Kuwait's Oil Minister Mohammad al-Busairy said in June that the country's Supreme Petroleum Council approved construction of the 615,000-b/d Al-Zour refinery (OGJ Online, July 1, 2011). He also said the council approved proposals to upgrade two of Kuwait's three existing refineries—the 466,000-b/d Mina Al-Ahmadi and the 270,000-b/d Mina Abdulla—as part of the $14.5-billion project.
Development of the Al-Zour refinery will come in two phases: During Phase 1, the plant will process 300,000 b/d of crude for domestic consumption; under Phase 2, it will process a further 315,000 b/d of oil.
The refinery's second phase will eventually replace the distillation input of the country's 200,000-b/d Shuaiba plant, which is Kuwait's oldest and smallest refinery and planned for closure.
In February of this year, Iran was set to inaugurate a major oil refinery–the largest in the Middle East. Shazand refinery in the central town of Arak about 150 miles south Tehran will boost gasoline production by more than 100,000 b/d once in full operation, according to area media.
Shazand initially was to reduce the country's dependence on imported fuel. Its overall production includes gasoline, propane, propylene, diesel fuel, and other products that comply with such international standards as Euro-5.
In August, Qatar's Laffan Refinery Co. Ltd. let a lump sum FEED contract of an undisclosed sum to Technip SA for the Laffan refinery's Phase 2 expansion, which would double the refinery's throughput capacity to 292,000 b/sd. The plant will be fully operational by first-quarter 2016.
The expansion will allow Qatar to meet domestic demand for naphtha, diesel, LPG, and jet fuel while becoming a net exporter of diesel and other refined products, instead of an importer, according to Qatargas, which operates the refinery. The FEED contract work is to be completed by first-quarter 2012; the EPC contract is to be awarded by third-quarter 2012 (OGJ Online, Aug. 19, 2011).
Of importance to the trade in refined products not only for the Middle East but for markets into which refiners in the region sell is the start-up in March in Qatar of the Pearl gas-to-liquids plant operated by Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Qatar Petroleum. In June, the plant in Qatar's Ras Laffan Industrial City sold its first commercial shipment of GTL gas oil (OGJ Online, June 14, 2011).
The sale marked the start of production of GTL products from the plant. In coming months, production was to ramp up from the Pearl GTL project's first train, and the second train was to start up before yearend. The plant is expected to reach full production capacity by mid-2012.
It is the largest energy project ever launched in the Qatar, officials said.
When fully operational, Pearl GTL will produce 1.6 bcfd from North field, which will be processed to deliver 120,000 b/d of condensate, LPG, and ethane, plus an expected 140,000 b/d of GTL products using Shell technology and project management.
Shell operates the Pearl GTL plant under a development and production-sharing agreement with Qatar. The project was launched in July 2006.
Major construction was completed in 2010. On Mar. 23, 2011, gas began flowing to the project from wells 60 km offshore. The gas processing plant began producing condensate, LPG, and sulfur.
In the US as 2011 began, Marathon Oil Corp. announced it would spin off its downstream business, forming an independent refiner to be named Marathon Petroleum Corp. based in Findlay, Ohio. The parent company, Marathon Oil, remains in Houston.
Refinery locations and capacities to be operated by the spun-off company are Garyville, La., 464,000 b/d; Catlettsburg, Ky., 212,000 b/d; Robinson, Ill., 206,000 b/d; Detroit, 106,000 b/d; Canton, Ohio, 78,000 b/d; and Texas City, Tex., 76,000 b/d.
Crude capacity of the Detroit refinery was being expanded by 15,000 b/d in a project that will increase heavy-oil processing capacity by about 80,000 b/d.
Marathon completed the spinoff on June 30, as planned. (OGJ, July 11, 2011, Newsletter).
Also in July, ConocoPhillips announced plans to separate its upstream and downstream businesses into two standalone, publicly traded corporations via a tax-free spinoff of the refining and marketing business to ConocoPhillips shareholders (OGJ Online, July 14, 2011).