MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--Brazil’s Petrobras has awarded consortium Sociedade de Proposito Especifico (SPE) a Brazilian reais (R) 1.95bn ($591m) contract to complete the construction of a natural gas processing unit at the Complexo Petroquimico do Rio de Janeiro (Comperj), the state-controlled energy giant said on Thursday.
SPE, led by China’s Shandong Kerui Petroleum and Brazil’s Metodo Potencial, will begin work in the first half of this year, with operations at the unit expected to begin in the second half of 2020, Petrobras said in a statement.
The unit, known as UPGN, is part of the Rota 3 natural gas project designed to transport and process gas feedstock from Petrobras’s Bacia de Santos pre-salt cluster to Comperj’s uncompleted refinery train.
The unit is the largest of its kind in the country, Petrobras said, with a capacity to process 21m cubic metres (mcm)/day.
“The project will significantly expand the company’s pre-salt gas offloading and processing infrastructure, which will jump from 23mcm/day to 44mcm/day per day, and will help reduce the need for natural gas imports,” the company said.
According to previous Petrobras statements, UPGN is 36% complete.
A contract with the unit’s previous builders, Queiroz Galvao, was rescinded in 2016 after the company had halted construction amid what it called “unsustainable impacts” related to Brazil’s economic crisis.
The construction of Comperj itself, located in Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro state, came to a standstill in 2014 amid the fallout from the so-called Lava Jato (Car Wash) probe into a massive bribes-for-contracts scandal at Petrobras.
The project’s only 165,000 bbl/day refinery is 86% complete. According to Petrobras, any further work on the refinery remains on hold until at least December 2020.
CEO Pedro Parente said in February that talks with Chinese investors to inject capital into Comperj were ongoing.
Comperj is located in Rio de Janeiro, and its strategic objective is to expand Petrobras’ refining capacity to meet the growth in demand for oil products in Brazil, such as diesel fuel, petrochemical naphtha, jet fuel, coke and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). (Photo from Petrobras)