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Jorf Lasfar refinery plan in Morocco moves ahead

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 6 -- Abu-Dhabi's state-owned energy investment firm International Petroleum Investment Co. (IPIC) has approved a plan for construction of a refinery at Jorf Lasfar in Morocco, the latest of several projects announced for the port on the country's Atlantic seaboard.

UAE state news agency WAM said work is under way to set up a company to administer the project in cooperation with Moroccan partners, which were not named. WAM gave no further details concerning the size of the plant or investment.

In July 2007, Morocco's energy ministry announced plans for the construction of a 10-million-tonne, $3 billion refinery at Jorf Lasfar, which would become the country's second facility. The plans called for completion of the refinery during 2015-16.

"Negotiations are under way with Spanish, UAE, Kuwaiti companies and other firms, with the view of building the second refinery," the ministry said.

Energy and Mining Minister Mohammed Boutaleb said, "Part of the new refinery output would be destined for exports to Asian, North American, and European markets."

The existing 136,000 b/d Samir refinery, at Mohammedia north of Casablanca, is owned by Corral Holding, a Swedish company controlled by Sheikh Mohamed Al Amoudi of Ethiopia.

Reports say Samir is working on a modernization scheme valued at more than $530 million to introduce hydrocracking technology and the latest refining processes.

Last July, Morocco's L'Economiste newspaper also reported that Samir, Casablanca-based diversified holding company Akwa Group, and Morocco's state-owned Office National de l'Electricite will build a 5 billion cu m LNG regasification terminal either in Tangiers or Jorf Lasfar.

L'Economiste said the gas would be piped to industrial centers at El Jadida and Kenitra for the production of electricity in combined cycle power plants and for the refining industry. It also said the LNG terminal could be connected to the Maghreb-Europe pipeline GME, linking North Africa with the Iberian peninsula.

Last month, Morocco's Office Cherifien des Phosphates and Libya's Africa Investment Portfolio signed a memorandum of understanding to build three production units for phosphoric acid, ammonia, and fertilizers in both countries, including a $350 million phosphoric acid production plant at Jorf Lasfar.

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