Refinery closures remained in the spotlight in the Asia-Pacific region with news emerging on New Zealand’s Marsden Point’s transition to a terminal and the temporary closures of the only refinery in Sri Lanka.
** New Zealand’s Refining NZ said its Marsden Point refinery will transition to an import-only fuel terminal from April 2022. The company’s board has taken the final investment decision confirming the change of operations to a terminal called Channel Infrastructure, following “the signing of long-term terminal services agreements with all three of our customers,” the company said. In August, it reached in-principle agreement with ExxonMobil, the last of its three refinery customers, about the conversion of Marsden Point into an import terminal. In February, NZ Refining reached an in-principle agreement with BP and in May with Z Energy. Fuel from Marsden Point will be distributed on behalf of Channel Infrastructure’s customers primarily to the Auckland and Northland markets, which make up around 40% of New Zealand’s fuel demand, through a 170 km RAP pipeline and the truck loading facility adjacent to the Marsden Point site.
** BP Australia is undertaking a feasibility study into the production of green hydrogen at the site of the Kwinana refinery. It will work on the project in partnership with Macquarie Capital and with funding from the Western Australian government. The company plans to repurpose the site as a clean energy hub, “which will include the production of renewable fuels,” it said. BP also said it was “already underway with plans to develop a renewable fuels plant at the site, producing sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel.” BP announced its plan to shut the refinery in October 2020 and wind down refining activities over the following six months. Refining activities were completed by March 2021.
** Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. said it had inaugurated “its world-class import terminal” in Tabangao, Philippines, after transforming the closed Tabangao refinery into a terminal. The refinery has been shut since May 2020, having been idled due to weak domestic product demand, and was permanently shut in August 2020.
** ExxonMobil Australia plans to shut its Altona refinery in Melbourne and convert it into a fuel import terminal. The refinery will remain in operation while transition work is undertaken.
** Australia’s Viva Energy welcomed the federal government’s announcement of a fuel security package and, as part of this, will make a six-year commitment to maintain refining operations at Geelong through to June 2027 with a further three-year option to extend until June 2030. The company decided to avoid the closure of Geelong after taking up a payment lifeline extended by the government, which lasted from January-July. Refineries that took part in the grant had to agree to maintain operations at least during the tenure of the program. The fuel security service payment started July 1 and will run until June 2027 by providing support at lower margins.
** Ampol, formally Caltex Australia, will continue refining operations at its Lytton refinery “subject to the government’s refining support package being successfully legislated as proposed”. However, Ampol also said it could convert the refinery to an import terminal “should the package not be successfully legislated or, in future, in the case of persistently low refinery margins or other adverse events.”
** Sri Lanka’s Sapugaskanda refinery was temporarily halted mid-November as the country faces low foreign currency reserves, which it will use for the import of essential goods rather than crude oil, according to media reports citing the energy minister Udaya Gammanpila. The plant will remain closed for at least 50 days. Meanwhile data showed improving demand and runs in the region.
** Vietnam’s gasoil imports rose 104.66% on the month to a three-month high of 405,849 mt in October, latest preliminary data from Vietnam’s customs showed, on the back of rising economic activity following a rollback of pandemic-induced restrictions. Gasoline imports into Vietnam fell 28% month on month to a two-month low of 16,766 mt in October, according to Vietnam Customs. Driving activity, a proxy for gasoline demand, averaged 17% below baseline levels in October in Vietnam, Apple mobility data showed. That was up from 51% below baseline levels in September.
** The average run for all categories of refineries in India rose to 99% in October, from 89% in September, as domestic fuel demand rebounded on easing coronavirus restrictions, an oil ministry survey found, reflecting improved economic activities in Asia’s third-biggest economy. October’s run rate was also higher compared with the 87% run rate in the previous year, reflecting improvement in overall economic activities since the first wave of coronavirus of 2020. India’s demand for oil products in October rose 5.2% year on year to 17.8 million mt, reflecting the rise in domestic demand for transportation fuels like diesel and gasoline after the second wave of coronavirus pandemic in Asia’s third-largest economy.
