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Refinery news roundup: News on launches remain in focus in Middle East

News about launches remain in focus in Middle East as the Jazan refinery in Saudi Arabia is about to start.

Syria’s Ministry of Oil announced that all production sections in the Banias refinery have returned to work after an explosion in a reservoir on November 7, the country’s SANA news agency reported. The explosion occurred during maintenance operations at one of the production units in the refinery and led to the death of a worker and the injury of five others.The ministry said in a statement that the workers and technicians in the Banias refinery have now completed all repairs so that all production departments can return to work and gasoline production begins after removing all the effects of the explosion.


–Dubai’s Emirates National Oil Co, or ENOC, is carrying out work on a reformer unit, trading sources said.

There have been partial works at the plant since September with some expected to continue into the fourth quarter.

ENOC is currently undertaking a $1-billion expansion program to boost the refinery’s capacity by 50% 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 Aramco’s SASREF refinery will be undergoing maintenance until mid-November, the company’s senior vice president for downstream Abdulaziz al-Judaimi told reporters. An incident that occurred at SASREF during maintenance in mid-October resulted in two fatalities and two casualties, the refinery said at the time. The incident happened on the evening of October 13, while contractors were working on a unit “during turnaround activities.” Trading sources said the incident happened during a gas leak that caused an explosion. In September, Saudi Aramco completed the acquisition of Shell’s 50% stake in SASREF, located in Jubail Industrial City.

–Saudi Aramco’s biggest refinery in Saudi Arabia, the 550,000 b/d Ras Tanura facility, will carry out a partial shutdown in 2020 to help prepare for a clean fuels project due to be completed by 2021, a company executive said. Ras Tanura will carry out maintenance in March 2020 for around 35 days, Abdullah Bagar, operations manager at Ras Tanura told reporters. The clean fuels project will produce lower sulfur diesel with low benzene content.

–Tehran refinery has started an overhaul to increase safety of refining units, basic repair of atmospheric distillation units, the oil ministry news service Shana reported. The northern part of the refinery was completely shut for the work, the report said. The overhaul started mid-October and will last 31 working days. There will be work to change a furnace wall to fiber ceramic from cement to reduce heat waste, gas usage and increase the furnace’s efficiency as part of the program. New pumps and fans will be installed. All the northern and some southern units will be taken out of service for eight days from October 18 to remove connection problems between the units and make an adjustment of the flare route. Tehran refinery carries out some maintenance work every year. Its catalyst units undergo basic maintenance every three years and the cycle for non-catalyst units is every four years.

–Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s Ruwais refinery will have scheduled maintenance in the first quarter of 2020, a market source told S&P Global Platts. The turnaround will be for 40 days for the west complex and another 35 days for the east complex, but the condensate part will keep on running, the source said.

–Qatar Petroleum plans to conduct maintenance at the No. 1 condensate splitter at its Laffan Refinery 2 complex throughout November, market sources said.

–Germany’s Uniper said it has “identified even more improvements than previously expected” for its Fujairah facility, which will be implemented in phases over 2019-20. The first of the phases started in August and was “expected to contribute to our production gains and operating flexibility objectives for IMO 2020”. It had previously said it planned to undertake a debottlenecking program at its ultra low sulfur fuel oil production facility in Fujairah in August. Uniper has two 40,000 b/d distillation columns in Fujairah that have been designed to process low sulfur crude oils to produce ULSFO.

–Satorp has awarded a contract to KBR to debottleneck Train 2 of its 440,000 b/d refinery in Jubail on Saudi Arabia’s Persian Gulf coast, KBR said. The debottlenecking project was expected to increase the refinery’s throughput by 15% once completed in August 2020. The project will be delivered “to support the upcoming major refinery turnaround in 2020”, KBR said. After the debottlenecking project, the refinery’s capacity will increase to 460,000 b/d.

–Iran’s Imam Khomeini or Shazand refinery will carry out works on 10 units this Iranian year, which started March 21.

–Iran’s Lavan refinery will carry out works on downstream units, including HDS, isomerization and hydrotreater, in February 2020.

–Iran’s Isfahan planned maintenance from late September to late November.



–Saudi Arabia’s Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co., or Petro Rabigh, has successfully passed a reliability test of the phase 2 expansion, according to a local media report citing CNBC Arabia. The test will enable the integration between phases 1 and 2, the report said, adding that phase 2 adds 15 chemical units in the Petro Rabigh complex. Petro Rabigh — a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo producing 2.4 million mt/year of chemicals on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast — delayed the startup of its expansion complex to add 2.6 million mt/year of petrochemical production capacity. Separately, US-based Jacobs has been awarded earlier in 2019 a contract by Saudi Arabia’s Petro Rabigh 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 into more profitable projects, Jacobs said.

–Saudi Aramco plans to complete a $2.5 billion clean fuels projects at its Ras Tanura refinery in the first quarter of 2021, the facility’s general manager said. Work on the clean fuels project at Ras Tanura, which started in 2018, is 62% complete, Fawwaz Nawwab told reporters at the refinery. The clean fuels project aims to raise the efficiency of Saudi Arabia’s largest and oldest refinery, to meet higher environmental standards, reduce the sulfur content of its products and diversify output. The clean fuels project will produce lower sulfur diesel with low benzene content.

–Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will look to bring in partners for its new refinery project in the industrial hub of Ruwais as part of plans to boost refining capacity to 1.5 million b/d by 2026. ADNOC Refining currently has a processing capacity of crude and condensate exceeding 922,000 b/d. ADNOC awarded Scotland-based Wood an $8 million contract to deliver pre-front end engineering and design (pre-feed) for the new refinery project in Ruwais, which is expected to have a capacity of 600,000 b/d. The new refinery will be designed to have full conversion and will be integrated with petrochemical projects planned in Ruwais. ADNOC also awarded Austria’s OMV and Italy’s Eni 15% and 20% stakes respectively in ADNOC Refining as part of plans to boost its downstream business. The remaining stake is with ADNOC. ADNOC has shortlisted a number of companies and will select one of them as technology licensor in the second quarter of next year.

–KNPC launched a new diesel production unit U-216 at its Mina Abdullah refinery. The unit can produce around 73,000 b/d of 10 ppm diesel. The launch is part of the Clean Fuels refinery project. Work on the estimated $16 billion project has been going on since 2014. It will see the 466,000 b/d Mina al-Ahmadi and 270,000 b/d Mina Abdullah refineries integrated into a single complex, with new units added that will increase total capacity to 800,000 b/d and improve the quality of output.

–Iraq has agreed a $1 billion soft loan with Japan to fund a landmark fluid catalytic cracking complex at the Basra refinery, the country’s largest. The Japan International Cooperation Agency announced the loan after its signing on Sunday with Iraq’s finance minister in Baghdad. “The new plant is expected to process 55,000 barrels per stream day of residue crude (RC) from the crude distillation unit in the existing Basra refinery,” JICA said. The complex is targeting a 2024 completion date. Separately, throughput at Shuaiba is set to rise to 280,000 b/d by 2020 after the completion of a delayed fourth unit by September, the refinery’s chief said.

–The Isfahan refinery in central Iran is building a new distillation unit. The project has taken around three years with the commissioning — currently under way — lasting around six months. Once the diesel unit becomes operational, the refinery will reduce its throughput to 360,000 b/d. The refinery has been running at 375,000 b/d for years, well above its nameplate capacity of 200,000 b/d. Separately, an Iranian private contractor signed a Eur600 million ($670 million) contract with the Isfahan refinery to build a fuel oil processing unit, the oil ministry news service reported.

–The Kermanshah oil refinery in the west of Iran plans to raise capacity by 15,000 b/d and upgrade its products output, oil ministry news service Shana reported. “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, was quoted as saying. No target date for the start or completion of the work — which has been under consideration for at least four years — was given.

–Iran’s Persian Gulf Star condensate refinery plans to raise its capacity by 140,000 b/d, state television news agency iribnews reported. “By the end of the current [Iranian] year, the capacity of the refinery will reach 540,000 b/d which is considered a record,” refinery managing director Mohammad-Ali Dadvar was quoted as saying. “At the moment, 400,000 b/d of gas condensate from the South Pars gas field is being processed in the Persian Gulf Star,”

he said. “With the measures taken so far, this capacity will reach 450,000 b/d by the end of the [Iranian] month of Shahrivar, and when the fourth phase becomes operational, this volume will reach 540,000 b/d,” he said. Shahrivar ends September 22. “In phase 4, we will optimize capacity and remove production bottlenecks. And this job will be carried out by an investment of less than 10% of the costs of building phase 1,” Dadvar said.

–Saudi Aramco has awarded a contract to KBR to provide technology, license, basic engineering design and equipment for its solvent deasphalting for the Riyadh refinery residue upgrading and clean fuels project. The solvent deasphalter technology assists refiners in complying with new International Maritime Organization fuel regulations in 2020, KBR said.

–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, production of which amounts to around 1.2 million l/d. Around 2022, the refinery is expected to reduce fuel oil, or mazut, production from around 25% of product output to below 5%. The refinery, whose nameplate capacity is 115,000 b/d, does not plan any capacity expansion but has focused on unit upgrades.

–Satorp has awarded a contract to KBR to debottleneck Train 2 in Jubail, KBR said. The debottlenecking project is expected to increase the original refinery’s throughput by 15% once completed in August 2020. The project will be delivered “to support the upcoming major refinery turnaround in 2020”, KBR said. The refinery’s capacity was increased by 10% in 2018, to 440,000 b/d, after major maintenance on one of its distillation units. Upon the completion of the debottlenecking project, the refinery’s capacity will be increased to 460,000 b/d. A major project for a new petrochemical complex at the site is moving to the FEED stage. The $5 billion project, first announced in April 2018, will be next to the Satorp refinery in Jubail and is due to start up in 2024. The project will maximize the synergy between the refinery and the petrochemical complex.

–Iran’s Abadan, with 400,000 b/d nameplate capacity, aims to stabilize its throughput at 360,000 b/d. It is building a 210,000 b/d distillation unit as part of its upgrade project, which started in 2012 and is scheduled to be finished in 2021. It expects — following the upgrades that consist of four stages — to reduce its fuel oil output by 40%. It is also working on increasing its gasoline production to 20 million l/d from 12 million l/d. The project has a 45-month timetable and construction has been going on for 22 months. The main equipment will arrive at the site by March.

