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Lower refinery runs across Africa in January

Refinery runs in Africa are expected to decline in January, partly on limited demand recovery and partly on extended outages in South Africa, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

The Engen refinery in Durban — the second largest in the country — was shut following a fire and explosion on Dec. 4, while the Cape Town refinery has been closed since July.

Engen has previously said it was “considering several options” for the refinery, although no decision has been made. The company said it remained “fully committed to operating the Engen refinery in a safe and reliable manner.”

Near-term maintenance
Existing entries
** South Africa’s Astron Energy Cape Town refinery remains closed, the company said Dec. 17. Work has commenced on a plan for a safe restart “but it remains too early to determine when that will be,” it added. Until the refinery restarts, Astron Energy “will continue to ensure security of supply in the Western Cape through imports.” The refinery has been halted following an incident in July, involving an explosion and fire.

** Sudan’s Khartoum refinery would start shortly a maintenance which will last 70 days, according to local media reports in late December, citing the energy ministry. During the maintenance, the country will import motor fuel in order to avoid shortages. The refinery has postponed its planned maintenance to December, S&P Global Platts reported previously citing consulting company CITAC Africa. It was previously set to carry out works from around mid-September.

** South Africa’s Engen refinery in Durban has shut its facility completely amid ongoing investigations following the fire and explosion that broke out at the refinery on Dec. 4.

** Zambia’s Indeni refinery is unlikely to carry out maintenance till at least 2022 after repair work was carried out earlier in 2020.

** State oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said Dec. 1 it has officially opened bids submitted by local and international companies for the engineering, procurement and construction contract to rehabilitate its Port Harcourt Refinery. Port Harcourt refineries were shut in March 2019 for the first phase of repair works, with Italy’s Maire Tecnimont handling the scoping of the refinery complex, with Eni as technical adviser. NNPC head Mele Kyari said Nov. 17 that seven companies were bidding for the work and that South Korea’s KBR had partnered with NNPC subsidiary engineering outfit Netco to handle the pre-qualification exercise. Kyari said challenges in funding the repairs had been resolved paving the way for the work to commence in the first quarter of 2021. Nigeria’s refineries, which include the northern Kaduna refinery and the Warri refinery have been shut down for repairs since early 2019 and NNPC says it expects them to operate at around 90% of capacity when repairs are completed and they resume production by 2023.

** Ghana’s sole oil refinery Tema expects daily crude oil processing throughput at a maximum of 28,000 b/d. The CDU currently only has one furnace. The residual fluid catalytic cracker has been down for a few months.

** The refinery in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, will go into turnaround in 2021, but dates have not been finalized.

** Cameroon’s Limbe refinery, which suffered from a fire at the end of May 2019, remains offline. Local media reported the restart is not expected until 2021. During a Russia-Africa summit officials said that Russian companies could get involved in the reconstruction of the plant.

** Libya’s Ras Lanuf remains offline without any timeline for its restart. The refinery was shut in 2013.

Existing entries
** Kenya is considering converting its shuttered Mombasa refinery to a biofuel plant using technology provided by Italy’s Eni, the Italian energy major said Dec. 18. Eni said it discussed the proposal as part of a potential raft of clean energy initiatives at a meeting between its CEO Claudio Descalzi and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. “The parties have identified strategic lines to implement a multiyear plan to incentivize separate collection of waste and agricultural residues, which are the ideal raw material for biofuel plants, able to produce bio-diesel, bio-jet and bio-ethanol,” Eni said in a statement. The Mombasa refinery, Eastern Africa’s sole refinery, was shut down in 2013 after former joint owner, India’s Essar, ditched plans to upgrade the plant on the grounds it was economically unviable. Essar sold its 50% stake in the plant back to the government later that year.

** Zambia’s Indeni needs rehabilitation, and the government has been looking to sell it to private investors. Five companies had been short-listed but the process was stalled as a result of COVID-19.

** TechnipFMC said it has “successfully completed the remaining conditions to enable work to commence” on the EPC contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of a new hydrocracker at Egypt’s Assiut refinery. The contract includes process units such as vacuum distillation, diesel hydrocracker, delayed coker, distillate hydrotreater and a hydrogen production facility. The project also includes other process units as well as interconnecting. It will transform lower value products into approximately 2.8 million mt/year of cleaner products, such as Euro 5 diesel.

