Saipem to convert Saudi crude line to gas

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 -- Saudi Aramco has let contract to Saipem SPA to convert a crude oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia's East-West system, called Petroline, to carry natural gas.

Saudi officials say the 5 million-b/d Petroline has been operating at half capacity. The system carries crude from near Abqaiq to Red Sea export facilities near the industrial city of Yanbu, where a major expansion of petrochemical manufacturing capacity is under way (OGJ, Aug. 1, 2005, Newsletter). Most Saudi crude is exported through Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf.

Under a lump-sum, turnkey contract, Saipem will decrude, clean, and purge the 56-in., 960-km pipeline and conduct detailed design, fabrication, construction, installation, and commissioning of new sections of the line and related communication facilities. Completion is due early in 2008.

The 56-in. line is a loop of the original 48-in. East-West crude line laid in 1981. Installed in 1987, the loop expanded the Saudi Red Sea export option for crude oil while Persian Gulf shipments were under threat from the Iran-Iraq war.

The 290,000-b/d Abqaiq-Yanbu NGL pipeline runs parallel to the Petroline.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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