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Yanbu Refinery to Reach Full Capacity This Week

Source: The Wall Street Journal 5/12/2013, Location: Middle East

State-giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco, has restarted its Red Sea Yanbu refinery, which it owns with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), after nearly two months of maintenance to bring a new clean-fuel project online and the plant will reach its full capacity this week, two people familiar with the matter said.

The refinery, which is operated by Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Co., or SAMREF, has a capacity of about 400,000 barrels a day of Saudi Arabian crude oil, half of which is consumed domestically, but will only reach that level in a few days, the people told Dow Jones Newswires.

During maintenance, which started in March, SAMREF boosted the reliability of the fluid catalytic cracker, which helps turn crude oil into gasoline, and upgraded the refinery to produce cleaner fuels. The clean-fuels project is expected to reduce sulfur levels by more than 98% in gasoline in 2013 and in diesel by 2016.

SAMREF is the supplier of gasoline in the western region of the kingdom, according to the Saudi Aramco website.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is expanding its refining capacity to produce more gasoline and diesel to meet rising domestic demand.

Saudi Aramco owns and operates four refineries serving the local market, with a combined refining capacity of one million barrels per day. The firm also has a 50% interest in SAMREF and in Saudi Aramco Total Refinery and Petrochemicals Co., a joint venture with France's Total SA, which will also produce cleaner fuels.

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