Orpic announced three additional units to be included in the proposed Sohar Refinery Expansion Project. The new expansion supported by the Government of Oman is expected to improve the Sohar refinery's product quality and increase output by more than 70 per cent.
Orpic’s CEO, Musab Al-Mahruqi said, the latest additions to the Sohar Refinery Expansion Project came to enhance the production of petroleum products for local market and increase the gross margin for the refinery. Also, the addition came in view of the latest improvised operating experiences gained at Orpic. Al-Mahruqi added, Sohar Refinery has recently been operating at high utilization rates reaching 110% of design capacity. The improvement in utilization rate has been incremental over the past few years and 2011 marked the highest average utilization rate for the refinery. 2011 has also marked the second year for the commercial operation of the Aromatics plant in Sohar. The average utilization rate for the Aromatics plant in 2011 exceeds 90% whereas the feedstock is partially supplied by Sohar Refinery. The Sohar Refinery Expansion project is also expected to meet the growing demand of gasoline and diesel in Oman. The expansion project with an estimated cost of USD 1.5 billion will be implemented at Sohar Industrial Port to complement the existing Sohar Refinery, which was commissioned in 2006.
GM of Sohar Refinery expansion project, R.P.Singh also explained the recent development, a Delayed Coker unit (DCU) will be added in order to minimize the excess low value bitumen production and increase the production of high value products like LPG, naphtha and diesel. The Bitumen demand to the local market will be met with the addition of a Bitumen Blowing unit “BBU”. An additional MTBE Unit will be added to enhance the Gasoline production. Singh elaborated, The additional units will be added to the current configuration for the Sohar Refinery Expansion Project which includes the following process units: Crude Distillation (CDU), Vacuum Distillation (VDU), Hydrocracker (HCU), Sulphur Recovery Units (SRU), Isomerization (ISOM), PSA unit for Hydrogen, Sour water strippers, Amine Regeneration Unit along with other treating units together with Utilities and Offsites.
Orpic started earlier this year the Front End Engineering Design “FEED” for the Sohar Refinery Expansion Project. CB&I Lummus B.V has been appointed to provide Front End Engineering Design (FEED) for the expansion project. Several specialist contracts were awarded earlier this year to internationally-renowned process licensors, such as Chevron Lummus Global for the Hydrocracking unit and Black & Veatch for the Sulfur Recovery unit. It is expected that the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract will be floated in 2012, culminating in the commissioning and on-stream operations of the refinery units in 2016.
Reputed International EPC contractors were invited for pre-qualification in May 2011. The short listed bidders will be invited to participate in the EPC contract bid in 2012. This large scale industrial investment by the Government in Sohar would support further the economic development in Sohar and provide employment opportunities for the local community while adding to the valuable Refinery and Petrochemical assets in the Sohar Port Area.
Orpic has recruited one hundred engineering and diploma holders to be trained to take over the Operation and Maintenance of the units after construction is completed. Al-Mahruqi also mentioned, an Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) is being developed and would form the basis for obtaining the Provisional Environment Permit from the Ministry of Environment & Climate Affairs (MECA). Orpic is also committed to implement the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) for Sohar Refinery and agreed with MECA in addition to adopting the latest proven best available technologies in the Expansion project to control the emissions to the environment.
Orpic refineries at Sohar and Muscat, as well as the aromatics and polypropylene production plants in the Sohar complex, provide fuels, chemicals and feedstock to Oman and to the world. The plants take raw materials, the main one being Omani crude oil, and process them to create a series of important fuels and petrochemicals. Omani crude is processed in Mina Al Fahal into fuel products. In addition, the long residue from this refinery is transferred via the pipeline to Sohar Refinery where, mixed with more Omani crude, it is refined to create fuels, naphtha and propylene.
The naphtha is taken by the Aromatics Plant to create benzene and paraxylene, industrial chemicals used in the production of plastics. The propylene is taken by the Polypropylene Plant. Polypropylene is a widely-used thermoplastic polymer, which forms the basis of many different products - everything from packaging to carpets to banknotes. Together, the four plants have a production capacity of 222,000 barrels per day of naphtha, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), gas oil, gasoline, fuel oil and jet oil; 818,000 metric tonnes per annum of paraxylene and 198,000 metric tonnes of benzene; and 350,000 metric tonnes of polypropylene.