** In other news, Reliance Industries and Saudi Aramco have decided to reevaluate their agreement for the Middle Eastern producer to buy a stake in the refining and petrochemical business of India’s biggest private refiner, and both companies would look at broader areas of cooperation due to the changing energy scenario. Reliance said that following this mutual decision, it would drop its plan to create a separate oil-to-chemicals unit, named Reliance O2C.
New and ongoing maintenance
New and revised entries
** Malaysia’s Petronas has delayed the restart of operations at a unit at its Melaka refinery.
** Taiwanese state-owned CPC delayed the restart of the residual fluid catalytic cracker units at its Dalin refinery to late November instead of Nov. 19. The RFCC was shut down Sept. 16 for planned works. Term customers of the producer said the delay was due to maintenance issues at the plant.
** Pakistan’s National Refinery plans an annual turnaround from Dec. 24 for a period of 20 days.
** Indian Oil Corp. plans to shut its 80,000 b/d crude distillation unit and some secondary units at its Haldia refinery on the east coast of India in December for maintenance, company officials said. An earlier plan for the shutdown was rescheduled to avoid any shortage during the peak festival season of October and November. The refinery has two crude distillation units. The plan also includes the shutdown of a vacuum distillation unit for 40 days, a fluid catalytic cracker for 50 days, and a diesel hydrodesulfurizer for 25 days.
** India’s Kochi refinery has no plans to carry out any maintenance shutdown program in fiscal year 2021-22 (April-March). The next maintenance shutdown will be for 30 days to carry out an annual turnaround due every four years. The annual turnaround would be in the second half of 2022-23.
** India’s state-run Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd-owned Bina refinery in central India will have a planned shutdown in 2022. The shutdown will be for regular maintenance and comes after four years. “The duration and magnitude of the shutdown are still being worked out,” said a senior official at the refinery.
** Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical has begun maintenance on a crude distillation unit and a residue desulfurization unit at its Mailiao refinery. The refinery has a total of three CDUs, each with a capacity of 180,000 b/d, and two RDS units.
** Viva Energy, Australia’s second-largest refiner, has delayed planned maintenance at its hydrofluoric acid alkylation unit at Geelong to 2021 from late 2020.
New and revised entries
** SK Innovation and Energy has selected Honeywell UOP for a feasibility study to retrofit the hydrogen plant at the Ulsan refinery with carbon capture. SK will “explore capturing and sequestering 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide” from the existing hydrogen production assets. From 2026, the CO2 will be reinjected in depleted natural gas reservoirs, Honeywell said. “With the global demand for hydrogen expected to grow significantly within the next decade, hydrogen producers need a low-cost carbon capture system to help them meet their sustainability goals,” said Ben Owens, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions.
** Indian Oil Corp. has received environmental clearance for a capacity upgrade project at its Mathura refinery. The capacity expansion project includes residue upgrade and distillate yield improvement programs. The upgraded crude processing capacity will be 11 million mt/year.
** India’s Nayara Energy, owned by Russian oil group Rosneft, will complete the first phase of its petrochemicals expansion project including setting up a 450,000 mt/year polypropylene plant in 2023 at its 20 million mt/year refinery complex at Vadinar in Gujarat. Nayara, as part of its broader plan for petrochemicals vertical, will set up a new propylene recovery unit along with upgrading the existing fluid catalytic cracking and LPG treatment units, besides setting up the PP plant.
** Pakistan’s National Refinery is considering installing a continuous catalytic reformer to produce Euro 5 motor gasoline while reducing production of naphtha to zero. The project has been estimated to take at least four or five years to complete. It is continuing to study the possibility of a hydrocracker/bottom-of-the-barrel upgrade, aimed to upgrade fuel oil — commonly known in the country as furnace oil — to value-added products. For the highly capital-intensive project of converting fuel oil into diesel and naphtha a joint project among Pakistan’s five refineries is under initial consideration. A joint venture is being considered to carry out the project as it is not feasible for low-capacity refineries on a standalone basis.
