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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Middle East companies look at low-carbon projects

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will partner with Abu Dhabi-based chemical company Fertiglobe to develop its first blue ammonia facility with a capacity of 1 million mt/year, as the energy producer seeks to attract investments in low-carbon products, ADNOC said in a statement on June 22.

The facility will be located in the TA’ZIZ Industrial Chemicals Zone in the industrial hub of Ruwais and is slated for a startup in 2025, ADNOC said. Fertiglobe — a 58:42 partnership between Dutch chemicals company OCI and ADNOC — and the UAE energy producer will jointly conduct pre-front end engineering design and FEED activities, ADNOC said in the statement. The statement did not disclose Fertiglobe’s stake in the ammonia facility but said that a final decision on investment is expected in 2022.

“We believe hydrogen and its carrier fuels, such as ammonia, offer strong potential as low-carbon energy sources,” Sultan al-Jaber, ADNOC CEO, said in the statement. “As we continue to grow our manufacturing base in Ruwais, the UAE is well-placed to meet increasing global demand for this new fuel while strengthening our position as a world-scale chemicals and industrial hub and top destination for local and international investment.”

ADNOC has announced a number of hydrogen agreements since the end of 2020, when Abu Dhabi’s former Supreme Petroleum Council mandated the national oil producer to become a leader in the production of hydrogen.

The UAE and ADNOC are eyeing hydrogen exports mainly to Asian countries and companies. ADNOC has also signed hydrogen agreements with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry or METI and South Korea’s GS Energy.

The UAE’s Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi or KIZAD has also announced plans to build a $1 billion green ammonia facility in the free zone, targeting regional and international markets as OPEC’s third-largest oil producer boosts investments in clean energy.

Helios Industry, a privately owned special project vehicle company or SPV, will invest to develop the facility over several years in two phases to eventually produce 200,000 mt of green ammonia, KIZAD said in a May 25 statement. The green ammonia, which will be produced from 40,000 mt of hydrogen, will be powered by an 800 MW solar power plant. KIZAD, which is a unit of state-owned Abu Dhabi Ports, did not clarify the timeline over which the 200,000 mt of output will be produced.

** Meanwhile, oil product inventories at Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast fell as light distillate stocks plunged after soaring a week earlier. The total inventory was 22,627 million barrels as of June 21, down 3.6 % from a week earlier, according to Fujairah Oil Industry Zone data provided exclusively on June 23 to S&P Global Platts. Stocks of light distillates, including gasoline and naphtha, plummeted 23.7% to 5.427 million barrels, reversing the previous week’s trend. In the previous week, light distillates soared 42.9% to 7.115 million barrels, recovering from a near record low.

** Gasoline exports from Saudi Arabia jumped in April as tight supply prompted the country to channel more motor fuel cargoes externally. Saudi Arabia exported a total of 656,470 mt of gasoline in April, a jump of 59.29% from the previous month. This marked the highest volume of exports since November 2020, during which Saudi Arabia exported 667,060 mt of gasoline, the latest data by the Joint Organization Data Initiative showed.

The increase in exports from Saudi Arabia was mainly attributed to healthier export market, which had strengthened due to a combination of tight regional supply and a pick-up in demand.

“Some [Middle East] refineries were experiencing issues and run rates were not very high. This contributed to some of the supply tightness in the [gasoline] market,” one market source said. An example of a refinery outage in April was Oman’s 198,000 b/d Sohar refinery, which was reported to have experienced unexpected outage in late-March that impacted its gasoline production, Platts reported earlier.

he facility was only brought back online in late-April. “Demand was also getting better [in the Middle East]. More people were going out as the pandemic fears slowly subsided. In addition, with Ramadan coming up and international travel muted during the holiday. More people decided to travel domestically,” a second trader said.

