Orpic, the nation’s refining and petrochemicals flagship, has announced the successful completion of a trio of major components at the heart of its multi-billion dollar upgrade of its refinery at Sohar. With the completion of the Crude Distillation, Vacuum Distillation and Kero-Merox units, the Sohar Refinery Improvement Project (SRIP) is just months away from being brought on stream — a milestone that will see the plant’s refining output boosted by around 70 per cent.
“This is a significant milestone which indicates the completion of construction, pre-commissioning activities and the start of the units’ commissioning,” said Orpic. “The cumulative construction progress (has reached) 98.87 per cent and overall SRIP progress has reached 99.2 per cent,” the wholly government-owned company said in a post on its Facebook page over the weekend.
The impending launch of the upgraded refinery — envisaged before the end of the first quarter of this year — is set to bring to a successful conclusion a three-year-long expansion and modernisation programme involving a total investment of around $2.1 billion.
When fully operational, the revamped refinery will not only be equipped to meet the nation’s galloping demand for motor fuels and refined petroleum products, but crucially, it will also be suitably configured to process heavier Omani crudes. Indeed, with this latter capability, Orpic will, if it chooses, be able to import for the first time crudes that offer not only higher profit margins, but also result in a mix of fuels and byproducts suited to the nation’s requirements as well as its wider operations, say experts.
When fully operational with an enhanced refining capacity of 187,000 barrels per stream day (up from an existing capacity of 116,000 bpsd), the upgraded facility will contribute to hefty increases in the output of key fuels and petroleum byproducts.
Gasoline output is projected to grow from 5,309 metric tonnes per day (mtpd) to 7,130 mtpd. Jet fuel (A1) is expected to double to 2,239 mtpd, up from 1,133 mtpd currently. Gas oil production is also projected to more than double to 9,859 mtpd, from 4,089 mtpd. Sizeable output increases are also envisaged in polypropylene (from 798 mptd to 1,246 mtpd), and LPG (from 779 mtpd to 1,504 mtpd).
The upgrade will help fully meet the feedstock requirements of the adjoining polypropylene plant, and a substantial proportion of the raw material needs of the aromatics plant. Equally, a dedicated bitumen unit integrated with the expanded refinery will allow for the domestic production of bitumen for the first time in the Sultanate.