** Indonesia’s Pertamina started upgrade work at its Balongan refinery as part of Indonesia’s Refinery Development Master Plan. The first phase has started with upgrade work at the facility’s crude distillation unit, aimed at increasing the flexibility of the refinery’s crude slate and raising the plant’s refining capacity. The project is expected to be completed in 2026. Pertamina will build the project in three phases. The first phase is to increase refining capacity from to 150,000 b/d by 2022 from 125,000 b/d currently. The second and third phase will increase the product yield from the refinery, including from the new petrochemical plant. The RDMP project is also being carried out at other refineries across Indonesia, such as Pertamina’s Cilacap, Balikpapan, Dumai and Plaju refineries.
** Pertamina has completed more than 42% of its physical upgrade plans at its 260,000 b/d Balikpapan refinery, with several refinery units having been delivered and milestones reached. Three boiler units and an alkylation reactor were delivered in the first quarter, while several steam generator units were delivered in Q2, one industry source said. Local media reported that the latest addition to the refinery project was a propylene splitter unit — a column which separates propylene from propane — which was installed on Oct. 25. In the first phase of the refinery upgrade works, scheduled to be completed in 2024, the facility would see its total refining capacity increase from 260,000 b/d to 360,000 b/d. The refinery would also be able to produce higher quality gasoline that meets Euro 5 standards. In the second phase of the refinery upgrade works, the refinery would have increased flexibility in its crude oil supply, enabling the refinery to process sour crude with sulfur content of as much as 2%, the company had said on its website previously. The second phase of upgrades at the Balikpapan refinery is scheduled for completion in 2026. Separately, Pertamina will go ahead and revamp its Cilacap refinery without Saudi Aramco, raising capacity from 348,000 b/d to 370,000 b/d. In May 2020, Pertamina and South Korean Consortium DH Global Holdings Co signed a memorandum of understanding for the upgrade of the Dumai refinery complex, with plans to increase the refinery’s operating capacity.
** Pakistan’s Attock Refinery is planning upgrades including a new continuous catalyst reformer unit (CCR) to produce Euro 5 compliant gasoline and diesel as well as 92 RON gasoline and an upgrade to the diesel desulfurization unit (DHDS). The refinery is also considering a bottom-of-barrel conversion unit to convert fuel oil to gasoline. The management estimated it could take about two years to finalize an EPC contractor for the projects and another 3-5 years for construction.
** Byco Petroleum Ltd., Pakistan’s biggest refiner, plans to convert the bulk of its fuel oil output capacity into producing gasoline and diesel meeting international Euro 5 standards, Chairman Mohammad Wasi Khan said in September. Byco Petroleum typically produces 30%-40% fuel oil from each barrel of crude oil they refine. The product is mainly used by utilities for power generation. But furnace oil demand weakened after utilities started using liquefied natural gas, which is a cleaner alternative, said Wasi Khan. “Byco started development work to modernize its refinery by launching the Upgrade-I project at the start of this year which would be completed by 2025,” the chairman said, with civil work on the site and the arrival of equipment and machinery underway and the company getting ready to install additional units. “Byco seeks to install altogether 14 plants, including fluid catalytic cracking and diesel hydro desulfurization units,” Wasi Khan said. By the time it finishes, the company will have a total of 19 plants at its oil refining complex. This equipment will help convert the bulk of the Byco’s furnace oil output into Euro 5 compliant gasoline and diesel and produce other high-quality fuels like jet fuel and kerosene. Meanwhile, Axens has been selected by Byco to support its upgrading projects Phases I, II and III. The scope of Axens’ work includes “the supply of process design package for integration of three existing units into FCC gasoline hydrotreating configuration” as well as catalysts and adsorbents for the sulfur recovery unit and distillate hydrotreaters 2 and 3, and distillate hydrotreater 3 reactor internals. The start-up date of the complete Phases I, II and III is expected in Q2, 2024. Currently Pakistan’s Byco refinery is rebranding under the name of Cnergyico Pk Ltd.