Egypt is in the process of upgrading its refineries. The upgrade at Assiut includes the installation of 880,000 mt/year continuous catalytic reforming and isomerization complex, a 400,000 mt/year vapor recovery unit and 2.3 million mt/year hydrocracker, Platts has reported previously.

** The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has recently reviewed a provision of up to $250 million sovereign loan to the Alexandria Petroleum Company to finance resources and energy efficiency investments and other modernization investments. The project, which is estimated at $647 million, aims to improve the refinery’s efficiency while enhancing its productivity from increasing its output of Euro 5 diesel. It includes the installation of a new vapor recovery unit, continuous emissions monitoring system and a burner management system. Currently there is environmental and social due diligence ongoing. The expansion program at Egypt’s state-owned Middle East Oil Refinery near Alexandria, is on track for 2022, which will push capacity to 160,000 b/d.

** The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved a $50 million loan for an upgrade of Egypt’s Suez refinery aimed at introducing cleaner fuel and reducing CO2 emissions. It was the second loan by EBRD, which aims to “increase the flexibility of the plant’s crude intake and allow for the production of higher quality fuels and lower sulfur fuels.”

** Italy’s Kinetics Technology has been awarded a contract to build a fluid catalytic cracker at Angola’s sole oil refinery in Luanda. The unit would take around two-and-a-half years to complete. Sonangol is working with Eni for the refurbishment of the Luanda plant. The construction of the fluid catalytic cracker at the Luanda refinery will enable it to produce 1,200 mt/day of gasoline, up from current output of 380 mt/day. The unit is expected to come online mid-2021.

** Cote d’Ivoire’s SIR has secured a Eur577 million ($657 million) debt financing deal from Africa Finance Corporation, or AFC, which will help fund the upgrade of the refinery.

** Senegal’s Dakar refinery is planning to increase capacity to 1.5 million mt/year.

Existing entries
** All Axens’ units at the Egyptian refining Company (ERC) are “now successfully operating and reaching full production and performances,” Axens said in a statement Dec. 21. The refinery started operations in late 2019, aimed at processing atmospheric residue feed from the adjacent Cairo Oil Refinery Co.,S&P Global Platts has previously reported. Axens said it was involved in providing licenses, process design packages, catalysts for the naphtha hydrotreating unit, the CCR reformer, the diesel hydrotreater and the hydrocracking unit. “Today, all the units are performing well with the full satisfaction of ERC after a successful commissioning and start-up,” Axens said. ERC is converting “lowest value fuel oil into middle and light distillates that are meeting domestic consumption needs”, and can produce 2.3 million mt of Euro-5 diesel and 600,000 mt of jet fuel annually, according to the statement.

** The Republic of Congo government signed a deal with China’s Beijing Fortune Dingsheng Investment Co. Ltd. (BFDI) to construct a 2.5 million mt/year refinery in the port city of Pointe Noire, the country’s ministry of finance said. “This refinery will be able to come into operation by 2023,” Sen Shao, a senior official from BFDI, said in a statement, adding that the refinery would meet increasing demand for oil products both in the Republic of Congo and other countries in the region. The plant will focus on the output of key refined products such as gasoline, gasoil, LPG, low sulfur fuel oil and jet fuel. The African oil producer currently has only one refinery, the 27,000 b/d CORAF plant, which is also located in Pointe Noire.

** Nigeria was to commission the country’s first modular oil refinery, built in Imo state in the restive Niger Delta region, facility operator Waltersmith Petroman Oil said. The commissioning involves the first phase of the refinery with a capacity to refine 5,000 b/d of crude. It would eventually raise capacity to 45,000 b/d. The initial focus of the plant will be on gasoline and diesel. Waltersmith had previously said the plant would eventually try to increase capacity to 50,000 b/d in various phases.

** The Cameroon government is looking to build a new refinery in the southern port city of Kribi after operations at its sole refinery in Limbe were crippled due to a major fire in 2019. In the country’s National Development Strategy, the government outlined plans to create “a viable project for a new and large regional refinery in Kribi” with a capacity of 4 million mt/year. The plant will be built in partnership with private sector, the government said. Kribi has been chosen as the site as it is already home to the country’s main crude export terminal.

