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Refinery news roundup: New refinery, hydrogen projects in Africa

Angola’s new refinery project in Lobito is progressing, while South Sudan’s Bentiu is gearing to reach full capacity.

Meanwhile, Italy’s Eni has signed an agreement to develop renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production in Egypt with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS).

Eni, EEHC and EGAS are to assess the technical and commercial feasibility of renewable and conventional hydrogen production with carbon capture and storage in the North African country, using depleted gas fields to store CO2. They will investigate potential local demand for hydrogen, as well as export opportunities.

The announcement came shortly after Eni’s General Manager for Natural Resources, Alessandro Puliti, met the CEO of Algerian state-owned Sonatrach, Toufik Hakkar, in Algiers to accelerate their collaboration in the hydrogen sector.

The two companies outlined a road map to assess a pilot project for producing hydrogen generated from wind and solar powered electrolysis of water. The agreement builds on a memorandum of understanding the companies signed in March to cooperate on hydrogen production.

Near-term maintenance

New and revised entries

** Ghana’s sole oil refinery Tema remains offline and the plant is unlikely to restart for a few more months due to a lack of crude and feedstock, a source close to the matter said. The plant has only operated for about two months in 2021 and repair works are being carried out. It had been expected to come back online by the end of June. The plant has been hit by several issues over the past few years, experiencing intermittent outages at its crude distillation unit and FCC unit. The CDU currently only has one furnace, which means the refinery can only operate around 30,000 b/d capacity.

** Zambia’s Indeni refinery is likely to stay offline till at least the end- of August, when the country will hold presidential elections, sources close to the matter said. The refinery’s operations have been suspended since late December. The government wanted to overhaul the ageing refinery, but the project has been on hold until the elections.

Existing entries

** South Africa’s Engen said it will be proceeding with the conversion of its Durban refinery into a terminal. The refinery has been shut since a fire and explosion on Dec. 4. The refinery-terminal conversion was expected to be commissioned in Q3 2023.

** Libya’s Ras Lanuf remains offline without any timeline for its restart. The refinery was shut in 2013.

** South Africa’s Astron Energy Cape Town refinery is expecting to restart “at some point” in 2022, the company said. The refinery has been halted since an incident in July 2020 involving a fire.

** The refinery in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, will go into turnaround in 2021, but dates have not been finalized.

** Cameroon’s Limbe refinery, which suffered a fire at the end of May 2019, remains offline. Local media reported the restart was not expected until 2021.

Upgrades

New and revised entries

** Italy’s Kinetics Technology has been awarded a contract to build a naphtha hydrotreater and platformer at Angola’s sole oil refinery in Luanda. Sonangol is also in the process of building a fluid catalytic cracker along with Italy’s Eni at Luanda to reduce its dependence on gasoline imports.

Existing entries

** KBR has been awarded a contract from South Africa’s Sapref for its FCC regenerator project. The project will allow the refinery “to improve the reliability and integrity of the FCC unit by optimizing its catalyst and air distribution,” KBR said in a statement.

** Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., or NNPC, has signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with Italy’s Maire Tecnimont for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery, it said April 2021. NNPC hopes to raise the plant’s utilization rate to 90% of its nameplate 210,000 b/d capacity. The repairs will be carried out in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months respectively. Nigeria’s refineries, which include the northern Kaduna and the Warri plants, have been shut for repairs since early 2019 and NNPC says it expects them to operate at around 90% of capacity when the repairs are completed and they resume production by 2023. But this timeline could be changed as 2020 saw numerous delays, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

** State-run Indeni Oil Refinery, Zambia’s only refinery, has plans to double its capacity to 2.2 million mt/yr once rehabilitation works are completed. This will be up from the current capacity of 1.1 million mt/year.

** Kenya is considering converting its shuttered Mombasa refinery to a biofuel plant using technology provided by Italy’s Eni. The Mombasa refinery, Eastern Africa’s sole refinery, was shut down in 2013. Kenya is deciding upon a location for a new refinery in either Lamu or Mombasa.

** TechnipFMC said it has “successfully completed the remaining conditions to enable work to commence” on the EPC contract for the engineering, procurement, and construction of a new hydrocracker at Egypt’s Assiut refinery. The contract includes process units such as vacuum distillation, delayed coker, distillate hydrotreater and a hydrogen production facility. It also includes the installation of 880,000 mt/year continuous catalytic reforming and isomerization complex, a 400,000 mt/year vapor recovery unit and 2.3 million mt/year hydrocracker.