** Pakistan Refinery Limited is considering two options to upgrade its refinery: either to acquire a pre-owned refinery or build a new refinery. The company had been in talks with the government about refinery policy, which will support upgrade projects. The company believes the new refinery policy will make the sector financially sustainable and the upgrades more economical. The company must make commitments to the government by December for its upgrade plans and which option it will select. According to the company both options are possible, however acquiring a pre-owned refinery will be a cheaper option as it will cost 50% less than the cost of a new refinery.
** India’s HPCL has postponed its target of raising its existing capacity of 8.3 million mt at its Vizag refinery to 15 million mt by December 2022. In 2020, the refiner had set the target for capacity upgrade by 2023-24 (April-March). The latest revised completion deadline for the expansion project brought forward the target by two years. The initial deadline for the completion of the project along with a bottom-upgrade program was March 2020. The expansion project involves the installation of primary processing units such as a CDU — replacing one of the three existing CDUs — a hydrocracker, and a naphtha isomerization unit.
** Indian Oil Corp. is delaying a plan to expand capacity at its Panipat refinery in northern India from 300,000 b/d to 500,000 b/d until 2024. It had planned to carry out the expansion over 2020-21 but now expects to complete it by September 2024, amid the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
** Reliance Industries Ltd. has no investment commitment for any refinery capacity expansion plan at its Jamnagar integrated complex, company officials have said. Reliance has two refineries at the world’s biggest refinery complex in Gujarat on India’s west coast with a combined capacity of 68.2 million mt. Reliance has received environmental clearance for a capacity expansion proposal at its export-focused refinery from 35.2 million mt to 41 million mt. Reliance also applied for regulatory clearance for a capacity expansion proposal at its domestically focused refinery from a capacity of 33 million mt/year to 40.5 million mt. However, it aborted the proposal after marketing conditions changed.
** State-run Indian Oil Corp. has awarded an engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning (EPCC) contract to Paris-based Technip for its expansion project at the Barauni refinery in the eastern state of Bihar. The contract involves the installation of a 1 million mt/year “once-through” hydrocracker unit (OHCU), a fuel gas treatment unit (FGTU) and associated facilities. The expansion project will increase its capacity by 50% to 180,000 b/d and add petrochemicals such as polypropylene to the product portfolio. The initial plan for the completion of the capacity project was scheduled for 2021. But the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic may result in this being rescheduled.
** India’s Numaligarh Refinery Ltd., or NRL, will use global technology process supplier Honeywell’s UOP technology to produce clean-burning diesel fuel in compliance with India’s Euro 6 emissions standards and increase crude oil conversion. The refinery, located in the eastern state of Assam, is executing an expansion project to raise the processing capacity to 9 million mt by 2024.
Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. has also Axens to provide technical support and licensed technology for its planned expansion. Axens will provide technical support and license a naphtha hydrotreating unit, continuous catalytic reforming unit, isomerization, and fluid catalytic cracker. The company was aiming to complete the expansion project by 2025.
** Petron Malaysia has been considering a plan to more than double capacity at its 88,000 b/d Port Dickson refinery in Malaysia to 178,000 b/d.
** Hengyi Industries has selected a flexicoking technology for a second time as part of its expansion project in Pulau Muara Besar. The Brunei refinery already started up a 1.1 million mt/year flexicoking unit at the end of 2019. Hengyi Industries has selected the technology for its new Phase II expansion project. The flexicoking unit, due for start-up in June 2024, will upgrade 2.1 million mt/year of vacuum residue, FCC slurry oil and steam cracker pyoil into valuable distillates and flexigas.
