x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Abu Dhabi’s Ruwais oil refinery to be commissioned by end of year

The expansion is planned to more than double the capacity of Ruwais refinery from 415,000 barrels a day. It will process Abu Dhabi's Murban crude oil grade.

Tests on the long-awaited expansion of Abu Dhabi’s Ruwais fuel refinery have started and the project will be fully commissioned during the fourth quarter.

“Construction of the facility has been completed, the commissioning has started,” Jasem Ali Al Sayegh, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Oil Refining (Takreer), said on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Downstream conference in the capital.

“We’re hoping to complete the commissioning in the fourth quarter of this year.”

Takreer signed contracts worth US$9.6 billion in March 2010 with SK Engineering, Samsung and Daewoo to increase the Ruwais facility’s daily output by about 415,000 barrels per day. The newly expanded plant will process Abu Dhabi’s Murban crude oil grade.

The expansion of the plant, located some 240 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi city, was originally slated for completion by the end of 2013.

“You have to appreciate that this is a mega-project and it is a long process,” said Mr Al Sayegh.

“It will be fully operational towards the end of the year. This is what we’re expecting, of course, if everything goes according to the plan.”

The expansion of the Ruwais refinery is key to Abu Dhabi’s plan to diversify its economy away from upstream extraction by investing in its downstream capacities, said Mr Al Sayegh.

The plans received a boost in December with the signing of an agreement between Abu Dhabi’s Chemaweyaat and Thailand’s Indorama Ventures for the construction of a chemicals plant in the Western Region.

The joint venture plant will produce 1.4 million tonnes a year of paraxylene, which can be used to make fibres or plastic bottles, and 500,000 tonnes of benzene. However, no other details about the project are available.

The UAE’s downstream capacity trails that of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s includes high-profile joint venture refining projects including Satorp and Yasraf, together with Sadara Chemicals.

However, Mr Al Sayegh insisted that there was room for both markets to work alongside one another.

“We don’t see ourselves in competition with what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, we believe rather that what we’re doing will be a complement to what they offer.”

The investment in downstream facilities must be matched by investment in human capital as a means of tackling unemployment in the region, according to Moosa Al Moosa, the general manager and UAE finance director for Dow Chemical.

“More than 50 per cent of our population [in the Middle East] is under the age of 25,” Mr Al Moosa said. “We need to see more focus on trying to create more jobs, and this is where the petrochemicals industry and the refining industry can play a role.”

jeverington@thenational.ae

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