** The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has reviewed a provision of up to $250 million sovereign loan to the Alexandria Petroleum Company to finance resources and energy efficiency investments and other modernization investments. The project includes the installation of a new vapor recovery unit, continuous emissions monitoring system and a burner management system. An expansion program at Egypt’s Middle East Oil Refinery near Alexandria is on track for 2022, which will push capacity to 160,000 b/d.

** The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD, approved a $50 million loan for an upgrade of Egypt’s Suez refinery aimed at introducing cleaner fuel and reducing CO2 emissions.

** Cote d’Ivoire’s SIR has secured a Eur577 million ($657 million) debt financing deal from Africa Finance Corporation, or AFC, which will help fund the upgrade of the refinery.

** Senegal’s Dakar refinery is planning to increase capacity to 1.5 million mt/year.

Launches

New and revised entries

** South Sudan’s Bentiu refinery near Juba in Unity state, which started operations in March, is preparing to raise throughput and start supplying the 10 regional states and countries in the region with refined oil products, according to South Sudan’s Minister of Petroleum Puot Kang Chol. Bentiu’s refinery has the capacity to process up to 10,000 barrels/day but currently it is operating at a capacity of 3,000 b/d. Bentiu had been offline since 2014 after suffering damage in clashes connected to the country’s civil war. Repair and upgrading works had been due to finish by the end of 2019 but did not meet this deadline and then travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to evacuation of engineers at the site in early 2020, causing further delays.

** South Sudan is planning to build four more refineries by the end of this decade to increase its refining potential. Trinity Energy was in advanced preparations to start building a 40,000 b/d refinery near the Palouch oil fields in the Upper Nile. Construction was planned to start in the first quarter of 2019, but COVID-19 and electricity power outages delayed it. One of the refineries is set to be based in Tharjiath.

** The Angolan government has launched a tender process for companies interesting in investing in the country’s biggest refinery project in Lobito in southern Angola. In a statement released on July 10, 2021, Sonangol said it had already carried about economic feasibility studies, the dredging of Lobito bay, and other technical work that “will allow potential partners to act more effectively.” The project was initially canceled in 2016 only to be revived a few years later. Sonangol is now banking on this refinery coming online in 2025.

Existing entries

** Algeria’s Sonatrach expects the Hassi Messaoud refinery to start operations in 2024. Construction was launched at the beginning of 2020 and the refinery’s start-up has been expected for H2 2024. Sonatrach has contracted with Spanish and South Korean consortium Technicas Reunidas-Samsung Engineering to build the new refinery. Hassi Messaoud, Biskra and Tiaret had been part of the government’s 2021-24 oil sector plan, with each refinery intended to have a 5 million mt/year capacity. However, investment decisions on the refinery projects in Biskra and Tiaret would not be made before 2025.

** State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. is in talks with Dangote Industries to acquire a 20% stake in the 650,000 b/d Dangote oil refinery. The refinery, located on the outskirts of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, is expected to start commissioning early 2022. When finished, the plant will be Africa’s largest refinery. However, the start-up date for has repeatedly been delayed, with the company first announcing the project in 2013, and some Nigeria-based industry sources had told S&P Global Platts that they think it may struggle to come on stream before late 2022 or early 2023, with delays caused by COVID-19 slowing the project work.

** KBR has been awarded a front-end engineering design, or FEED, for Bua Group’s new, modern refinery facility in Nigeria. Bua Group plans to build a 200,000 b/d integrated refinery and petrochemical plant in Akwa Ibom, according to its website. The plant aims to produce Euro 5 fuels and polypropylene for the domestic and regional markets.

** Three modular facilities in Nigeria with a combined capacity of 26,000 b/d have “completed construction work and are ready for commissioning”, the country’s industry regulator the Department of Petroleum Resources, or DPR, said April 2021. The three modular refineries, currently in the completion stage, are the 6,000 b/d plant in Ikpoba, Edo State, the 10,000 b/d plant in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and the 10,000 b/d modular refinery Ibigwe, in Imo State.

** Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., or NNPC, is close to taking FID with some investors to build a 50,000 b/d condensate refinery. NNPC signed the front-end engineering design for the construction of the plant — which will be in the Niger Delta — with engineering firm KBR. NNPC first announced in August 2018 plans to build a condensate refinery with capacity to refine 200,000 b/d of the condensate oil produced by the country.

** Nigeria commissioned in 2020 the country’s first modular oil refinery, built in Imo state in the restive Niger Delta region. The commissioning involves the first phase of the refinery with a capacity to refine 5,000 b/d of crude. It would eventually raise capacity to 45,000 b/d. Waltersmith had previously said the plant would eventually try to increase capacity to 50,000 b/d in various phases.

** Nigeria has reached an agreement with neighbor Niger to build an oil refinery in a border town between Niger and Katsina state in northern Nigeria.

