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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Planned and unplanned works in Africa

Planned and unplanned turnarounds remained in focus in Africa, while in other news crude processed at Sogara, Gabon’s sole refinery, fell sharply.

Sogara processed 243,340 mt (9760 b/d) of crude in the first half of 2019, or nearly 48% down on the year, according to local media reports. As a result the country has had to import more than 201,507 mt of refined products, 37% higher year on year.

The refinery has reduced its throughput from 812,611 mt in 2017 to 779,951 mt in 2018. It can process more than 925,000 mt/year of crude.



–The condensate splitter at Algeria’s Skikda is due back from works, according to trading sources. The splitter has been in maintenance for a month.

–Libya’s Zawiya refinery is operating normally and running at around 85% of capacity, according to sources close to the National Oil Corporation. The refinery has been facing intermittent power issues this summer and according to industry and trading sources has been occasionally shut down. Libya’s Tobruk, Brega and Sarir refineries are also operating normally at close to 100% capacity and serving domestic demand.

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


–Engen’s refinery in Durban, South Africa, is carrying out maintenance on various units from September 2. There are 21 days planned for the reformer regeneration and 63 days for the alkylation unit.

–Nigeria’s four refineries are operating at just 2.14% of their combined nameplate capacity to refine around 445,000 b/d of crude, according to data released early September by Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., showing a dramatic further decline from the 27.7% a year ago and forcing the oil-rich nation to still rely heavily on fuel imports. The operating capacity is the lowest the four refineries have reached in five months, having operated at 13.8% in February, the NNPC data showed. “The lower operational performance recorded is attributed to the ongoing revamping of the refineries which is expected to further enhance capacity utilization when completed,” NNPC said. The new group managing director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, said August 22 that the corporation was determined to fix the refineries, thereby ending Nigeria’s dependent on fuel imports. NNPC announced in March that it had secured the service of Italy’s Maire Tecnimont to handle the overhaul of the 210,000 b/d Port Harcourt refinery complex, with oil major Eni appointed as technical adviser.

–Ghana’s sole oil refinery, Tema, continues to run at about half its nameplate capacity with a return to full 45,000 b/d rates expected later this year, a refinery representative said. “We are putting product into storage now and our cracker is in a good place, but we’re not where we want to be,” said TOR managing director Isaac Osei, speaking at the Ghana International Petroleum Conference in the capital Accra. TOR is operating at 25,000 b/d currently, which is “not enough to support the southern part of the country,” Osei said. He did not give a specific timeline for the resumption of full rates. The refinery was hobbled following an explosion in January 2017 at a furnace attached to the crude distillation unit. It has been running at reduced rates since.

–Cameroon’s Limbe refinery remains offline after the refinery suffered serious damage when an explosion occurred at some of its units at the end of May, industry sources said. Sources said the plant was in “very bad shape” and repairs are likely to take a long time, possibly even years. On May 31, four of the plant’s production units caught fire, interrupting production at the refinery. As a result, the refiner declared force majeure on operations and suspended all of its contractual commitments. Cameroon’s sole refinery is one of the few in the region to have undergone a successful upgrade program over the past two years. The refinery increased its capacity to 72,000 b/d from 45,000 b/d through the upgrade program, which involved the construction of a vacuum distillation unit, a catalytic reformer and a power plant.

–Tunisia’s STIR is expected to remain offline at least until around October, and has been halted since Q4 2018, trading sources said.

–Sudan’s Khartoum refinery second crude distillation unit with 40,000 b/d capacity would go on maintenance for at least a month in October this year. Last year, CDU 1 was down for maintenance as repair work at the KRC site is being carried out in several stages to limit the reduction in fuel supplied to the local market at any one time. Prior to this the refinery last underwent maintenance in March 2016. The first 50,000 b/d CDU processes the country’s main crude export grade, Nile Blend, while the 40,000 b/d CDU uses a heavy and acidic domestic crude called Heavy Fula. This plant is the country’s only functioning refinery after the Port Sudan refinery closed in 2013 and was decommissioned.



–Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said it plans full rehabilitation of all four of its refineries in January for completion in 2022. Nigeria’s refineries, which include the northern Kaduna refinery, Warri refinery and the two plants located in Port Harcourt, have operated below capacity due to years of neglect, forcing Africa’s largest crude producer to rely on imports to meets its domestic fuel needs. The operating rate is currently 2.14%. All four refineries have an operating capacity of 445,000 b/d but that has rarely been achieved in recent years. The first phase of the upgrades was announced in March, with Italy’s Maire Tecnimont hired to handle initial scoping of the 210,000 b/d Port Harcourt refinery complex, with oil major Eni appointed as technical adviser. Full repair work on all 4 plants will start in January. Tecnimont will handle the remainder of the repair work needed for Port Harcourt, while Kyari did not name the contractors that will handle the overhaul of Kaduna and Warri refineries. Tecnimont project manager. La Mattina Carmelo, said work on the first phase of the repairs at the Port Harcourt refining complex is 91% complete, with the remainder of that work to be done in the next three weeks, according to the NNPC statement.

