” on the crude flexibility project, or CFP, at its Ruwais refinery, with “73% project delivery” of the ongoing upgrade. Upon completion in mid-2022, the CFP will allow ADNOC to process up to 420,000 b/d “of heavier and sourer grades of crude oil” at Ruwais.
** ENOC is currently undertaking a $1 billion expansion program to boost the Jebel Ali refinery’s capacity to 210,000 b/d and meet Euro 5 emissions standards. It signed a contract with France’s Technip in September 2016 for the engineering, procurement, and construction of a new 70,000 b/d condensate processing train.
** Saudi Arabia’s Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co. (Petro Rabigh) has awarded US-based Jacobs a contract to provide front-end engineering and design work, as well as project management consultancy, for a fuel oil upgrade project dubbed “Bottom of the Barrel.” The refinery is in the process of launching the phase 2 expansion, which adds 15 chemical units in the Petro Rabigh complex.
** Saudi Aramco plans to complete a $2.5 billion clean fuels project at its Ras Tanura refinery. Work on the clean fuels project at Ras Tanura started in 2018.
** Saudi Aramco has awarded a contract to KBR to provide technology, license, basic engineering design and equipment for its solvent de-asphalting for the Riyadh refinery residue upgrading and clean fuels project.
** US engineering company CB&I has been awarded a $95 million contract for the expansion and modernization of Sasref.
** Jordan Petroleum Refinery Co. has awarded a contract to US engineering company KBR for the design of a new residue hydro-processing unit as part of its expansion of the Zarqa refinery in Jordan.
New and revised entries
** Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) said it has dropped plans to build a new refinery in Ruwais. “As a result of our early feasibility and pre-FEED studies, we have concluded that at this time a new refinery is not economically attractive,” a company spokesperson said. ADNOC however said it is “fully committed to growth projects across our downstream and industrial portfolio, with a particular focus on gas and petrochemicals projects in Ruwais” adding that it sees “exciting opportunities for additional growth and expansion across these businesses, in line with a robust market outlook for gas and petrochemicals.” Originally the new refinery was planned to process 600,000 b/d. ADNOC operates the 817,000 b/d refinery in Ruwais.
** Construction of the new Al-Zour refinery in Kuwait is expected to be completed in the summer of 2022, according to a source close to the company. Construction is currently 98% completed. The new Al-Zour refinery in Kuwait started test runs in late 2020, S&P Global Platts has reported previously. The petrochemicals complex at Al-Zour was due for completion in 2023, with start-up expected in 2024. Separately, engineering and technology company Technip Energies has been awarded a “significant contract” for project engineering and management by Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company (KIPIC) for various potential projects at the Al-Zour complex, including the refinery, petrochemical complex, LNG import facilities. The contract is for the duration of six years. KIPIC is responsible for operating and managing the grassroot complex.
** China’s CNCEC will build a refinery and petrochemical complex in southern Iraq, the oil ministry in Baghdad said. The 300,000 b/d refinery will be built at the port of Fao on the Gulf, the ministry said in a statement. It didn’t disclose when the refinery will start or what will it cost. The refinery will be offered under the Build Operate Transfer or Build Own Operate Transfer investment model, S&P Global Platts has reported previously. The petrochemical facility could be integrated into the refinery at a later stage.
** Brooge Energy Ltd. said in July 2021 that it had signed an agreement to sublease land to Blue Ocean Energy FZE over 20 years, on which it will construct a 25,000 b/d modular refinery in the UAE’s Fujairah. Blue Ocean Energy will be responsible for building the refinery and financing the cost of construction, while Brooge will oversee operating the refinery and earning revenue from tolling fees on a take-or-pay basis. It will be focused on production of VLSFO. Brooge Energy has said previously it expects its 25,000 b/d refinery planned in the UAE’s Fujairah to be developed, constructed, installed, and operating by Q1 2022.
** The Iraqi oil minister has awarded a consortium to build a new 100,000 b/d refinery in the Dhi Qar province. The original project envisaged a 300,000 b/d plant, but this was later reduced to 150,000 b/d and subsequently to 100,000 b/d. The refinery is expected to be built with integrated production units such as a fluid catalytic cracking unit and a catalytic reforming unit and will be able to produce refined oil products that meet Euro 5 grade specifications, as per the statement.
** Iraq expects to gradually commission the greenfield Karbala refinery in Q1 2022. The refinery will include 35 units and 44 storage tanks. Plans are also underway to build a new 70,000 b/d refinery in Qayara, near the Qayara oil field in the north. Besides these projects, the oil ministry is seeking to encourage investors to finance “investment refineries,” in several locations, including Zubair and Fao in the south. Iraq is in talks with Eni to build a 300,000 b/d refinery near the Zubair oil field operated by the Italian company in the southern part of the country. The first phase of the project includes commissioning 150,000 b/d by 2025.
** Iraq aims to build a new refinery in Basrah province.
** Iraq’s oil ministry is seeking investors for a 100,000 b/d refinery in Wasit province, a 70,000 b/d refinery in Samawa province and a 70,000 b/d refinery in Kirkuk. It has also added a 70,000 b/d site at Diwaniya, in Qadisiya province, south of Baghdad, a new 150,000 b/d project to be built in the west Anbar province. Work has yet to start on the 150,000 b/d Missan refinery.
** Angola’s state-owned oil company, Sonangol, is working with Iraq’s ministry of oil to build a complex refinery in Mosul. The discussions between Sonangol and the ministry are for a refinery with a capacity of 100,000-150,000 b/d of complex products.
** Canada’s Pacific Future Energy has been awarded a contract to build a 150,000 b/d refinery outside the southern Iraqi town of Nassiriya.
** The Duqm refinery project in the south of Oman is now more than 80% complete. The refinery has been under construction since 2018 and is expected to start up in 2022.
** Canada Business Holdings’ 300,000 b/d ultra low sulfur fuel oil refinery project at Duqm, Oman, will process residue from OQ and Kuwait Petroleum International’s 230,000 b/d Duqm refinery project, CBH CEO Moses Solemon said. “The CBH refinery complements the Oman-Kuwait refinery. Therefore, we are in synergy and not in competition,” Solemon told S&P Global Platts. The company is targeting the end of 2023 for the refinery to process its first batch of products. The plant will use technology that reduces sulfur emissions.
** Saudi Arabia’s Jazan refinery is ramping up but is facing regular missile attacks launched from just across the border with Yemen. The 400,000 b/d refinery, also known by the alternate spelling Jizan, lies in the far southwest of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea, about 60 km from the Yemeni border. Aramco has yet to formally announce its commissioning. It had previously been expected to be commissioned at the end of 2019 and be ready for full operations in the second half of 2020. It was expected to start primary distillation units around February-March 2021 and proceed with secondary units later.
** Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya has started construction work on a 120,000 b/d plant to process gas condensate from the offshore South Pars gas field.
** Iran is aiming to start construction of the Anahita oil refinery in the western province of Kermanshah designed to process 150,000 b/d of crude oil.
** Kuwait may add a new refinery in the south of the country, which could add 130,000-160,000 b/d of capacity.