** Gemcorp and Sonangol have made the final investment decision (FID) for the construction of a full conversion Cabinda refinery in Angola on the Malembo plain, Gemcorp said Oct. 30. Gemcorp signed a contract with state-owned Sonangol in January to build the 60,000 b/d capacity refinery. The formal site construction commenced in March, Gemcorp said, adding that full site clearance and preparation has been completed in August 2020. Phase 1 is expected to include a 30,000 b/d CDU with a desalter, kerosene treatment and ancillary infrastructures including a conventional buoy mooring system, pipelines and storage facility for over 1.2 million barrels. It is due to be commissioned in Q1-Q2 2022. Phase 2 and 3 will upgrade the plant to a full conversion refinery with additional 30,000 b/d capacity, a new catalytic reformer, hydrotreater and catalytic cracking unit.

** The 650,000 b/d Dangote refinery in Lagos, Nigeria — set to be Africa’s largest — is “more than 70% complete,” an official from Dangote Industries said Oct. 7. Speaking at the virtual African Refiners’ Association event, Babajide A. Soyode, who works as a technical consultant for the refinery, said work was progressing “very well” though he conceded the coronavirus pandemic had led to some delays. Soyode, however, refused to give a specific start-up date for the refinery. Nigeria-based industry sources told S&P Global Platts that the refinery was unlikely to come in stream until 2022 due to delays caused by the pandemic. The start-up date of this refinery has been repeatedly delayed, after the company first announced the project in 2013.

** South Sudanese company Trinity Energy, a distributor of oil products, plans to build a new refinery in the north east of South Sudan near the oil field Paloch, according to media reports. The construction of the 40,000 b/d refinery in close proximity to the oil field would avoid the cost for transporting crude oil. It would also supply the local market and potentially export to Ethiopia and Sudan.

** Uganda expects its new Albertine Graben refinery to be launched in 2024 but in the meantime is exploring options on how to fund its 40% stake in the facility. The Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium, led by Italy’s Saipem, owns the remaining 60% in the refinery. Meanwhile, front-end engineering design work on the project is 70% complete, while the signing of a final investment decision for the new plant is now expected in 2022. An environmental and social impact awareness assessment for the refinery has started, after the government extended the deadline for its completion by an additional 17 months, according to media reports. Following the completion of the assessment, the consortium is expected to sign a final investment decision. The FID was initially planned for 2019, while the completion of the refinery was expected in 2023, S&P Global Platts has previously reported.

** Equatorial Guinea’s 5,000 b/d modular oil refinery project is expected to receive a final investment decision in the first quarter of next year, the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons said Sept. 22. The ministry confirmed that a feasibility study undertaken by Houston-based VFuels Oil & Gas Engineering had “concluded satisfactorily”. Earlier, Minister for Mines and Hydrocarbons Gabriel Obiang Lima said he was hoping to build two modular refineries in the country, one at the Punta Europa complex on Bioko Island, and the other at Cogo on the mainland.

** State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. is close to taking final investment decision with some investors to build a 50,000 b/d condensate refinery. NNPC signed the front-end engineering design for the construction of the plant — which will be located in the Niger Delta — with engineering firm KBR. NNPC is partnered in the project by indigenous oil producer Seplat Petroleum. NNPC first announced in August 2018 plans to build a condensate refinery with capacity to refine 200,000 b/d of the condensate oil produced by the country.

** Algerian state-owned Sonatrach expects to commission the Hassi Messaoud refinery in the second half of 2024, a slight delay to the previous timeline, the country’s energy minister Abdelmadjid Attar told S&P Global Platts. Construction launched at the beginning of 2020, and when complete, the refinery will increase Algeria’s crude oil processing capacity to 31 million mt/year, Attar said. Sonatrach has contracted with Spanish and South Korean consortium Technicas Reunidas-Samsung Engineering to build the new Hassi Messaoud refinery. The consortium had been expected to deliver the refinery in the first half of 2024. Attar, a former Sonatrach CEO who was named energy minister in June, said the state company has also finalized front-end engineering and design studies for two projects at the Skikda refinery: a fuel cracker for diesel production and a naphtha processing unit for gasoline production. However, Attar said investment decisions on refinery projects in Biskra and Tiaret would not be made before 2025, as Algeria reviews its long-term energy strategy. Attar’s predecessor, Mohamed Arkab, had announced in June that the Tiaret refinery would be launched in 2022. Hassi Messaoud, Biskra and Tiaret had been part of the government’s 2021-24 oil sector plan, with each refinery intended to have a 5 million mt/year capacity.

