REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Maintenance largely finished in Middle East
Most of the refinery maintenance work has been completed in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s middle distillate production in September fell 18% year on year — marking its lowest level in seven months — as domestic refiners reduced run rates amid sluggish demand, data from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative showed.
Middle distillate production totaled 4.21 million mt in September, down from a year ago when output was 5.11 million mt. Much of the decline was underpinned by lower jet fuel production at 357,000 mt, plunging 56% year on year to a near 10-year low. JODI historical data showed that jet fuel output was last lower in November 2010, at 304,000 mt. Meanwhile, co-distillate gasoil production in September also saw contraction, slipping 10% on the year to 3.86 million mt.
On a month-on-month basis, jet fuel and gasoil output was down by 39% and 11%, respectively.
Industry sources attributed the declines to refiners paring back runs on poor domestic and international sales, as a resurgence in COVID-19 infections rattled demand and saw countries around the globe reimpose movement restrictions, derailing the demand recovery for the middle distillate complex.
Saudi Arabia’s gasoil and jet fuel consumption tumbled 19.18% year on year to a four-month low in September to 2.23 million mt, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to take a toll on demand, latest data from the Joint Organization Data Initiative showed. Domestic consumption of the middle distillates slipped 3.8% month on month to the lowest level since June, according to JODI data.
Saudi Arabia’s jet fuel consumption led the downtrend, registering a 71.05% year-on-year dive on the back of curtailed air travel as border restrictions mostly remained in place, the data showed.
Compared to August, September jet fuel demand fell 9.84% to 110,000 mt, while gasoil consumption was 2.7% lower at 2.12 million mt.
New and ongoing maintenance
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**Uniper Energy has been running its Fujairah refinery at full capacity since Nov. 9 after maintenance was completed, the company said Nov. 15. Uniper operates two 40,000 b/d distillation units in Fujairah, with the capacity to produce about 210,000 mt a month of IMO-compliant bunker fuel. Both units were having scheduled maintenance in October.
**Bahrain’s Sitra is fully back online after maintenance was completed, according to market sources. One CDU and other units, including a platformer, were offline, according to traders. Work started around Oct. 7 and was due to be completed in November. The refinery has been running at around 65%-70% of capacity as a result of the work.
**Syria’s Homs refinery is currently undergoing works, according to Syrian TV report. The works will not impact production of refined products. Following the turnaround, the atmospheric distillation unit 10 will be able to operate at its full capacity of 1 million mt/yr following an upgrade and installation of new equipment which will improve the quality of oil products.
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**Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) is aiming to phase out all fuel oil production by 2025 and focus on diesel and jet fuel, according to the company’s chairman Dawood Nassif. A $6 billion upgrade and modernization project of BAPCO’s flagship Sitra refinery is now 60% complete, Nassif said. The program will also see the refinery’s capacity expand to 380,000 b/d from 267,000 b/d. BAPCO will announce two further investments in 2021, which will see it target zero fuel oil, and focus on jet fuel and diesel, and also see its current naphtha production upgraded to petrochemicals, Nassif said. “We’re going to make jet fuel for delivery in 2023, which we believe will be smack on the recovery,” Nassif said. In the summer, Bapco said that 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, S&P Global Platts reported previously.
**Iran’s Isfahan oil refinery has roughly doubled its high-quality gasoil production and aims to reach Euro 5 emission specifications for the total production in 2021. The refinery’s gasoil purification unit will go on stream next year to process 20 million l/d of gasoil into high-quality fuel. Separately, the desulfurization unit at Iran’s Isfahan will go on stream in four years, the refinery managing director Morteza Ebrahimi said in August, according to state news agency IRNA. “This refinery will have all its products produced matching Euro 4 and Euro 5 standards by 2025,” Ebrahimi said.
**Syria’s Homs refinery is currently undergoing works, according to Syrian TV report. The works will not impact production of refined products. Following the turnaround, the atmospheric distillation unit 10 will be able to operate at its full capacity of 1 million mt/year following an upgrade and installation of new equipment which will improve the quality of oil products.
**Kuwait National Petroleum Co., or KNPC, has now started up all the six high-pressure Clean Fuels Project boilers at its Mina Abdullah refinery. In June, the company completed the project at its Mina Al-Ahmadi Refinery. Kuwait has three operational domestic refineries with a combined capacity of 936,000 b/d. As part of KNPC’s clean fuels project, the old processing facilities at Shuaiba refinery (200,000 bbl/d) will be retired. Upon completion Mina al-Ahmadi will have 364,000 b/d capacity and with adding Mina Abdullah the whole refinery will have 800,000 b/d capacity. Work on the clean fuels project has been going on since 2014. It will see Mina al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries integrated into a single complex.
**Iraqi’s oil minister Ihsan Ismaeel 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 is forging ahead with plans to boost its refining capacity by about a third by the first quarter of 2022 to reduce dependence on imports of gasoline and gas oil, deputy oil minister told S&P Global Platts. The ministry plans to rehabilitate and develop the Baiji complex north of Baghdad, where three refineries were damaged during the war with the self-styled Islamic State group, Hamed al-Zobai said. Currently one refinery is operating at 70,000 b/d, a second 70,000 b/d unit will come online by the year-end and a third 140,000 b/d facility should be operational in the next two years. 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.
