KPC starts up second train at Kuwaiti refinery, mulls petchems

Al Greenwood


HOUSTON (ICIS)–Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) has started up the second train of three trains at its Al-Zour refinery in Kuwait, and the company could add downstream petrochemical capacity to the complex, the CEO said on Tuesday.

The third and final train should start up in the next couple of months, said Nawaf Al-Sabah, CEO of KPC. He made his comments during the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference. The first train started operations a couple of months ago.

In all, the refinery will have a throughput capacity of 650,000 bbl/day, making it the largest refinery in the Middle East.

The refinery’s production slate and market has changed tremendously since it was first conceived.

Initially, it was planned to produce low-sulphur fuel oil to feed Kuwait’s power plants, Al-Sabah said. The energy division decided to switch to gas-fired power generation, which allowed the refinery to concentrate on producing distillates.

That production slate of diesel and jet fuel found an eager market in Europe as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

So far, KPC has had no problems obtaining tankers to ship products to Europe, Al-Sabah said. The company has its own tanker fleet, and that fleet makes up one link of an integrated system that starts with oil production in Kuwait to fuel sold at KPC service stations in Europe.

KPC is now considering whether it should build additional downstream units at the refinery. Options include deep conversion or petrochemicals, which would use the refinery’s naphtha as a feedstock, Al-Sabah said.

“Petrochemicals are still the primary focus for us right now,” Al-Sabah said.

KPC is approaching a final investment decision (FID) on the project, he said. The company is evaluating the market for such a petrochemical project given the changes in demand that were caused by the COVID pandemic.

The Al-Duqm refinery in Oman should run at full volumes before the end of the year, Al-Sabah said.

The refinery is a 50-50 joint-venture project between KPC and the Oman Oil Co (OOC).

It is in the Al-Wusta governorate in south Oman.

The refinery has a capacity of 230,000 bbl/day.

It could provide the feedstock for a petrochemical complex that would also be built in Dqum.

KPC has signed a deal to develop such a complex with SABIC and OQ.

The facilities would include a steam cracker and derivative units, as well as a natural gas liquid (NGL) extraction facility.

Vietnam’s Nghi Son Refinery is running above nameplate capacity, Al-Sabah said.

The 10m tonne/year refinery is in Thanh Hoa province in northern Vietnam.

The Nghi Son project is a joint-venture project between PetroVietnam (25.1%), Kuwait Petroleum (35.1%), Idemitsu Kosan Co (35.1%) and Mitsui Chemical (4.7%).

CERAWeek runs through Friday.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Lopez and Nurluqman Suratman

Thumbnail shows a diesel tank, one of the fuels made at a refinery. Image by Shutterstock.


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