** Angola’s oil ministry has named the Quantem Consortium, led by US company Quantem, as the winner of the tender to build, open and operate the planned 100,000 b/d Soyo refinery. The refinery was expected to be completed in about three to four years. The selected company or joint venture will finance the construction of the plant on a build-operate-transfer basis. The new plant, along with ones under consideration in Lobito in Benguela province and in Cabinda, is part of the government’s plan to transform its downstream sector. That also involves refurbishing the refinery in Luanda.

** Gemcorp and Sonangol have made the final investment decision (FID) for the construction of a full conversion Cabinda refinery in Angola on the Malembo plain. Gemcorp signed a contract with state-owned Sonangol to build the 60,000 b/d capacity refinery. Phase 1 is expected to include a 30,000 b/d CDU with a desalter, kerosene treatment and ancillary infrastructures including a conventional buoy mooring system, pipelines, and storage facility for over 1.2 million barrels. It is due to be commissioned in Q1-Q2 2022. Phase 2 and 3 will upgrade the plant to a full conversion refinery with additional 30,000 b/d capacity, a new catalytic reformer, hydrotreater and catalytic cracking unit.

** The Ministry of Hydrocarbons of Guinea has signed a memorandum of understanding with logistics firm United Mining Supply to set up an oil refinery. UMS has said it will carry out a feasibility study to construct a refinery in Moribayah.

** Africa Finance Corporation, or AFC, has signed an agreement with Brahms Oil Refineries Ltd. to co-develop a refinery and storage terminal in Guinea. AFC will work on the development and subsequent financing of a petroleum storage and associated refinery project in Kamsar, Guinea. This will include a 12,000 b/d modular refinery, a 76,000 cu m crude oil storage terminal, a 114,200 cu m storage terminal for refined products, and ancillary transportation infrastructure. Guinea currently has no refineries.

** The construction of Republic of Congo’s Atlantic Petrochemical Refinery project has begun. The government signed a deal with China’s Beijing Fortune Dingsheng Investment Co. Ltd., or BFDI, to construct a 2.5 million mt/year refinery in the port city of Pointe Noire. The Chinese company is also keen on launching a petrochemical complex in the country. The African oil producer currently has only one refinery, the 27,000 b/d CORAF plant, which is also located in Pointe Noire.

** The Cameroon government is looking to build a new refinery in the southern port city of Kribi with a capacity of 4 million mt/year after operations at its sole refinery in Limbe were crippled due to a major fire in 2019. Kribi has been chosen as the site as it is already home to the country’s main crude export terminal.

** Uganda expects its new Albertine Graben refinery to be launched in 2024 but in the meantime is exploring options on how to fund its 40% stake in the facility. The Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium, led by Italy’s Saipem, owns the remaining 60% in the refinery. A final investment decision for the new plant is expected in 2022. The FID was initially planned for 2019, while the completion of the refinery was expected in 2023.

** Equatorial Guinea’s 5,000 b/d modular oil refinery project at Punta Europa is expected to receive an FID in Q1 2022. The government is hoping to build two modular refineries in the country, one at the Punta Europa complex on Bioko Island, and the other at Cogo on the mainland.

** Benin is looking to launch the construction of a new refinery. A committee will look at the feasibility studies for the project and will also analyze the market prospects until 2030. The project will be developed as a public-private partnership.

** Russian state development bank VEB has signed investment cooperation deals with African organizations on financing a refinery in Morocco. The memorandum on the oil refinery in Morocco was signed with the Russian Export Group and Morocco’s MYA Energy, part of the Marita Group. The refinery has a planned capacity of up to 5 million mt/year. Morocco’s sole refiner Samir was forced to halt processing at the Mohammedia plant in 2015 after crude oil deliveries were delayed due to financial problems. Since then attempts to resume operations or find an investor have been unsuccessful.

** A consortium of Russian investors is planning a $4 billion project for a new refinery in Northern Zambia at the site of the country’s aging state-owned Indeni plant.

** Russian state-owned exploration company Rosgeologia is considering building the Red Sea Coast refinery in Port Sudan, which would supply landlocked countries in Africa. Sudan had begun discussions to develop a 200,000 b/d refinery on its Red Sea coast. The project’s timeline has not yet been disclosed.

The only refinery currently operating in the country is the Khartoum, after the Port Sudan refinery closed in 2013 and was decommissioned.

** Ghana’s ministry of energy is in the process of submitting a proposal to build a new refinery in Tema. It will replace the 45,000 b/d Tema Oil Refinery. Separately, the government has set its sights on building a 150,000 b/d refinery in Takoradi.
Source: Platts

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