** Commissioning of the Bentiu refinery, South Sudan, which was slated to start operation late last year, has been delayed as engineers were evacuated from the site due to fears of an escalation of the pandemic, Daniel Chuang, undersecretary in the ministry of petroleum, said July 20. Safinat, the main investor and implementer of the Bentiu refinery project in South Sudan, said earlier this year that the refinery has not started yet. Construction at the refinery in the Unity oil field started in August 2013 and precommissioning and production began in 2014, although it was subsequently damaged during military action. Restoration works on the site started in December 2018 but it was dependent on assistance from the government to minimize risks. South Sudan officials had previously said they expected the refinery to be operational in 2019.

** Benin is looking to launch the construction of a new refinery, according to a local media report. The project has been presented at the government meeting. A committee will look at the feasibility studies for the project and will also analyze the market prospects until 2030. The project will be developed as a public-private partnership.

** Angola’s oil ministry has postponed the announcement of the winner of the Soyo refinery tender due to the coronavirus outbreak. The winner of the tender for building the refinery will be announced after the coronavirus outbreak is controlled, according to local media reports. The company to build the new Soyo refinery was due to be announced in March. Out of 31 interested companies, 15 have submitted bids in a tender for the construction of Soyo, the country’s ANGOP news agency reported previously. Nine of the bids have been validated. The refinery is expected to be completed in about three to four years. The selected company or joint venture will finance the construction of the plant on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The new plant, along with ones under consideration in Lobito in Benguela province and in Cabinda, is part of the government’s plan to transform its downstream sector. This also involves refurbishing the refinery in Luanda.

** Africa Finance Corporation has signed an agreement with Brahms Oil Refineries Ltd to co-develop a refinery and storage terminal in Guinea. The deal means AFC will work on the development and subsequent financing of a petroleum storage and associated refinery project in Kamsar, Guinea. This will include a 12,000 b/d modular refinery, a 76,000 cu m crude oil storage terminal, a 114,200 cu m storage terminal for refined products, and ancillary transportation infrastructure. Guinea currently has no refineries and is entirely dependent on imports from neighboring Ivory Coast and Senegal for its fuel needs.

** Russian state development bank VEB has signed investment cooperation deals with African organizations including on financing a refinery in Morocco. The deals were signed during a Russia-Africa Summit. VEB said the memorandum on the oil refinery in Morocco was signed with the Russian Export Group and Morocco’s MYA Energy, part of the Marita Group. The refinery has a planned capacity of up to 5 million mt/year. Morocco’s sole refiner Samir was forced to halt processing at the Mohammedia plant in 2015 after crude oil deliveries were delayed due to financial problems. Since then attempts to resume operations or find an investor have been unsuccessful.

** Sonaref’s Joaquim de Sousa Fernandes, chairman of the executive council, said that the Lobito refinery in Angola is aimed for completion in 2025. The construction of the Lobito refinery has been frozen due to high costs. Sonangol has been under pressure to build a new refinery as it heavily depends on imports for its fuel requirements, but it canceled the Lobito project in 2016. It has indicated plans for building Lobito have been revived, for a 200,000 b/d plant.

** A consortium of Russian investors is planning a $4 billion project for a new refinery in Northern Zambia at the site of the country’s aging state-owned Indeni plant.

** Russian state-owned exploration company Rosgeologia is considering building the Red Sea Coast refinery in Port Sudan, which would supply landlocked countries in Africa. Sudan had begun discussions to develop a 200,000 b/d refinery on its Red Sea coast. The project’s timeline has not yet been disclosed. The only refinery currently operating in the country is the Khartoum, after the Port Sudan refinery closed in 2013 and was decommissioned.

** Nigeria has reached an agreement with neighbor Niger to build an oil refinery in a border town between Niger and Katsina state in northern Nigeria.

** Kenya is hoping to decide soon on the location for a new refinery in either Lamu or Mombasa.

** Ghana’s ministry of energy is in the process of submitting a proposal to build a new refinery in Tema. It will replace the 45,000 b/d Tema Oil Refinery. Separately, the government had set its sights on building a 150,000 b/d refinery in Takoradi.

Source: S&P Global Platts