** Hengyi Industries will use “advanced reforming and aromatics technologies” from Honeywell UOP for the integrated petrochemical complex in Puala Muara Besar, Brunei. The Brunei complex will include aromatics block consisting of CCR Platformer to convert naphtha into aromatics, as well as aromatics complex to recover high-purity paraxylene from mixed xylenes. The latter will produce up to 2.3 million mt/year of paraxylene. The complex will also include naphtha hydrotreater and Olefin Removal Process unit amid others. In addition, UOP is providing VGO Unicracking unit and Diesel Unicracking unit targeting maximum naphtha production. When the project is completed, Hengyi Industries will have the capacity to produce more 3.8 million mt/year of paraxylene. The first phase of the Pulau Muara Besar refinery envisages crude processing capacity of 8 million mt/year while in the second phase, the refinery will add 14 million mt/year of crude processing capacity, bringing overall capacity to 22 million mt/year.
** A $4-billion clean fuel project is being undertaken at Thailand’s Sriracha refinery. The upgrade is slated to be completed in 2023 and will increase the refinery’s capacity from 275,000 b/d to 400,000 b/d, boosting the yield of cleaner products.
** Pertamina will start producing biodiesel at its Cilacap Refinery Unit IV in December. It will begin to produce around 3,000 b/d of D-100 bbm, with an increased production of an additional 6,000 b/d of combined D-100 bbm and B30 biodiesel blend set to come on stream from December 2022. Units are also being built at Plaju refinery for an additional 20,000 b/d in biofuel production. Pertamina will use Honeywell UOP technologies to produce advanced biofuels at Plaju and Cilacap.
** Indonesia’s TPPI has laid out the next steps of its upgrading works at its Tuban refinery, setting 2024 as the target for the completion of its new Olefin Project. In addition, the Olefin project, TPPI will also continue its Aromatic Revamping project. The Olefin Project is slated for completion by 2024 while the Aromatic Revamping project will complete by 2022.
** Two separate consortiums have submitted bids for the engineering, procurement, and construction contract to build, upgrade and expand project of Dung Quat refinery in central Vietnam. The upgrade will raise the capacity of Dung Quat to 8.5 million mt/year from current 6.5 million mt/year.
** IOC-owned Bongaigaon refinery has plans to raise its annual capacity to 4.5 million mt.
** IOC’s Haldia refinery will launch a second catalytic dew axing unit (CIDWU) with 270,000 mt/year capacity in 2023. The unit will produce advanced Group III Lubes Oil Base Stock (LOBS). The unit is expected to be commissioned in January 2023.
** IOC-owned Gujarat refinery’s capacity expansion project is set to be over by Sept. 30, 2024, a delay of one-and-a-half years from the previous deadline. The delay is primarily a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The initial deadline was contemplated for 2020. The existing smaller capacity atmospheric unit and vacuum units will be replaced by a large atmospheric vacuum unit (AVU). The project also involves a revamp of the existing hydrogen generation unit, a new n-butanol processing unit and a revamp of the linear alkylbenzenes (LAB) unit. IOC plans to raise the capacity of the Gujarat refinery to 360,000 b/d by March 2023 from the current 275,000 b/d.
** IOC-owned Paradip refinery will install the first stage of a Grassroot Needle Coker Unit by using its own in-house technology. The proposed unit will have a Calcined Needle Coke, or CNC, production capacity of 56 kilotons/year. The company does not plan any expansion for its Paradip refinery, whose overall capacity is 15 million mt/year.
** French company Axens has been selected to provide technological support to Chennai Petroleum’s 9 million mt/year Cauvery Basin Refinery project at Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu. IOC approved a proposal for a grassroots refinery project of its subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corp. Ltd., or CPCL, at Cauvery basin, known as the Cauvery Basin Refinery, or CBR. CPCL initially set up a refinery at the Cauvery basin in south India with a capacity of 500,000 mt/year in 1993, and later expanded the capacity to 1 million mt/year in 2002. Now, CPCL is expanding the capacity of CBR and as part of that, Axens will provide technologies for a Naphtha Hydrotreating Unit, Reforming unit (Octanizing), C5-C6 isomerization unit, and VGO (Vacuum Gasoil) Hydrotreater incorporating ZPJE spiraled tube heat exchangers technology.
