The first fuel exports from a major new joint-venture refinery in Saudi Arabia will be delayed to early next year from late this year, sources close to the matter said.
The 400,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Co (Yasref) refinery, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and China's Sinopec in Yanbu, started trial runs in September and had originally planned its first exports by November, later pushed back to December.
But the refinery will now only offer oil products early next year, according to the sources, who declined to be named because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
The refinery was now in the final stages of commissioning, with crude units running and producing intermediate feed, although there was a small delay to a secondary unit, one of the sources said.
It was not clear what caused the delay but it was now under control and oil products might be exported in January, the source added.
Yasref is the second refinery to start up in Saudi Arabia in the past two years and will complete state company Saudi Aramco's transformation into a leading exporter of diesel.
The first oil product shipment will likely be off-specification high sulphur gasoil, sources have said.
Sinopec will target Europe and East Africa for diesel shipments from the refinery, with the first clean diesel cargo due in the first quarter of next year.
The start-up of the refinery is expected to weigh on diesel prices next year as the rise in supply will far outweigh demand, which has been sluggish because of slowing economies in Asia, traders said.
Yasref is expected to produce 263,000 bpd of diesel, 90,000 bpd of gasoline, 6,200 tonnes per day of petroleum coke, 1,200 tonnes per day of pelletized sulphur and 140,000 tonnes per annum of benzene, according to the company website.