New and ongoing maintenance
New and revised entries
** Iran’s Tehran refinery has started on June 9 maintenance on the 125,000 b/d crude distillation unit, the official oil ministry news agency Shana reported. The turnaround will involve the 125,000 b/d CDU 1, VDU, LPG and Merox units and is expected to last around 18 days. Earlier in June the refinery briefly halted production following an explosion and fire at two gasoil tanks.

** Operations at Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura refinery are back to normal, according to market sources on June 10. Sources reported earlier a technical glitch. The refinery has been experiencing issues since late May.

Existing entries
** KNPC has postponed planned major works at its Mina al-Ahmadi refinery to 2022, according to a source close to the matter. The works, involving CDUs, had been originally planned for this year. The refinery carried out partial works last year. As part of KNPC’s clean fuels upgrade project, Mina al-Ahmadi is being integrated into a single 800,000 b/d capacity complex along with the Mina Abdullah refinery.

** Bahrain’s Sitra is expected to start partial works around the third week of May, according to market sources. The works would involve a staggered shutdown of various units, including an FCC. The turnaround is expected to last five to six weeks. The gasoline platformer unit at the refinery has been offline for economic reasons over the past few months, traders said.

** Syria’s Homs is undergoing staggered maintenance, which will next involve the delayed coker unit 11 and a coal unit.

New and revised entries
** A number of new units have been launched at Iraq’s Daura refinery. The country’s oil minister Ihsan Ismaael inaugurated two isomerization units with a capacity of 10,000 b/d and hydrogen unit with a capacity of 4,000 b/d at the plant, in addition to a number of oil product tanks.

Existing entries
** Kuwait’s Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC) has completed all units that are part of the Clean Fuels Project upgrade at its Mina Abdullah refinery, the official Kuna news agency reported. The No 114 hydrocracking unit was the last of the 70 units under the upgrade project to be completed, “paving the way for full operation of the project,” the report said. 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.

** Iran’s Isfahan refinery commissioned on May 29 a quality upgrade project which aims to increase diesel production capacity and decrease sulfur viscosity, state news agency IRNA reported. Once operational, fuel oil production in Isfahan refinery will be zero. 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.

** Iraqi oil minister Ihsan Ismaael laid the foundation stone for the 55,000 b/d FCC unit at the state-run South Refineries Co. in the southern province of Basra, the minister said in an April 11 statement. The unit, being built by Japan’s JGC, will turn excess refinery residue into clean products such as 92 RON gasoline, gasoil, naphtha and fuel oil meeting Euro 5 standards. The minister also said that the ceremony included the launch of naphtha hydrotreater unit with a capacity of 31,000 b/d and a new 17,000 b/d Continuous Catalytic Reforming unit, which will be the first of its kind in Iraq and will allow the country to produce 100 RON gasoline. South Refineries Co. expects to expand this year following advanced construction work on a fourth refining unit with a processing capacity of 70,000 b/d that is expected to be finished in October. Another project is the 11,000 b/d isomerization unit which is due to be completed by July. Earlier Axens said its technologies will be used for an upgrade of Iraq’s Shuaiba refinery near Basrah. Those include a diesel hydrotreater, a VGO hydrotreater, an FCC unit and an oligomerization unit, which uses the Polynaphtha technology, S&P Global Platts has reported previously.

The upgrading project has reached an EPC phase carried out by JGC Corp. Japanese company JGC Holdings Corp. won a $3.8 billion contract to upgrade the Shuaiba refinery for Iraqi South Refineries Co.

JGC said the project consists of a fluid catalytic cracking unit, vacuum distillation unit and a diesel desulfurization unit. The project was 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. When completed, the new units will increase production of the Shuaiba refinery by 19,000 b/d of prime grade gasoline (92 RON and 95 RON) and 36,000 b/d of diesel fuel. Both products will meet international environmental standards.

** 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, Leigh Shaddick, Ecomar’s trading director, told Platts. Ecomar’s refinery will add an additional crude distillation unit, bringing it to 2 CDUs. Ecomar is looking for a long-term contract for supply of crude from regional producers of sour crude, including Iraq, the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, Shaddick said.