** Saudi Aramco and S-Oil signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a $6 billion steam cracker and olefin downstream project at Onsan due for completion in 2024.
** ExxonMobil announced a final investment decision at its Singapore complex. The project includes an expansion aimed at converting “fuel oil and other bottom-of-the-barrel crude products into higher-value lube base stocks and distillates.” Startup is set for 2023.
** Petron plans to expand and upgrade its Bataan refinery in Limay. There was no timeline for when the expansion will take place. The refinery’s capacity will be increased by 100,000 b/d of condensates and light crude oils, from current capacity of 180,000 b/d.
** Mongolia is aiming to complete the construction of its maiden refinery project in 2025, according to a statement on the Parliament’s website. Engineering work at the refinery in Dornogovi (Dornogobi) in the south-east of the country has been completed despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19. When the feasibility study was approved in Dec. 2018, completion was expected for 2024, the statement said. It will have 1.5 million mt/year annual capacity and produce 1.33 million mt of oil production. 66% of the output will be diesel, with the rest 95 RON, LPG and jet fuel. The plant will cover 80% of the domestic demand for diesel and gasoline. Construction started in 2018 and is financed by India.
** Petronas said it aims for a “safe and successful start-up” of the Malaysia’s Pengerang Refining and Petrochemical integrated complex, also known as PRefChem, “towards the end of the year”, Petronas said in its second quarter report Aug. 25. “The new capacities, mainly the petrochemical facilities within the Pengerang Integrated Complex, are not expected to make material contribution to our bottom line this year,” the company also said. Petronas has previously said it aimed for a second half full start-up. The refinery, also known as RAPID refinery, had delayed its restart several times, following a fire that broke out at the diesel unit in March 2020. The plant, part of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex at Johor in the south of the Malay peninsula, was launched in late 2019.
** Global trader Vitol’s refinery in southern Malaysia’s Johor state is in the final stage of construction. The refinery, whose construction started in 2019, is likely to be operational in Q4 2021.
** Flow Petroleum Ltd. (FPPL), a Pakistan-based oil marketing company, has signed an agreement with Al Ghurair Investments, a large investment group in UAE for the 100% ownership of a 120,000 b/day of refinery named Trans Asia Refinery. It will be set up on 200 acres of land leased from Port Qasim Authority, Karachi, Pakistan.
** India’s proposed new 1.2 million b/d Ratnagiri refinery on the west coast is still facing delay due to “local issues”. Construction at the site was expected to start in 2020 but there have been issues relating to land acquisition which had stalled the project. The location of the project has already moved once, from Ratnagiri district to Raigad district. The refinery is now expected to be commissioned in 2025, according to industry sources.
** Pak-Arab Oil Refinery Limited will start physical works on its coastal refinery in 2021, after almost 13 years of delays to the project. Following the start of the works, the refinery is expected to come online in 2025-2026.
** Indonesia’s Pertamina decided to postpone the construction of a proposed 300,000 b/d Bontang refinery in East Kalimantan.
** A Rosneft and Pertamina joint venture has signed a contract with Spanish Tecnicas Reunidas to design the construction of an oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Tuban, Indonesia. Primary processing design capacity is planned at up to 15 million mt/y, planned capacity at the petrochemical complex includes more than 1 million mt/year for ethylene and 1.3 million mt/year for aromatic hydrocarbons.
** Sri Lanka has approved a $20 billion refinery project at the port town of Hambantota. The announcement follows the inauguration of a smaller refinery complex at the port, which has backing from the Oman Oil Company.
** Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd.’s proposal to invest $4.05 billion in an integrated refinery and petrochemicals facility in Balasore, India, has been granted approval by the Odisha government.
** Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are in talks to develop a 200,000-300,000 b/d refinery in Balochistan’s Gwadar district for $10 billion.
** A new HPCL project in Barmer, India, is due for completion by March 2023.
** India’s refinery project in Maharashtra, being developed by state-owned IOC, HPCL and BPCL, will start up around 2022-23.