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Middle Eastern nations plan new refinery complexes

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A number of Middle Eastern nations are proceeding with plans to boost refining capacity in order to meet burgeoning fuel demand. This week companies in Bahrain, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have all announced refinery investment, construction or expansion plans:


Plans to boost refining capacity of small oil producer Bahrain by almost 50% are projected to cost up to US$ 6 billion, according to the country’s top oil official. Plans to complete the second phase upgrade of the country’s 267 000 bpd Bapco Sitrah refinery would increase the number of high value oil derivatives and expand capacity to approximately 400 000 – 500 000 bpd. No timeframe have been outlined for the plans, although the work is likely to take place over the long term.


The government’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs has detailed the country's ambitious plans to expand refining capacity and become a net exporter of refined products. The plan will consist of expanding existing refineries and adding 750 000 bpd of capacity at new refineries in Karbala, Kirkuk, Missan and Dhi Qar provinces.

With regard to upgrades, the Basra refinery currently has a nameplate capacity of 140 000 bpd but a 70 000 bpd unit is being constructed, coming on line before the end of 2011. There is also work under way to install additional new units, including an isomerisation unit to raise the octane number of the gasoline, to improve the quality of oil products produced.

Iraq’s refining industry faces further problems with regards to infrastructure and the threat of terrorism. The Dora refinery in Baghdad has a 210 000 bpd nameplate capacity but operates at approximately 100 000 bpd due to a lack of crude supply, while the Beiji refinery was attacked in February.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco is accelerating plans to boost production capacity at its Manifa oil field development to provide heavy crude feed three planned refineries, as the government pledges investment of US$ 125 billion on oil and gas output/downstream projects in the next five years. The country is adding refining capacity to meet domestic demand and boosting petrochemical output to create jobs and diversify exports.

Saudi Arabia is embarking on two new petrochemical facilities to be located in the industrial city of Jubail as part of plans to invest US$ 100 billion in the sector over the next five years. Aramco is developing a 400 000 bpd combined refinery and petrochemical facility with Total SA, set for completion in 2013. The company is also working on plans for a plant with Dow Chemical Co, which could cost up to US$ 20 billion.

The national oil company will also raise output at the offshore Safaniya Field to help supply a number of planned refineries in addition to Jubail. One prospective joint venture (with Sinopec) complex at Yanbu will have a 400 000 bpd capacity and is due for completion in 2014, while a 400 000 bpd refinery at Jazan is due for completion in 2017. The plants will help meet demand for gasoline and other products in Saudi Arabia, and Aramco aims to integrate fuel processing with petrochemicals.

Another US$ 6 - 8 billion is earmarked for investment in an expansion of the Rabigh Refining and Petrochemicals Co. venture, known as Petro Rabigh. Sumitomo Chemical Co. is Aramco’s partner at Rabigh.

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