Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic), one of Oman’s largest companies and one of the Middle East’s most rapidly growing businesses, plans to invest around $5-6 billion in a number of “strategic” projects over the next five years. Key among these is the Liwa Plastics Projects, which will produce one million tonnes of petrochemicals. This milestone venture will be launched in 2018. Also under development is a fuel pipeline project linking the refineries of Mina Al Fahal and Sohar with storage tank infrastructure planned at Al Jifnain in the Wilayat of Fanja. Equally important is the Sohar Refinery Improvement Project, a contract for which is currently pending before the Tender Board. Meanwhile, flaring at Orpic has been reduced by 60 per cent since 2011, with the volume flared per hour dropping from 12.5 m3 to 4.5 m3 in August this year. Flaring volumes are projected to drop further in the coming few months.
This was announced by Musab al Mahrouqi, CEO, Orpic, at the ceremony marking the successful completion of two key components of its Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP). Flare reduction was made possible by connecting the Fuel Gas network with the Aromatics Plant to reuse the excess gas which has resulted in less consumption of natural gas in the Aromatics Plant, the upgrade of boilers/burners to uplift their capacity to the maximum as well as enhancing the efficiency of coolers.
Orpic also marked the re-commissioning of the Wet Gas Scrubber Unit which had a fire incident last March resulting in the suspension of the maintenance and improvement works being carried out at that time on the unit as well as the project to reduce the gas combustion in order to lower the flare level. Orpic has so far completed two projects under this Environmental Improvement Plan, while also reaching the 80 per cent mark in the execution of the environmental mitigation initiatives.
“It is a significant moment for us and has been a result of combined efforts of working closely with other government institutions and in full partnership with the community,” said Al Mahrouqi. Orpic’s WGS was in the middle of an upgrade as part of a planned shutdown which triggered the company to initiate a project to rehabilitate the unit and upgrade its efficiency. The unit removes sulfur dioxide from the gas created by the refining process, and is a time and effort consuming process. The unit which began operations on July this year has significantly reduced the amount of emissions of sulfur dioxide. The reading shows that current emissions are in line with the standard set by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs and the Sohar Environmental Unit (SEU). The ceremony, held at Orpic’s Sohar complex, was presided over by Shaikh Khadim bin Abdullah al Ajmi, Majlis Ash’shura member from Sohar. Also present on the occasion were a number of dignitaries representing the Majlis Ash’shura, municipal councils, civil society institutions and local industry.
Orpic’s EIP was established in order to ensure that changes in the quality and nature of the crude oil that it receives and refines would not affect the company’s ability to keep to its commitment to continual environmental improvement. In addition to the WGS and Flaring projects two further projects involving Waste Water Treatment and Industrial Waste Disposal through recycling. The flare reduction projects can be summarised in connecting the Fuel Gas network with the Aromatics Plant to reuse the excess gas, which has resulted in less consumption of natural gas in Aromatics Plant, the upgrade of boilers/burners to uplift their capacity to the maximum, as well as enhancing the efficiency of coolers. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) and its local office in Sohar, Sohar Environment Unit (SEU) are the regulatory bodies, which check on industrial emissions. Orpic maintains a strong cooperative relationship with these two government departments, and has always kept within the various environmental measurement limits set by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs.
The company has allocated $50 million for the Environment Improvement Plan and is keen to carry out projects that can minimise the impact of its operations on the surrounding environment. Orpic believes in working closely with all relevant stakeholders to implement the Environmental Improvement Plan. The success of this project cannot be achieved without engaging the community. In this regard, Orpic engaged its own employees in the process. one example being a scheme to reward staff for ideas that can be effectively implemented on eliminating odour sources. With the objective to enhance interaction with the local community, the company introduced a dedicated toll-free number to receive any complaint from the local community. Complaints received are immediately attended and followed by a team of technicians who work round the clock. E-noses, which monitor air quality, are positioned in surrounding areas of Orpic operations to observe any potential environmental impact on the surrounding environment.