–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.

–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.

–Bahrain Petroleum Co. has awarded a $4.2 billion contract for the expansion and modernization of the Sitra refinery, slated for completion in 2022, taking total capacity to 360,000 b/d.

–US engineer CB&I has been awarded a $95 million contract for the expansion and modernization of the 305,000 b/d Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery, or Sasref, in Jubail.



–Saudi Aramco’s Jazan refinery on the Red Sea is expected to begin operations at the end of 2019 and is expected to be ready for full operations in the second half of 2020. Jazan has a capacity of 400,000 b/d, Saudi Aramco said in its IPO prospectus published recently. Platts has previously reported that the refinery was on track to start up by the end of this year and reach full capacity of 400,000 b/d by 2021. In late October it received its first crude cargo, according to tanker-tracking services. The refinery and petrochemical complex, expected to reach full capacity of 400,000 b/d by 2021, was on track to start up by the end of this year, Saudi Aramco’s Senior Vice President for Downstream Abdulaziz al-Judaimi said in October. At full capacity, Jazan will produce 209,900 b/d of ultra low sulfur diesel, 71,400 b/d of 91 RON and 95 RON gasoline, 48,500 b/d of high sulfur fuel oil and 6,700 b/d of LPG, according to an Aramco corporate presentation at an industry conference in June.


–UAE-based Brooge Petroleum & Gas Investment Co. is on track to start up the first 24,000 b/d phase of its greenfield refinery in Fujairah by the end of the first quarter of 2020, its CEO said. The project is part of a larger 250,000 b/d refinery complex the company plans to build in the fast-growing storage hub of Fujairah, CEO Nico Paardenkooper said. BPGIC’s refinery will be the third in Fujairah, where Vitol and Uniper have processing facilities. The refinery is a joint venture between BPGIC and Sahara Energy Resources. BPGIC is handling the building and operation the facility, while Sahara will handle the crude sourcing, product trading and offtake agreements.

–Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company has awarded Honeywell a contract to expand the Al-Zour refinery, Honeywell UOP said. “The newly designed complex will increase the plant’s output capacity of fuels and petrochemicals,” it said. Honeywell UOP will revise the configuration and capacity of the gasoline production facilities and will also supply licenses and design services and key equipment “to produce clean-burning fuels, paraxylene, propylene and other petrochemicals.” The gasoline section will include a 98,000 b/d RFCC complex, a UOP Selectfining unit for the production of low sulfur gasoline components as well as two UOP Merox for treating propane for propylene production and isobutane for clean-fuels blending components. The CCR platformer and naphtha hydrotreater have been expanded “to meet the needs of the larger gasoline and aromatics complexes.” The petrochemical section will include an aromatics complex with capacity to produce 1.4 million mt/year paraxylene. The 615,000 b/d refinery is targeted for completion by 2020. Local media reported in March the refinery was 80% complete. The petrochemicals complex at Al-Zour is due for completion in 2023, with start-up expected in 2024.

–Angola’s state-owned oil company, Sonangol, is working with Iraq’s ministry of oil to build a complex refinery in Mosul, an area which has recently been liberated from Islamic State militants, a company official said.

“We have expressed interest in building a complex refinery to process heavy crude,” Sonangol’s head of Iraq operations, Richard Wadsworth, said. The discussions between Sonangol and the ministry are for a refinery with a capacity of 100,000-150,000 b/d of complex products, Wadsworth said.

–The Duqm refinery project in Oman was expected to start up in 2022, a senior official from the Port Duqm Company SAOC said. The refinery was expected to process medium and light crudes from Kuwait and Oman, according to Erwin Mortelmans, commercial director of Port Duqm Company SAOC. It will focus on producing refined products such as diesel, jet fuel, naphtha and refrigerated LPG, he said. Construction of the plant, located in the special economic zone in Duqm, began in June 2018.

–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. Though the contract would be between Pacific Future Energy and the oil ministry, it would be supervised by state-owned South Refineries Company.

–Iraq opened a downstream tender, hoping to attract engineering and construction companies to build a new refinery in Basra province.

–Iraq signed a contract with two Chinese companies for the country’s first new refinery to be built with foreign investors. The contract, with PowerChina and Norinco, covers construction and operation of a new 300,000 b/d export-oriented refinery, along with an integrated petrochemicals complex near Iraq’s existing oil export facilities on the southern Al-Fao peninsula, which leads to the Persian Gulf. The oil ministry is still 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. For the latter, it signed a contract with Rania International in February 2018. 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 and another in Qayarah, a territory previously occupied by the IS. It did not say if it will be a completely new construction or a building out of the existing Qayarah refinery, which has a 20,000 b/d nameplate capacity but has been operating at 4,000 b/d.

–Construction of the 140,000 b/d Karbala refinery, Iraq’s first new downstream facility in decades, has been stalled due to lack of finance. Work has yet to start on the 150,000 b/d Missan refinery.

–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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