**Japan’s JGC Holdings Corporation has announced that it has officially received the letter of award for upgrading Iraq’s Shuaiba refinery near Basrah in Southern Iraq, with the scheduled completion date slated for 2025. The project aims to convert the excess fuel oil produced by the existing refinery units, which is currently 45% of the yield, to much light products. The upgrading work will, among other things, entail the development of a 34,000 b/d fluid catalytic cracking unit, 55,000 b/d vacuum distillation unit and a 40,000 b/d diesel desulfurization unit. The capacity of Shuaiba is due to be expanded to 280,000 b/d. The installation and construction of the fourth CDU with 70,000 b/d capacity, the LPG unit, the water treatment unit and an additional boiler, which collectively constitute the current expansion project, was at an advanced stage when the work was suspended in March due to the pandemic lockdown.
**Iraq’s oil ministry Sept. 6 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.
**Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. reported Aug. 17 “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.
**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.
**Phase 2 of the upgrade at Iran’s Abadan refinery, which includes modernizing units to produce Euro 4 and Euro 5 compliant products, 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. It ultimately expects, following the four-phase upgrade program, to reduce fuel oil output by 40%.
**Iran’s Bandar Abbas and Imam Khomeini refineries will build coke plants, according to local media reports. The units, which will use fuel oil as feedstock, will take three years to complete and will produce high value products. They will produce around 700,000 mt/year, mostly of needle coke.
**Following a major upgrade project, Iran’s Tabriz refinery expects to reduce its fuel oil production. The refinery currently produces 4 million liters a day (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, or mazut, 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. “With the implementation of this project, Kermanshah oil refining capacity will reach 40,000 b/d and quality of its products will be upgraded to Euro 5,” the head of the refinery’s board of directors, Sohrab Barandishan, said. 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. The National Development Fund is financing one of the plants.
**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., or 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 project aims to convert residue from crude distillation. 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 in the first quarter of 2021. Work on the clean fuels project at Ras Tanura, which started in 2018, is 62% complete. The clean fuels project will produce lower sulfur diesel with low benzene content.
**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. The solvent de-asphalter technology assists refiners in complying with new International Maritime Organization fuel regulations in 2020, KBR said.
**US engineer CB&I has been awarded a $95 million contract for the expansion and modernization of Sasref.
**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.
**Jordan Petroleum Refinery Co. has awarded a contract to US engineer KBR for the design of a new residue hydro-processing unit as part of its expansion of the Zarqa refinery in Jordan.
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**Iraq plans to invite international companies to compete to build a 300,000 b/d refinery in the south of the country, the oil minister said Nov. 18. The refinery, to be built in Fao in the Basra Governorate, will be offered under the Build Operate Transfer or Build Own Operate Transfer investment model, Ihsan Ismaael said in a statement. A petrochemical facility could be integrated into the refinery at a later stage, he added.
**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. The construction is scheduled to finish in two years, according to the commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, Saeed Mohammad, speaking on state television. Khatam al-Anbiya’s headquarters is the construction wing of the country’s elite Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC).
**Iraq is forging ahead with plans to boost its refining capacity. A new 140,000 b/d refinery in Karbala is expected to come online in the first quarter of 2022. 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 opened a downstream tender, hoping to attract engineering and construction companies to build a new refinery in Basra 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.
**Fluor Corporation said that its joint venture with Daewoo Engineering & Construction and Hyundai Heavy Industries has successfully started up two boilers which began generating steam at the new Al-Zour refinery. Upon completion, the 615,000 b/d refinery is expected to “be one of the largest refineries in the world,” Fluor said. The refinery has been targeted for completion in 2020. The petrochemicals complex at Al-Zour is due for completion in 2023, with start-up expected in 2024.
**Saudi Aramco expects to begin processing crude at its Jazan refinery by Q1 2021, CEO Amin Nasser said Aug. 10. The newly constructed refinery, also spelled Jizan, will start with crude runs of 200,000 b/d before ramping up to 400,000 b/d, Nasser said. 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. The refinery, in the far south of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea about 60 km (37 miles) from the Yemeni border, has been targeted in several missile attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, though Saudi officials say they have intercepted each attempted strike.
**UAE-based Brooge Energy said it had entered a refinery agreement with its Phase I customer to use best efforts to finalize the technical and design feasibility studies for its Fujairah refinery to be located on Phase I and II land and operated by Brooge Energy. The refinery was expected to be operational in Q3 2021 and produce low sulfur fuel oil in compliance with IMO 2020 requirements. Phase I started in January 2018.
**The Duqm refinery project in Oman was expected to start up in 2022. Construction of the plant, located in the special economic zone in Duqm, began in June 2018.
**Construction of the Anahita Oil Refinery in the western province of Kermanshah will start by the private sector in the current Iranian year that started March 20, the provincial governor Houshang Bazvand was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA. According to Shana, the Anahita refinery has been designed to process 150,000 b/d of crude oil.
**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.
**Kuwait may add a new refinery in the south of the country, which could add 130,000-160,000 b/d of capacity.
**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.
**Houston-based GTC Technology has agreed to a deal to provide a gasoline production unit to Iraq’s Al-Barham Group, which plans to build a refining complex in the northern city of Kirkuk.