–Following recent upgrades, run rates at Zambia’s Indeni refinery have risen sharply in the past few months, a spokesman said in mid-July. “A key development was that we upgraded our reformer reactors during the last maintenance session,” the spokesman said. Nearly $3 million went into this project. Because of these upgrades, the refinery is unlikely to require extensive maintenance for at least two years, although minor outages to facilitate routine servicing of equipment may be required, the spokesman said. The refinery last underwent maintenance in October 2018. The refinery is expected to be sold in the coming months. The Zambian government began the process of selling the refinery in late 2017. In March, privately owned Sahara Group said it is hoping to buy a 70% stake in the state-owned refinery, its executive director said. Tope Shonubi, speaking on the sidelines of the African Refiners Association conference in Cape Town, in March 2019, said when the deal was finalized he planned to build a hydrocracker at the plant.

–Italy’s Kinetics Technology has been awarded a contract to build a fluid catalytic cracker at Angola’s sole oil refinery in Luanda, Sonangol Chairman Sebastiao Pai Gaspar Martins said. Martins told the Angola Oil and Gas conference Kinetics Technology was chosen through a tender process and the unit would take around two and half years to complete. Sonangol is working with Eni for the refurbishment of the Luanda plant. The construction of the fluid catalytic cracker at the Luanda refinery will enable it to produce 1,200 mt/day of gasoline, up from current output of 380 mt/day. The unit is expected to come online mid-2021.

–The expansion program at Egypt’s state-owned Middle East Oil Refinery (Midor) near Alexandria, is on track for 2022, and the refinery is running close to producing full rates of 100,000 b/d, an official from the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation said. “MIDOR is running at full rates most of the time,” said Walid Gebril, the quality control general manager at EGPC, adding that the upgrade, which will push capacity to 160,000 b/d in three years, was progressing well. Once the revamp is complete, the refinery will produce Euro 5 specification refined products. Gebril also said EGPC was in the midst of expanding other refineries, including the upgrade of Assiut by the Nile in Middle Egypt, which was expected to be complete by April 2020. The upgrade at Assiut 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.

–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 much-needed upgrade of the refinery. A senior official from SIR had previously said that once its debt financing deal was finalized it would focus on meeting the lower sulfur standards set by the African Refiners Association by 2025.

–The Republic of Congo’s refinery in Pointe Noire is planning to build a fluid catalytic cracker before 2022.

–Senegal’s Dakar refinery is running at full capacity of 1.2 million mt/year. The refinery planned to increase capacity to 1.5 million mt/year.



–The Angolan government will launch a tender to build a new 100,000 b/d refinery in Soyo in the southern province of Zaire on October 24, a local media report cited the country’s Ministry of Mineral Resources and Oil, adding that roadshows are underway. The tender will select a company or joint venture to finance the construction of the plant under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) system. Angola expects three new refineries to be built — in Benguela, Soyo and Cabinda — to meed domestic demand. Angola needs 360,000 b/d processed daily which corresponds to 80% of current refined products imports, the report said. “Today we have a capacity of less than 80,000 barrels. There is the domestic market and there is the foreign market in neighboring countries. This should be enough incentive for us to have to build these refineries,” Jose Alexandre Barroso, Secretary of State for Petroleum was quoted as saying. Angola is Africa’s second-largest oil producer but it depends on imports for more than 80% of its oil product demand. The new plant, along with the mulled plants in Lobito in Benguela province and another one in Cabinda, is part of the government’s plan to transform its downstream sector, which also involves refurbishing the refinery in Luanda.


–The main crude distillation tower for Nigeria’s 650,000 b/d Dangote refinery has sailed from China, Sinopec, which built the unit, said in a tweet at the end of July. The tower will be the main column in the plant’s crude distillation unit, which will make it the largest refinery in Africa. “On July 29, the world’s largest atmospheric tower built by Sinopec slowly left a wharf in Ningbo,” Sinopec said in a tweet. “Following the Maritime #SilkRoad, it will travel to #Nigeria and be installed at the world’s biggest single-train facility — Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery.” The project received other key refining units such as the reactor, regenerator and fluid catalytic cracker earlier this year. The refinery when operational will significantly reduce Nigeria’s fuel imports and could also cap the country’s crude exports. It will dedicate 53% of its total refining capacity to the production of gasoline, the president of Dangote Group Aliko Dangote said. Representatives at Dangote Industries have said it is expected to start up in 2020/21, though the target has been repeatedly pushed back. The plant was previously slated to come on stream by the first quarter of 2019. Construction began in 2013.

