Saudi Arabia Review

Satorp .. leading the refinery expansion

Satorp .. leading the refinery expansion

Satorp harbinger of more plant expansion in region

Another 400,000 bpd facility in the western Saudi city of Yanbu is scheduled to begin by the Q3. The 400,000 bpd Jizan refinery is scheduled for start-up in 2016. The UAE aims to start up a 417,000 bpd expansion at its Ruwais refinery by the end of 2014

SAUDI Aramco’s 400,000 barrel per day refinery in Jubail is in the final stages of start-up and is expected to be fully operational by mid-2014, a senior official involved in the project says.

The Satorp refinery, owned 62.5 per cent by Aramco and 37.5 per cent by France’s Total, is commissioning the final units, Jean Papee, managing director of Total Saudi Arabia, says.

The deep conversion facility will be on line and able to produce the full slate of products by “mid-2014,” Papee says.

The big Satorp plant is the first of several new Middle East refineries that will shift crude and oil product flows in the region. Another 400,000 bpd facility in the western Saudi city of Yanbu is scheduled to begin by the third quarter. The 400,000 bpd Jizan refinery is scheduled for start-up in 2016.

The UAE aims to start up a 417,000 bpd expansion at its Ruwais refinery by the end of 2014 or early 2015, UAE Oil Minister Suhail Mazrouei said. He said a 200,000 bpd refinery in the emirate of Fujairah is also still planned before 2020. Satorp has been producing products for almost six months while the $10 billion facility is going through a complex process of commissioning and ramping up all units. Total lifted a clean diesel cargo from the plant in January.

The refinery will produce more than 50 per cent middle distillates – diesel and jet fuel – more than 20 per cent of gasoline and about 10 per cent petcoke.

The exact volumes will depend on which products will fetch the highest value on international markets, says Total.

Total is poised to export most of its 37.5 per cent share of all products, while Aramco may export some of its share, but will look to serve the local Saudi market first.

Papee says that the coker is now running and that the facility has switched to using Arabian Heavy feedstock. As a temporary measure, Jubail ran Arabian Light last summer during the early commissioning phase of the crude distillation units – ahead of the coker coming on stream – to reduce fuel oil production.

He declined to say how much Arabian Heavy the facility is currently using. Aramco officials say they plan to bring on more Arabian Heavy capacity from the Manifa field in the coming months.

The petrochemical units have also come on stream, and “throughput is being increased,” said the Total official. At full production, the facility will produce 700,000 tonnes per year of paraxylene, 200,000 tonnes per year of propylene and 130,000 tonnes per year of benzene. All the propylene is due for local consumption, but the other chemicals will be exported.

A surge in domestic energy demand in Mideast countries and a desire to keep more value from oil production inside the country have spurred the regional refinery boom. Saudi and UAE officials say that the Mideast Gulf may end up exporting fewer barrels of crude but will see a boost in refined products sales.




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