** The project to upgrade the quality of heavy products at Bandar Abbas was 40% complete. It started about two-and-half years ago and is due to become operational in September. Iran’s Bandar Abbas and Imam Khomeini refineries plan to build coke plants. 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 of mostly needle coke. Hashem Namvar, managing director of Bandar Abbas oil refinery, said the refinery has put on its agenda to produce coke in a bid to stop imports of the material used by industrial plants in the country. “For the implementation of upgrading quality of heavy products three years have been considered. Given the coordination and planning made, the executive operations with a $1.5 billion credit will start in the middle of the year 1400,” Namvar said, referring to the Iranian year that starts March 21. He said several units have been foreseen in this project to improve the quality of products 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% of weight percentage, Namvar said.

** According to Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, there is a program in the Ministry of Oil for the Homs Refinery to reach the highest possible production capacity. Arnous also said after maintenance, production at the Banias refinery has become “excellent” and there is plan to continue upgrades until “all distillation units return to their normal state.” ** Bahrain Petroleum Co., or 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 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, Platts reported previously.

** Iraq’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 gasoil, its deputy oil minister told Platts. The ministry plans to rehabilitate and develop the Baiji complex north of Baghdad, where three refineries were damaged during the war with the 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.

** 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, 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.

** 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%.

** 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, 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 engineering company 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 engineering company KBR for the design of a new residue hydro-processing unit as part of its expansion of the Zarqa refinery in Jordan.

Existing entries
** 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, it said May 27. The contract is for the duration of six years. KIPIC is responsible for operating and managing the grassroot complex.

The new Al-Zour refinery in Kuwait started test runs in late 2020, S&P Global Platts has reported previously. The Al-Zour refinery is expected to put more units in operation around Q4 and start producing a full range of products by the end of the year, according to a source close to the matter. The petrochemicals complex at Al-Zour was due for completion in 2023, with start-up expected in 2024.

** Iraq expects to gradually commission the greenfield Karbala refinery in Q1 2022, the oil ministry said May 2. 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.

** The Duqm refinery project in the south of Oman is now more than 80% complete, the Muscat Daily reported April 24. The project exceeded an 81% completion rate by the end of March, up from 79.9% in February, according to the report. The refinery is a 50-50 joint venture owned by Oman’s OQ and Kuwait Petroleum International (Q8), called Duqm Refinery and Petrochemical Industries Co. (OQ8). OQ8 did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 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 with a total 8.72 million barrels of crude discharged in March, according to commodity data company Kpler. The Jazan refinery is facing regular missile attacks launched from just across the border with Yemen, though sources say it remains unclear when the much delayed facility will enter full commercial operation. 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, with analysts citing weak market conditions and the persistent security threats from Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels as reasons for the more than year-long delay. The most recent attack came April 15 — at least the third targeting Jazan since the beginning of March — though Saudi officials have said their defense forces have intercepted every missile. 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 and proceed with secondary units start-up in April-May, according to market sources.

** UAE-based Brooge Energy expects its 25,000 b/d refinery planned in the UAE’s Fujairah to be developed, constructed, installed and operating by Q1 2022. Last November, the company was expecting launch in the second half of 2021. The refinery is planned to produce IMO 2020 compliant 0.5% sulfur content shipping fuel.

** Iraq is looking to build a 100,000 b/d refinery in the southern Dhi Qar province with a Chinese-led consortium, the country’s oil ministry said. The Southern Refineries Co. signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium consisting of Chinese companies Norinco Power China and CNEC along with a UAE-based private company. Hussam Wali, director general at the Southern Refineries Co., said the final contract was expected to be signed after the companies submit an economic model for the plant.

** 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 Revolutionary Guard.

** Iraq opened a downstream tender, hoping to attract engineering and construction companies 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.

** 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.
Source: Platts

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