–A consortium of Russian investors are planning a $4 billion project for a new refinery in Northern Zambia in the next five years at the site of the country’s aging state-owned Indeni plant, according to a local media report. The unnamed investors seek to invest $2.5 billion in the new facility near Ndola with construction of the plant starting within the next six months, the Zambia Daily Mail reported citing a spokeswoman for the Ndola municipality. A further $1.5 billion would be spent on boosting the capacity of the existing Tazama pipeline that imports crude to the Indeni refinery from Dar-Es-Salaam in neighboring Tanzania, the report said. “We have a team of Russian investors who will be setting up a hi-tech oil refinery plant as well as an oil pipeline alongside the (Indeni) refinery in Ndola,” the report cited the spokeswoman as saying.

–Uganda is pushing back the completion of its Albertine Graben refinery by a year to 2024, following delays in reaching an agreement on the activities necessary for a final investment decision, Uganda Refinery Holding Company general manager Michael Mugerwa said. “We are negotiating on the remaining activities on the refinery project to reach FID next year and complete the refinery by 2024,” Mugerwa said, adding that the refinery was on course and pre-FID activities were being finalized to move the project onto the construction phase. Under the project framework agreement, Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium was to develop and propose a final refinery configuration that would provide the best technical and economic results for government approval as the project moves toward a FID. The final refinery configuration has yet to be approved by the government.

–Angola’s state-owned Sonangol and the United Shine consortium have signed an agreement for the construction of a “high conversion” refinery in Cabinda province, Sonangol chairman Sebastiao Pai Gaspar Martins said. Speaking at the Angola Oil and Gas conference, Martins said the project, which includes a 60,000 b/d refinery, is part of the company’s aim to reduce its fuel imports.

–Sonaref’s Joaquim de Sousa Fernandes, chairman of the executive council, said that the Lobito refinery in Angola is aimed for completion in 2025. Sonaref is talking with a group of companies to set up a joint venture. The construction of the Lobito refinery has been frozen due to high costs, according to a report by Angola news agency ANGOP. Sonangol has been under pressure to build a new refinery as it heavily depends on imports for its fuel requirements, but it canceled the Lobito project in 2016. It has indicated plans for building Lobito have been revived, for a 200,000 b/d plant.

–Egyptian Refining Co. will start up its long-delayed new refinery at Mostorod, near Cairo, in 2019, according to TradeArabia News Service, quoting Qalaa Holdings’ chairman Ahmed Heikal. It was previously expected to start in 2018. Trial runs took place in the summer of 2018 as the refinery was hooked up to electricity and gas supplies, according to earlier reports. First planned in 2007, the $3.7 billion project was meant to come on stream at the end of 2016 but faced lengthy delays to its construction due to Egypt’s political instability since the revolution in 2011.

–Safinat, the main investor and implementer of the Bentiu refinery project in South Sudan, said it “has strong intentions” to recommission the modular refinery in 2019, a company source said. The refinery, with 7,000 b/d initial capacity, which is constructed in the Unity oil field, will produce diesel and heavy fuel oil, though subsequently there are plans to increase capacity to 25,000 b/d and include production of all range of light products depending “on the successful operation of the modular refinery.” Its construction started in August 2013 and in 2014 pre-commissioning and production started, although it was subsequently damaged during military action. Restoration works on the site started in December 2018 but they are depending upon assistance by the government for minimizing risks. South Sudan officials commented earlier that they expected the refinery to be operational in 2019.

–A contract to build Algeria’s new Hassi Messaoud refinery has not yet been awarded, according to a source close to the company. Algeria has scaled back plans to expand its downstream sector rapidly, dropping plans to build five new 5 million mt/year refineries, and pushing ahead with only two new projects, at Hassi Messaoud and Tiaret.

–Russian state-owned exploration company Rosgeologia is considering building the Red Sea Coast refinery in Port Sudan, which would supply landlocked countries in Africa, according to media reports. 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.

–Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said in August 2018 it plans to establish two condensate refineries with a combined capacity of 200,000 b/d.

–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.

–Kenya is hoping to decide soon on the location for a new refinery in either Lamu or Mombasa.

–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 had set its sights on building a 150,000 b/d refinery in Takoradi.

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